Everyone knows Bill Hader from his work on Saturday Night Live. It’s impossible not to, what with his Vincent Price, Al Pacino and James Carville impressions. To be honest, the sketch show hasn’t been the same since his departure back in 2013.
It’s not like the guy crawled under a rock and died, though. In fact, unlike many other SNL alums who left the show only to land bit parts in TV sitcoms and movies (sorry Cheri Oteri and Tim Meadows), Hader has been positively killing it both on- and off-screen. Not bad for a guy from Oklahoma who meandered over to Hollywood with aspirations of becoming a director, huh?
Case in point is Hader’s newest series Barry on HBO Canada (Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET). Hader doesn’t just star in the dark comedy, he also directs and produces the series, which he co-wrote with Alex Berg of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Silicon Valley fame.
It’s just the latest example of how Hader has locked Hollywood up. Need more proof? Just take a look.
He knows how to work it behind the scenes
Yup, so Hader directs, writes and produces on Barry, but that’s not the only show that he’s flexed his muscles behind the scenes on. The guy has also been a scribe on South Park, he penned a Spider-Man comic alongside Seth Meyers, and he’s responsible for numerous SNL sketches to boot.
He knows his drama
Most of us know Hader as a funnyman, but when he was a kid he spent hours upon hours studying the likes of Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick because he wanted to be a director. The result? Hader knows how to showcase some dramatic chops too. If you don’t believe me, just watch his dark turn in The Skeleton Twins alongside fellow former SNL player Kristen Wiig.
But he also knows his comedy…
As I mentioned, most of us know Hader as a funnyman — in fact, his name is practically synonymous with comedy. It’s kind of funny when you think about it though, given what brought him to Tinseltown in the first place. The guy never did standup, but kind of fell into improv when he and his girlfriend broke up and he needed a distraction so he took a class. I’d say that breakup was certainly for the best, wouldn’t you?
… All kinds of comedy
Okay so Hader hasn’t done stand-up, but he’s done basically everything else. Sketch, impersonations, creating original characters, dark dramas, sitcoms, cartoons… it’s no wonder that Megan Mullally went to bat for him with Lorne Michaels, basically making the SNL creator audition Hader after she saw what he could do at that aforementioned improv class. Since then the man has been unstoppable.
Documentaries have nothing on him
Parodies! Did I mention parodies?! Hader has a proven knack for those too, especially thanks to his goofy IFC comedy Documentary Now!, which he created alongside Fred Armisen and Meyers. That entire show is a parody of every documentary out there and it’s a perfect example of what Hader is capable of when a show is in his hands.
He can also play the romantic lead
When Amy Schumer, who was on fire a couple of years ago thanks to her show Inside Amy Schumer, needed a romantic lead for her first big-screen feature Trainwreck, who did she call? It wasn’t George Clooney or Matthew McConoughey. It was Bill Hader, and the pair went on to be one of the cutest on-screen couples in recent memory.
His voice work helped to put him on the map
Hader has obviously done voices for shows like The Simpsons and South Park, but it was his gig as leading character Flint Lockwood in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs that made people take notice. Since then he’s gone on to voice characters in other animated flicks like Inside Out and Finding Dory, proving his vocal talents are just as in-demand as his other talents.
He knows how to create enduring characters
Can we just talk about Stefon for a moment? Hader’s tattooed socialite who always gave Seth Meyers the down and dirty on Weekend Update was certainly memorable. So memorable, in fact, that when Hader returns to his former stomping grounds he’s expected to reprise the role, a role that he’s also taken to Meyer’s current show, Late Night. Obviously Hader recognizes what the people want.
He has friends in high places
Among those in Hader’s contact list? Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Megan Mullally, Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig and many, many more. A guy like that has certainly navigated Hollywood, non?
Those brows, though
Lots of people come to Hollywood with a certain look. Well, Hader most definitely does not have that look. What he does have is a memorable face with even more memorable eyebrows, eyebrows that have helped him stand out in a sea of other actors going for some of the same roles. These days, it’s that rubber face that we all know and love.
He’s still the nicest guy on the planet
There are a lot of big personalities in Hollywood, and plenty of inflated egos and heads to go along with them. But even though Hader’s successes give him more right than most to act like he’s made it big, he still acts like a regular old, likeable dude. One who’s always nice to fans, is willing to chat up the press and takes all kinds of parts — big and small.
Now that’s how you conquer Hollywood.
Barry airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.