Henry Winkler: Men my age are sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring

The veteran actor is enjoying a career renaissance thanks to his role in dark comedy Barry.
The veteran actor is enjoying a career renaissance thanks to his role in dark comedy Barry.

Henry Winkler described his late career flourish starring in black comedy Barry as a “dream”.

The veteran actor, 73, was responsible for one of the most heart-warming moments at last year’s Emmys when he scooped an award – 42 years after he was first nominated.

Winkler, who achieved worldwide fame while starring as Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli on Happy Days in the 1970s, won outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series for his work on Barry.

Henry Winkler
Henry Winkler said he knew black comedy Barry was ‘different’ when he read the script (Sean Dempsey/PA)

The sitcom centres on Bill Hader’s titular character, a hitman-turned-actor who is taking drama lessons from Winkler’s Gene Cousineau.

Barry is returning for a second season with Winkler reprising his role. 

Winkler said he never thought he would still be successful at this stage of his career.

He told the Press Association: “You dream of it, you cannot imagine it’s happening, I am so grateful because it’s just been an amazing moment in my life.

“Men my age are sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Some of them have unplugged it and put it in the closet! And here I am having this great time.”

Henry Winkler
Henry Winkler said his late career flourish in Barry is a ‘dream’ (BBC/PA)

Winkler, whose acting credits also include Childrens Hospital and Arrested Development, believes Barry’s production team – including Hader and co-creator Alec Berg – deserve much of the credit for the show’s popularity.

He said: “It’s well received but for really good reason. It’s well written, they cast it, they direct it – these guys are major major showrunners, they are major talents.”

Season two of Barry, according to Winkler, will be “more reflective”, and will ask questions of the human condition such as if change is possible.

Central to the show’s success is the chemistry between Winkler and Hader, who on the same night Winkler won his Emmy took home the prize for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series.

Winkler compared his on-screen relationship with Hader in Barry to the one he shared on Happy Days with Ron Howard.

He said: “Either you have it or you don’t, there’s no such thing as made up chemistry. I love Bill, I love him as a friend, I love him as a colleague and I love him as an acting partner.

“We have a great rhythm and it’s unspoken. That has not happened often. It first happened when I first got here to Hollywood with Ron Howard on Happy Days. It’s something that just happens.”

Speaking of when he first realised Barry was going to be a hit, Winkler said: “When I read the pilot at home and I was going to go in to audition, I knew I was reading caviar and not chicken soup. It was that different.”

Barry season two will air on Sky Atlantic on April 3.