“She’s got a huge appetite for the dangling prize, and she wants to be a star,” declares Sarah Goldberg about her role as self-centered actress Sally Reed on HBO’s “Barry.” The Emmy-winning dark comedy about a hitman (played by series co-creator Bill Hader) struggling to escape his criminal past returned earlier this year after a three-year hiatus due in large part to pandemic shutdowns. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Goldberg talks about returning to her Emmy-nominated role and about why she’s not bothered by negative reactions to her character.
“I’m really tired of seeing likeable women on TV,” she exclaims. “This is a show where you’ve got a bunch of men who kill people and we’re able to stomach that as a society, no problem. We don’t bat an eyelid. But to show an ambitions, slightly narcissistic woman on TV, people have a very strong reaction that and find her unpalatable.” Rather than try to make the character more likeable, Goldberg has a strong desire to lean in to the character’s more selfish tendencies. “This is a show about morally bankrupt people, and I didn’t want Sally to be exempt from that,” she says.
The early half of the season focuses on Sally filming a television show loosely based on her own life. The show’s premiere episode features a sequence of Sally on the set of her show. The sequence is shot in one long uninterrupted tracking shot, an experience that Goldberg found exhilarating particularly because it was the first thing that was shot after the show returned from the extended hiatus. “You’re not playing it for edit,” she says. “You’re playing it for real time, so I get really excited about that kind of thing.” The actress also argues that the scene is a perfect metaphor for Sally’s personality. “Her just having to constantly pivot when she’s not necessarily the most evolved person was really fun to get to play around with.”
Goldberg is given a stellar showcase with the season’s fourth episode with “all the sauces.” Sally is about to take the stage at the premiere of her TV series and is shocked when it receives near-unanimous acclaim on Rotten Tomatoes. Goldberg delivers a hilariously awkward monologue as Sally processes her success in real time. “This is her biggest dream,” explains Goldberg. “It’s coming true and she’s having the realization in front of a lot of people. So the idea that I felt was strong was she’s having a very private moment in public.” Goldberg studied Oscar acceptance speeches from the 1970s and worked some of those speeches into her performance. “I’m so interested when people win awards,” she says. “This thing happens where it’s a private moment happening in public, and the voice getting higher and the tears coming. Sally’s not even winning an award, by the way. But she’s performing like she is.”
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