This story contains spoilers for Barry season 3, episode 5.
This is why we can’t have nice things. Throughout Barry’s unrelentingly dark, grim third season, there’s been one beautiful spot of light—the surprisingly sweet romance between Cristobal (Michael Irby) and NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), a pair of star-crossed crime lords. They fix each other elaborate coffee drinks in their tastefully decorated bungalow; they’re saved as “Luke” and “Lorelai” in each others’ phones; they’re endlessly kind and thoughtful, each planning hits so that his partner can escape unscathed. Though their pairing came as a curve ball in the black comedy’s season premiere, in retrospect, it makes all kinds of sense.
Until, of course, it all comes crashing down in Sunday’s episode. Cristobal, you see, has an entire life in Bolivia he hasn’t told Hank about—specifically, three kids and a wife named Elena bent on getting revenge on the Chechens who murdered her father, Cristobal’s now ex-crime-boss. She pops Hank and his paramour’s love bubble in a big way, ordering a raid that gets Hank’s buddies kidnapped or killed and ripping Cristobal from his arms.
The eternal optimist is now at a crossroads, reeling from the betrayal while bent on rescuing the man he loves. “I think Hank is just realizing how high the stakes are now that this has all crumbled,” the actor says in a conversation about his unexpected season-three story line. “You can try to have this really soft and loving romantic relationship in this incredibly cruel and hard world [only] for so long before the reality of it sinks in. And then someone is in danger.”
Vanity Fair: I have to say, it’s kind of surprising to hear your real speaking voice. I was sort of expecting Hank.
Anthony Carrigan: I know. It really throws people. I don’t want to say they’re disappointed, but there is an element of “Where are you from?” I’m like, “Massachusetts.” They’re like, “Oh.”
Do you ever find yourself slipping into the accent when you don’t mean to?
No. Fortunately, Hank is not trying to take over my body. But I’ll certainly kind of fall into it at certain points just to keep it fresh. During the pandemic I would just slip into Hank, and it would always put me in a much better mood.
Of all the characters that could be haunting your psyche, Hank’s not so bad.
For sure. Hank’s good vibes only.
The Hank and Cristobal relationship has been so fun to watch this season. Did their friendship always feel romantically charged to you? Or were you surprised to see it move in that direction this year?
I wasn’t particularly surprised by it. I think if you go back and watch the previous episodes, you can see a few breadcrumbs that were ultimately leading towards, okay, there’s something going on between these two characters. And when I read the script, finally, I was overjoyed because I loved working with Michael Irby so much. We have such a good time on set. And I just feel this new side of Hank, this more intimate side of Hank, was something that was just… I really welcomed shades of this character.
How had you thought about Hank’s sexuality before now? Do you think that he is gay, or in love with Cristobal specifically, or just somewhere on the spectrum?
I hadn’t, really. You never really want to make your mind up about something, because you never know. Whoever’s writing the show could potentially change it up, and then all of a sudden your theory goes out the window. But I was really happy to see it go in that direction. This inkling of an idea was confirmed when I found that out.
Hank and Cristobal seemed to have this really pure and romantic love. It feels like they’re always just showering each other with roses.
They’re taking care of each other.
I feel like they have the only healthy relationship on the show.
It’s hilarious, because here you have these two heads of these crime organizations, and it’s them that happen to be the most balanced emotionally and have the healthiest relationship pretty much out of everyone. You can see from the get-go that they put a lot of time and effort into being very conscientious—doing a lot of therapy, taking care of their bodies, running very low carbon footprint-type crime organization. And I think that extends into just wanting to take care of each other and be healthy.
Except of course, Cristobal is keeping a big secret that Hank doesn’t find out about until this episode. Did you feel betrayed to find out that Cristobal has a wife, as the guy who brings Hank to life? How did you react to that twist?
I thought it was brilliant, because I just didn’t see it coming. Once you find something that is seemingly perfect, of course there’s this thing that pops up and jeopardizes it. It’s very brilliant storytelling, and it makes for a lot of tension.