Adventures of Possibility
#1: Behind the Scenes with Actor Anthony Carrigan
You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. -C.S. Lewis
In this episode, Anthony Carrigan visits to discuss playing his character, NoHo Hank, in the HBO series Barry. He shares what it’s like working with Bill Hader and his hope for hero Henry Winkler. (Turns out his wish came true for both Bill Hader and Henry Winkler!) Anthony also shares the exercise he practices on way to set in NoHo Hank’s accent. He talks about what it’s like living with the autoimmune disease alopecia areata, and how shifting his mindset from shame to self acceptance opened up more, instead of less acting roles. He walks us through the romantic story of meeting his wife, and shares with kids how he diffuses bullying.
2:08 – Creation of character NoHo Hank for the HBO show Barry
3:11 – What it’s like working with Bill Hader
4:02 – His wish for Henry Winkler that came true!
6:04 – When diagnosed with alopecia areata
9:10 – His favorite Go To Lines when people ask why he has no hair
12:38 – His view on self love and acceptance
12:48 – Visit to kids camp, sharing about bully’s, and personal experience
18:17 – Sharing about meeting his wife
20:29 – The music his sisters played for him growing up and learning to dance
22:37 – The most important thing you can do for yourself
24:03 – The exercise he does on his way to the set of Barry
25:26 – Speaking in NoHo Hanks accent
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ANTHONY:
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Anthony and I would love to hear from you. What’s one area in your life you’d like to bring more gratitude or acceptance to? What step, small or large, are you willing to declare and get into action?
Be one of the bold people, making big changes, living brighter lives…We’re cheering for you!
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I’m Kris Adams and this is life. Welcome to the Adventures of Possibility Podcast, episode number 1
We all stumble and fall in life. It’s the choice to stand up again that holds the key from turning adversity into possibility. Join me on the journey, so that you get inspired to stand tall too
This episode is brought to you today by whatever inspires you
KRIS I’m here with Actor Anthony Carrigan in Scottsdale at the National Alopecia Areata Foundation’s annual conference. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease which causes one’s hair to fall out. Anthony’s known for his roles as the bad guy, but here, he’s all good and known for his similar look of being bald and boldly himself. Anthony, welcome. I’m so happy you’re here with us today
ANTHONY Thank you, thank you so much, it’s really great to be here
KRIS Your presence at the conference has been so up-lifting
ANTHONY Fantastic. Honestly, I feel uplifted by it. It’s always so wonderful to be surrounded by such beautiful beings. Hair, patchy hair, no hair at all, it’s all good, and there’s such love in community, so that’s what it’s all about
KRIS Yes. Exactly. Well, your current acting role is NoHo Hank, on the HBO series Barry
KRIS Which I love
ANTHONY Oh, Fantastic
KRIS You’ve taken the traditional stereo type of gangster and turned it upside down by revealing a loving, caring, big-hearted, not to mention stylish, (Anthony LAUGHS) teddy-bear-kind-of-guy. So how did you come up with this combination and what is your favorite part about him to play?
ANTHONY Yeah, well, I had a blast. I mean when I first read the script, it really kind of gave itself over to this really interesting dichotomy. It does this tightrope walk of being very funny, but also very dark. It’s a very difficult kind of tone to pin down, but I feel like the creators did it quite well. And I feel like the creation of NOHO Hank, I knew he was a Russian Mobster, or Chechen Mobster and I knew what everyone else was gonna do and so I kind of wanted to play against that and go in a really different direction. And also personally, just as an actor, I do want to be playing more nice guys. So I really kind of set myself up in the best way possible, because I get to be this formidable gangster, but also, just be sweet as pie
KRIS Yes, and you do such a great job at it
ANTHONY Thank you
KRIS You really balance those two things so well (LAUGHS)
I hear you and Bill Hader like to see who can make each other laugh the most
ANTHONY Yeah, we sure do. I don’t know if I’m winning that game (LAUGHS) No, we have a blast. We really do. It’s been so wonderful working with him, cause he’s such a brilliant actor and also he was directing it as well and he wrote. So, it’s not often that you get to actually work underneath someone who just knows what it’s about and knows what it should be about. And it was really special to have someone who understood what it is to be an actor and all those pressures, and just to kind of alleviate that to get the best product possible
KRIS What’s it like working with Henry Winkler?
