Across its four seasons, HBO’s Barry bent the rules of television storytelling. In a landscape dominated by tales of docile men and their descents into violence, Barry stood out as a show about a violent man unable to fully immerse himself in the docility of everyday life. The show flirted with elements of surrealism and absurdity, but a strong emotional core kept the whole project stitched together.
Costume designer Tiffany White Stanton joined the show for its fourth and final season, which sees creator and star Bill Hader taking even bigger creative swings. Chief among those creative decisions is an eight-year time jump that occurs in S4E5 “Tricky Legacies”. As Hader corrals his characters into untreaded territory, Stanton’s costuming becomes a particularly essential piece of the puzzle.
“Barry is not a futuristic show, so we wanted to keep it really real to what the audience would understand right now, as far as trends and costumes were concerned,” Stanton explains. “So I tried to keep it really classic.”
Stanton and Hader worked together to develop Barry’s revised aesthetic, considering how he might have envisioned a proper Midwestern father when he was a kid. Stanton ultimately dressed Barry up in jeans and a tucked-in plaid shirt.
“He loves his son and he’s obsessed with his son, so that Midwestern father that takes care of his family is what I was trying to aim for.”
Stanton reveled in the experience of costuming characters who were essentially wearing costumes themselves. Barry’s outfits are at best a rendering of his own imagination, and Sally — ever the actress — is thrust into her career’s latest role by donning a wig and becoming a chain-smoking waitress at a Podunk American diner.
“She’s putting on a new character,” Stanton says. “Black felt very right for that character. She’s trying to be this bad girl, and so I really wanted to show that through her costumes. She kind of had a sexy vibe to it, and I really loved how that juxtaposed with her at home, where she’s in gross sweatpants and a sweatshirt.”
Stanton notes her extensive collaboration with Sarah Goldberg, particularly as it related to Sally’s final costume. “It was really important for the audience to finally see Sally as a character in her own skin,” says Stanton.
The costume designer similarly identifies NoHo Hank actor Anthony Carrigan as a passionate collaborator. “He cares so much about costumes, and I love when actors care so much about costumes. You really can create a better storyline together.”
When Bill Hader insisted that NoHo Hank transition from his trademark polos to professional suits after the time jump, Stanton and Carrigan worked together to ensure the suits didn’t “look like a Wall Street banker” and instead captured Hank’s unique Eastern European style.
Listen to the full interview below to hear Stanton discuss her collaboration with makeup artist Corey Castellano on turning Fuches (Stephen Root) into The Raven, as well as what it was like to work on Barry‘s final film-within-a-film.
Watch Barry in its entirety streaming on Max.