Charlie Barnett interview: ‘Russian Doll’
Like many viewers, Charlie Barnett wasn’t sure about what to expect from the second season of “Russian Doll.” With Season 1 wrapping up relatively neatly, with Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) and Barnett’s character Alan putting an end to the deathly time loops they were experiencing, it was anyone’s guess as to how the story would continue onward. Season 2 ultimately made the transition from time loops to time travel, with Nadia and Alan getting to inhabit the lives of their ancestors. “I was excited and terrified,” says Barnett in an exclusive video interview for Gold Derby. “It was thrilling to imagine that we were going into these other realms, but terrified on how we could carry in what we had — the beauty of what we had — in the first season into the second season.” Watch the full video chat above.
If Season 1 was about accepting death for Alan, Season 2 was about learning how to live. Throughout the season we see Alan going back to 1960s East Berlin to inhabit his grandmother, where he gets to witness firsthand how she experienced life in turbulent times. “He has the freedom to go in and out,” explains Barnett. “He can go back to that train, and I think he finds a certain kind of sneaky joy in that.” But as he also observes, Alan does start to “take advantage of the situation.” While he may have a fun time in another person’s skin, he would eventually realize the importance of finding confidence in his own.
One other fun change for Alan this season is his newly-grown mustache. While Barnett admits he has fought to have mustaches for his characters in the past but typically loses, this time it actually related on a deeper level to Alan. “I felt a little more power when I first grew a mustache, and I related that into what Alan is always searching for,” he offers. The actor created a backstory of Alan’s Egyptian father, who sported a (hypothetical) mustache of his own, and how Alan was looking to channel the power it gave him. “Ultimately,” he adds, “we realized that a lot of that is just smoke and mirrors and the power is within.”
With Alan having gone through yet another existential experience in Season 2, Barnett is hopeful that his character will finally start living his life to the fullest. While the actor admits he has “no clue where the story could go from here,” he’s intrigued by the possibility of a third season. “I feel like he has realized that the exploration has helped solidify everything that he was and he can return to his own being, rather than trying to find something,” he states. “I’m excited in this third season of him really getting to live it.”