ANTHONY Henry is, he’s just like a gift to humanity. I mean he is the nicest, the sweetest, the most gentle, and the most charismatic man you’ll ever meet. I mean, they say, you should never meet your hero, you should absolutely meet Henry Winkler. He will never disappoint you. He is such a lovely, lovely man and he’s so talented. He just absolutely kills it on Barry, and I don’t know, I want him to get an Oscar—Oscar, I want him to get an Emmy for it
KRIS Yeah, an Oscar after that too
ANTHONY He’s so good. I wouldn’t be surprised if he landed an Oscar as well
KRIS I have a little side story about Henry, actually.
KRIS Many years ago, when I was a Nanny for a family. We were at a ski resort in Deer Valley, and he must have been there with his family too. Somehow, I don’t know. He and I ended up side by side on this race course, this solemn course, and neither one of us knew what we were doing. We didn’t know how to ski, it was like, how did we both end up here? And how did I end up next to Henry Winkler?
ANTHONY Oh Boy
KRIS Anyway, we had so much fun, after we made it down alive, we high-fived, and you’re right, he’s just the sweetest guy
ANTHONY He really is. He’s just so so thoughtful, and when he looks at you, he’s really looking at you. He’s not checked out, he’s not somewhere else. He’s just there and present. And, there are very few people like that in this world who can really just devote full attention, and especially after the life that he’s had. Because he’s had a crazy life. You’d think that Hollywood would kind of jade someone in a certain way, but not at all. Henry’s just—
KRIS It’s almost made him better in a way. Not that I know him personally
ANTHONY Yeah. He’s just the classiest guy
KRIS Yeah… So, tell us when you were first diagnosed with alopecia aerate and walk us through what life looked like for you
ANTHONY So, I was diagnosed when I was three with alopecia aerate and I was pretty young, so I don’t really remember, but as I began to get a bit older, I could kind of see the effects of it. There’d be comments or teasing, or “concerned people.” I use quotation marks there because it’s like, how concerned are you, and how much are you just curious? And I think it was very jarring to me, to kind of, essentially not be a little boy anymore, but instead, just something to be looked at. You kind of loose your humanity a little bit in that sense and it’s a very difficult thing to deal with. And so my parents didn’t want me to get teased and didn’t want me to get bullied, so we just kind of started covering up. Any, you know, that definitely worked for the most part, but also, I think in hiding it, I developed a real sense of shame with it. That I had to hide it at all costs. And, I think along with that, comes a lot of stress, and that took a long time to actually deconstruct and understand and let go of when I got to the point where I literally could not be an actor anymore with trying to control my hair growth. I mean, it’s not possible. So, when I made the decision to kind of just go hairless as an actor, it was a big deal for me because it was all of twenty something years of accumulated stress and accumulated fear that I was breaking and I was breaking through. So it was the best decision that I could of possible made. But never in a million years would I have imagined that this thing that I carried such shame with, would actually turn into the thing that makes me (LAUGHS) really successful. Makes me who I am. Make me feel more myself than I’ve ever been. So, yeah, I highly recommend it (LAUGHS) If you can get alopecia out there, get it. I don’t know if it’s a street drug right now, it all the kids are doin it, but I highly recommend it. I mean, I think it’s the coolest thing, I really do. I just think it’s so unique. It’s so different. All these models are now shaving their eyebrows and shaving their heads. I just think it’s a movement. Yeah know, jump on board
KRIS (LAUGHS) Kind of on that note, what are your favorite “go to” lines when people ask you, why you have no hair, or what is this look he’s got goin on? Share about that valley girl’s comment to you and how you diffused it
ANTHONY Yeah, right. Yeah, so you know what’s funny, I’ll start from this point and I’ll kind of work backwards
