‘Barry’ Star Sarah Goldberg Breaks Down Sally’s ‘Bleak’ Turn in Episode 5: ‘She’s Giving the Performance of Her Career’


The following contains spoilers for “Barry” Season 4 Episode 5.

Midway through its final season, “Barry” jumps forward in time eight years to find Barry (Bill Hader) and Sally (Sarah Goldberg) living on the run in the middle of nowhere with their son John. But while Barry is pretty pleased with their isolation, Sally finds herself in a “total hellscape of her own making,” Goldberg told TheWrap.

In this future, Sally is working as a waitress named Emily. But she’s also putting on a performance – each day she puts on a wig, fake nails and ties it all off with an overdone Southern accent. All of which is entirely unnecessary.

“I was really excited about that episode,” Goldberg said in an April interview. “I’ve been asking Bill since Season 1 Episode 1, ‘Can we please go like full Gena Rowlands ‘Woman Under the Influence’ opening night? Can we go all the way down to the darkness?’ So he did good on his promise.”

Goldberg relished the opportunity to find Sally in a completely different world.

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“I think that with the time jump the idea was we’re in a different world, they have a very different existence,” she said. “So when I got the script, I was sort of like biting my hand. I was very surprised by it and excited, and it’s a real treat as an actor to get to do something like that.”

The actress said she loved the idea that Sally was finding pleasure in this performance as Emily, even though it was entirely unnecessary.

“I mean, it’s a total pivot from anything you’ve seen Sally do before. It’s a full physical transformation with the wig and nails and the accent, and I think it’s so bleak,” she said. “We did have a nice time making it and for Sally, I think she’s trapped in this total hellscape of her own making in a way. But within that, I think she’s out there giving the performance of her career as Emily the waitress. There’s no reason for her to be putting on that accent and this character at this stage in their getaway and yet she’s committed. That’s the last little piece of her from her prior life that we can see. No one’s watching, but she wants to give her Meryl Streep performance (laughs).”

Goldberg called it a “wild ride” but also a great example of how dynamic the tone of “Barry” can be that an episode like this one fits within the narrative.

“It felt like we were in a different show, but in a really exciting way. I’m always impressed with the elasticity of this tone of what the show can hold,” she said. “I hope the audience goes with us, but it felt like we’re taking a big swing. It was good fun, it was very twisted.”

As for Sally’s headspace from Hader’s perspective — who wrote and directed this episode — the showrunner said it’s rooted in a scene from earlier in the season where Sally shows her mom her show “Joplin.”

“I always thought it was interesting that when they watch ‘Joplin’ her mother says, ‘You don’t have a kid, you’re not married, what are you talking about?’ I think making ‘Joplin’ was always this version of Sally of what her life could have been,” Hader told TheWrap. “And now she kind of feels like she deserves that life. But the reason she stays, and I thought it was very important, is that moment when there’s a knock on the door and it’s like, ‘Thank God Barry’s here.’ Their bond is as fugitives. That’s their biggest bond. They’re amazing at the fugitive business. They’re terrible parents. But she’s living his dream. It’s a nightmare for her, but I think there’s a part of her that feels like, maybe this is what I deserve.”

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