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A Deep Dive into Henry Winkler’s Role in 'Barry'

Cast of Barry attends Premiere Of HBO "Barry" at the Neuehouse, Hollywood, CA on March 21, 2018 (Eugene Powers / Shutterstock.com)

Cast of Barry attends Premiere Of HBO "Barry" at the Neuehouse, Hollywood, CA on March 21, 2018 (Eugene Powers / Shutterstock.com)

Transforming Into Character: A Deep Dive into Henry Winkler’s Role in 'Barry'


We're intrigued by individuals who leap into the shoes of fictional characters, making them as real as can be on screen. Among them, Henry Winkler stands tall, best known as “the Fonz" in “Happy Days," having carved a niche in the hearts of fans across the globe.

Winkler’s profound impact on the film and television industry is undeniable, but it's his recent role in ‘Barry,' that has garnered immense interest. The HBO series underlines his exceptional talent like never before as we see him embody the character, Gene Cousineau, a role that has gifted him an overdue Emmy.

Henry Winkler's Role in 'Barry'

In 'Barry,' Henry Winkler portrays Gene Cousineau, an acting coach whose personality is larger than life. The character is eccentric, loves the performance arts, and works hard to mold budding actors despite his onstage failures. Winkler’s brilliant representation has not only drawn praise from viewers but also earned him critical acclaim. But how exactly does Winkler delve so deeply into his role?

Building the Character

Acting is an art that transcends beyond the surface level. It revolves around identifying the character’s intricate details and using them as building blocks for the show. Winkler’s approach to character creation is deeply immersive. He makes the character part of his persona gradually, absorbing their idiosyncrasies, quirks, and unique traits in a methodical fashion.

He states that acting isn't just about knowing one's lines. Instead, it's about how well one can blur the line between self and character and mold into the role effortlessly. Winkler explains that he doesn't focus on a particular technique while building his character. Instead, the script serves as his guide, helping him determine what feels genuine and appropriate for Gene Cousineau.

The Physicality of the Character

Every role demands a specific physicality, shaping how the character talks, walks, or moves. Winkler, in 'Barry,' understood this well. He focused on Gene's physical aspects, perfecting his mannerisms and gestures. His approach was to understand and imbibe Gene's characteristics, creating a physical mirror image of the character through his performance. Winkler opines that the physicality brings an air of authenticity to the role, making it relatable, real, and compelling to the audience.

Becoming Gene Cousineau

Winkler creatively personifies Gene Cousineau, basing his representation on real-life inspirations. Reminiscing his days at Yale School of Drama, Winkler drew his inspiration from his teachers. Their passion, eccentricities, methods, all fed into Gene, thereby projecting a fuller and richer image of the character on-screen.

According to Winkler, Gene is a 'desperate man' who is passionate about performance arts and the pursuit of perfection. This passion is both Gene's strength and downfall, as it often leads him to make misguided decisions. Winkler uses this core trait as a steppingstone, building and refining his onscreen character.

Personal Growth

Interestingly, playing Gene Cousineau also led to personal growth for Winkler. He states that his role has helped him learn more about himself and acting in general. Living as Gene on the set has assisted him in understanding nuances he had not come across before. In this sense, Winkler and Gene merged, growing and learning together, thereby enhancing the overall performance.

In Conclusion

Henry Winkler's role as Gene Cousineau in 'Barry' stands as a testament to his absolute dedication and passion as an actor. His methodical approach to character building, focusing on blending the character's physicality into his own, and drawing inspiration from real-life instances has yielded a performance that is both unique and authentic. As we await the next season of 'Barry,' Winkler's portrayal of Gene will surely keep us hooked and looking forward to more.