ANTHONY: Because at this point now, it’s so funny, no one now really comments on my alopecia anymore. No one even notices. It’s the weirdest thing. Whereas when I was really scared that people were gonna find out about it, when I was covering up, that’s when everyone would notice. So maybe I was telegraphing, or something. But, you know, I definitely had moments where, there was one hilarious one, that you just referenced, where there was a total valley girl who came up to me, and (VALLEY GIRL VOICE) was just like, “What’s like the deal with your hair? Like to you? Like, why do you not have any hair? (ANTHONY VOICE) And I was just like, “um, ok, well yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have alopecia and it’s an autoimmune thing, so it’s like my body’s confused and it attacks the hair follicles, but ya know, I think it’s actually really cool, and, I think it’s a really kind of fun look. It’s totally different. Is there something about you that’s pretty unique, that you enjoy about yourself?” And she was like, (VALLEY GIRL VOICE) “I mean, yeah, like, totally. No, like, yeah, absolutely. Um, I have to go, so like, I’ll see ya later.” (ANTHONY VOICE) and I was like, okay, well that’s fine, but you know it’s so funny. I was alway so afraid that people were gonna kind of call me out on stuff and I wouldn’t know how to react. I think that’s the scariest thing. Is just the calling out, but if you have something in your back pocket, just be like, oh look, I’m gonna use this as an opportunity to tell you what alopecia is, and I can literally make a sound bite of something simple, something quick, to the point, and put it on them and just be like, what about you? Do you have anything that’s maybe something different about you, that no one knows about? And, I find that’s it’s really helpful just to have that in your back pocket and I feel like it kind of diffuses the fear of the situation when you have a sense of preparedness. It gives you a little bit of control
KRIS Yeah. I love it. And who you are and what you represent, is something far bigger than being dealt a challenging hand in life. You’ve managed to move past that pain with enthusiasm, and courage, and acceptance, and you’re living an empowering and creative life beyond loss. So thank you for that. That’s really. It means a lot I know
KRIS To me and I know to many other people here, so we’re gonna broadcast it out even farther
ANTHONY That’s fantastic. I consider myself incredibly, just incredibly lucky and very grateful. And it’s really lovely to kind of meet and encounter such wonderful, beautiful people you know. And I think the world would be an incredibly different place if self-acceptance and self-love were something that was championed a lot more
KRIS Yeah. So NAAF’s Communications Director, Gary Sherwood, and I were chatting one day about you visiting the kid’s camp. And he and I both are big fans of Barry, and NOHO Hank, who you play. Gary quoted the line you say about the Bolivians, “They’re small, but they’re nice. Mingle.” (ANTHONY LAUGHS) He got a kick out of saying that to you when visiting the kids camp
ANTHONY (LAUGHS) I know, I know. I totally picked up on that. I was like, well played Gary, well played
KRIS (LAUGHS) You really, you were truly amazing with those kids. Let’s have a listen to you sharing with them
ANTHONY (SPEAKS TO CHILDREN) How afraid was I when I was going to go on TV without any hair? It was a little bit scary I think
(LITTLE GIRL ASKS, “DO YOU HAVE TO GO ON STAGE?”)
ANTHONY Yes, I do have to go on stage
(LITTLE GIRL ASKS, “IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE?”)
ANTHONY Yeah, in front of an audience. You know what was actually scarier than just going out there the way I look now? What was actually kind of scarier, was when I was trying to be someone who I wasn’t. That was actually the scariest thing. When I was really scared that people were gonna find out that I looked different. And I got to a point where I love myself now. I love the way that I look, but before that, it was super scary. And I did a lot of work with just accepting myself and loving myself and looking in the mirror, and just being like, “You’re awesome, you look amazing, and you can take over the world.” And then after that, I didn’t have a single problem, I’d show up on camera, a just be like (CHARACTER VOICE) “Ready for my closeup.”
