Liz Sarnoff Interview: ‘Barry’ writer
Liz Sarnoff has been nominated at the Emmys for producing Best Drama Series nominees “Deadwood” and “Lost” and has also worked on such dramas as “The Leftovers,” “Marco Polo” and “NYPD Blue,” but it was for the comedy “Barry” that she finally received her first writing nomination this year. Sarnoff explains in an interview with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above), “They wanted to hire one drama writer in the room full of comedy writers because [they] always had the intention that the show was going to go a bit dark and also have a serialized crime story attached.”
Sarnoff is nominated for scripting the penultimate episode — an especially dramatic installment titled “Loud, Fast, and Keep Going” — from the first season of the HBO series about a hit-man who takes up acting. Sarnoff notes, “I had gone to acting school, so for me, the whole idea of doing an acting class [show] was a dream to me because I had all these stories and things that I wasn’t using for anything.” In addition to Best Comedy Writing, “Loud, Fast, and Keep Going” is also nominated for Best Picture Editing, Production Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing; it is also Bill Hader’s submission for Best Comedy Actor, as well as one of the show’s submissions for Best Comedy Series.
“Once we realized that we were going to have to kill Chris, the episode started to take a real shape and Barry’s arc crystalized and it was a pivotal moment to get into the finale,” Sarnoff says about the episode. Although she says that “you try to assign episodes in people’s wheelhouses,” Sarnoff denies that she got screenwriting duty on “Loud, Fast, and Keep Going” because she had scripted the deaths of six series regulars and nine major recurring characters on “Lost.”
Sarnoff has been in the writers’ room since April for the eight-episode second season of “Barry,” which is scheduled to shoot next month. “It’s going to be so much more fun,” Sarnoff teases. “We’re just going to get bigger and better.” Sarnoff is also shopping a “multi-generational Korean-family dramedy” pilot called “Highland” with Margaret Cho. “The original version of the show was that the family business was a marijuana dispensary and I’m not sure if we’re going to keep that because when we started developing the show years and years ago, marijuana wasn’t legal and now, everything has changed,” she laughs.