Bill Hader on the Music That Made Him

On a recent Friday afternoon, a stubbled Bill Hader strolls up to the Coffee Bean on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, California, already clutching a to-go coffee from earlier in the day. Looking like a mid-finals-week grad student in a purple zippered hoodie and jeans, he is deep into marathon editing and coloring sessions for his bleak hitman comedy, “Barry,” now in its second season on HBO. Somehow, this is the first purely sunny day in Los Angeles in a month, so Hader and I take advantage and sit outside. But before we get too settled, a fan spots and praises the conspicuously browed actor. “Oh, thank you, man,” Hader responds in his nasally rasp. After the fan retreats, Hader chuckles, realizing we’re sitting right next to to the studio’s tour route. We head inside.

Though he is understandably fatigued from the long days—Hader not only stars in “Barry,” but also serves as a writer, director, and executive producer for the show—the moment we begin to discuss music, he gets animated. Opening his phone’s music app, Hader scrolls through an eclectic collection of artists he’s considering to soundtrack “Barry”—jazz great Jimmy Smith, reggae star Marcia Griffiths, psychedelic funk band Khruangbin, and more. “I’m always on a quest to find everything,” he says. “It’s not a completist thing, it’s just that I get excited by it, and I want to learn as much as I can.”

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