ANTHONY Do I still beat myself up sometimes? Yeah, I beat myself up sometimes, and it’s hard. Life can get hard sometimes. And you’ll have your good days, and you’ll have your bad days. You’ll have good days where nothing bothers you at all, and you can kind of take anything that life throws your way, and some days it’s really tough and it’s okay, it’s okay when life is really tough, even when those days are really difficult because the important thing is that you just remember to be a good friend to yourself. Always
(CHILD ASKS, “DID PEOPLE BULLY YOU?”)
ANTHONY Did people bully me? Yeah, I did get bullied. I did. It was really hard. Yeah, I got bullied by a lot of people at one point. And, yeah, I wish I could tell you that bullies are imaginary. They’re not. You know, people can be really insensitive. But I did learn this really really interesting thing about bullies. Do you guys want to know what it is?
(KIDS SAY YES.)
ANTHONY Okay, I’m getting a few yeses. (SAYS LOUDER) Do you want to know what it is?
(KIDS SAY YES LOUDER)
ANTHONY That’s what I’m talking about. I want to be blown through that wall, okay. So here’s what I learned about bullies. Anything mean that bullies say to you, I promise you, they are saying the exact same thing to themselves. If they’re being mean to you and calling you mean names, or they’re commenting on your alopecia, you can look at them and say, “Oh, huh. This hurts and this stings, but wow. What stings more? Them doing this once to me, or the fact that they probably do that to themselves hundred’s of times a day. And can really harm themselves because they’re caught in a thought pattern that is not helpful for them. And you can view that and be like well, why would I listen to someone who’s just going to be mean to themselves and just turn it on other people? I don’t need that, you know
KRIS So, how was it being in there with all those sweet kids?
ANTHONY It was great. It was great. I mean, I learn so much, you know. I really do. And the other thing to, to remember, they get it. Kids get it. They understand things in such a huge profound way, that you don’t need to dance around a topic. They’re gonna go straight into it. They’re gonna ask the question because they get it. They get a lot more than you would kind of think they would. And it’s so funny because sometimes I’m like who’s protecting who? Is it the parent protecting the kid or is the kid abstaining from saying something to protect the parent? You know, it’s a really interesting kind of dynamic. I had a blast in there, and it’s always helpful to hear those questions, and just see where they’re at
KRIS Yes, yes. Ah, you recently got married
ANTHONY I did, yeah
ANTHONY Thank you very much
KRIS What is your wife’s name, and were did you guys meet?
ANTHONY Her name is Gia, and we met on the Subway in New York city actually
KRIS Really? That sounds like a Romantic Comedy right there
ANTHONY It very much, yeah it’s definitely a romantic comedy
KRIS Maybe your next role. A leading man in a romantic
ANTHONY I know, seriously. We should probably write it down because I bet it would make a great movie. Yeah, we were in New York, it was the summer solstice, it was the hottest day of the year. I got on the train. And so, we were both on the platform, I was like wow, there’s this beautiful girl. I kind of couldn’t stop looking at her. Also, I didn’t want to be a creep, you know, so I kind of kept my distance. So we both got on the train. I wasn’t paying attention. Obviously. And I got off at the next stop, so did she, and I’m heading towards the exit and I see that I got off a stop too soon. So I was like, okay, well it’s way too hot to walk like ten blocks in the New York, sweltering, garbage smelling summer, so I was, you know what, I’m just gonna take the next train, and I turn around, and I see that she’s standing there. She’s the only person standing there. So, I was like okay, I’ve gotta go up and talk to her, so I did, you know and I got her number by the next stop, and the next night we were kissing on the Brooklyn Bridge.
KRIS Ah, that’s a movie I wanna watch
ANTHONY Yes, absolutely
KRIS (LAUGHS) How does Gia feel about hair?
ANTHONY It’s so funny because Gia can’t stand hair. If it were up to her she would, if she could take the alopecia pill, she absolutely would. She can’t stand it. So, it’s kind of a match made in heaven that (LAUGHS) that I’ve got no hair
KRIS Last night there was a moment at the 90’s dance party when the children and the families and the adults were all having fun on the dance floor, and you were right out there with them. Along side them dancing. You got some good dance moves going on
ANTHONY Thank you, thank you. I love a party. I do. I love a party
KRIS Do you have a dance background? Have you done any of that?
ANTHONY I mean I did children’s theater growing up, so I started dancing. Actually my sisters taught me to dance at a very young age. I remember them flipping on the Jackson 5 and I would just, you know start moving, figuring it out, and I love dancing. I mean it’s such a wonderful expression and I find it very cathartic too
KRIS A woman came up to me and said, ‘I was just dancing with Anthony Carrigan, and he touched my hand.’
ANTHONY (LAUGHS) Look, I was dancing with her, ya know. She touched my hand. It was, you know, a wild night
KRIS Life is short and it seems at some point through pain and suffering it becomes less about the bad things that happen, and more about focusing on efforts to lighten up, have fun, and choose kindness. Do you find that to be true?
ANTHONY Oh absolutely, yeah, it’s, I don’t think it’s beneficial to spend too much time surrounded by people who are gonna kind of bring you down, you know, it’s amazing how much time we invest in those people and invest in kind of those voices in our own heads that will kind of stop us from living our best life possible. Because ultimately, you know, not to get too morbid, but to kind of flash forward to whatever the final chapter of your life when you’re looking back on it all. You know to kind of think about how much time you spent on worrying about these people, you know, they never really were kind of looking out for you. They weren’t in your corner, so why invest in their opinion? Why invest in what matters to them? I think the most important thing you can do, is live the life that you want to live, surround yourself with people who are going to let you be you, and give yourself constant, constant reassurance that you’re loved, that you’re special, that you deserve friends, that you deserve love, and those other people who are gonna try and bring you down, you don’t need to hang out with them, you don’t need to yell at them, you don’t need to make them feel worse than the already feel, because they feel probably pretty bad, so you can kind of wish them well from afar, and really hope that they pull themselves out, but I guess, you know ultimately, maybe the best thing you can do for them is to be an example of how to love yourself, and maybe they can kind of take that, take that queue and make a change for themselves
KRIS Yeah, that’s well said. So, lastly, what would NoHo Hank say is the one thing that keeps his disposition sunny instead of sad?
ANTHONY Oh, wow, that’s a great great question. I think it ultimately comes down to gratitude. You know. It’s funny I would do this exercise every day on the way to set, where I would just in NoHo Hanks voice, I would point certain things out that I just thought would be great and that I was grateful to actually see, like, oh that guy, look at that guy watering his lawn. That’s fantastic. He’s got a lawn and he’s taking care of that. Wow, how special. That guy has three dogs. What a handful, but I bet he loves all of them, and just like taking in all of these little moments, and being grateful to kind of, to see, because the way I view it is that, you know, obviously his name is not really NoHo Hank. He comes from a darker past, where you know he came from a lot of trouble and a lot of difficulty. So, and the fact that he’s then in sunny Los Angeles, there’s a lot to be grateful for. So, if you can kind of make the time to be grateful for whatever it is in your life, it really does brighten everything up. It really does just give you a much sunnier and cheerful disposition.
KRIS Before we wrap up can you say, would HBO let you say it in his accent?
ANTHONY Yeah, let me see. I could probably do a soundbite I suppose. Since we’re in this room, (NOHO HANK’S ACCENT) This room is great, you know, look at the Hotel minibar here, widescreen TV’s, we’ve got artwork. It’s fantastic, someone put a lot of energy into that, you know, and now it’s hanging there for everyone to see, and it just really makes the enjoyment of this place great, you know. It’s a wonderful stay here, highly recommend it. Five stars. All the way.
KRIS (LAUGHING) Oh Anthony, you are a rare breed of living life out loud and loving it, oh my god, despite the challenges.
ANTHONY (LAUGHING) Absolutely
KRIS And your example paves the way for other’s to have that courage too. Thank you so much for speaking with me today
ANTHONY Oh, for sure, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure
KRIS If you like this episode, then please, share the love, leave a comment, write a review, and subscribe too. I thank you. To make a donation to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, go to naaforg, go to krisadamslife for more of life’s inspirations. From my heart to yours, sending all good things