Barry star Sarah Goldberg was the last to know about her Emmy nom for supporting actress in a comedy series. When the announcements were made, she was vacationing on a small Greek island with patchy cellphone reception. And her boyfriend mistakenly relayed the list of last year’s nominees.
“We were like, ‘Ah, well! Brilliant for the show! Now, let’s go watch this Greek sunset,’ ” Goldberg recalled. “Then, once we got reception again, my phone kept buzzing.” That’s because it turns out she had been nominated for her second-season turn as Sally, the self-absorbed aspiring actress with a buried past.
The Vancouver-born 34-year-old spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about her theater-to-TV transition, her familial bond with the cast and her hopes for Sally’s future.
How did it feel seeing the show receive a flurry of nominations?
It is utterly mad! It’s so exciting that it’s all of the series regulars. It truly feels singularly special because I think that it does show how this isn’t an individual endeavor.
You’ve said there’s a sense of community in the theater world. Do you feel that with this cast?
I really do, in a very specific way. Bill [Hader]’s SNL background helps that because he’s used to building sketches in groups. All these brilliant actors, like D’Arcy Carden and Rightor Doyle and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, they come from New York and London theater and UCB. These are all people who are used to working collaboratively and in a “best idea wins,” no-ego atmosphere. Everybody’s bringing that, even the much more experienced members of the group. We’re like a family. We do all skip to work in a very cheesy, Canadian kind of way.
You’re used to cycling through theatrical roles. What’s it like to now be known primarily as Sally?
I did theater for so long and I’ve done play after play. I loved it because I had this ideal situation — besides being utterly broke. You’re at work, then you go out the stage door and maybe people are waiting to get a picture or something. Then you get on the subway and you’re totally back to normal. With TV, it certainly is different. Barry is the first thing that I’ve done that I have this kind of visibility that I was really unaccustomed to.
Do people have a hard time distinguishing you from the character?
I’ve had the odd strange encounter with people where it’s a little more difficult for them to separate fiction from reality. I try not to worry about it too much because you can’t control people’s perception of you. My job is to fully flesh her out. I realize she’s not the most likable person, and that’s on purpose. They didn’t want to write some sweet girl next door and I didn’t want to play that. In season one, we see Sally behave the way she behaves and people are very judgmental of how she is — you know, narcissistic and self-centered. Then, the beauty of season two is being able to explain the complexities. How did they become that person? Maybe in a different set of circumstances, they could all be better versions of themselves. But as it is, life is bringing out the worst in them.
What developments would you like to see for Sally in season three?
I just want to keep pushing for complexity, and I would like to even go darker. Where we left things off was, “Here is the moment when she’s getting everything she thought she’d ever wanted, but actually, the cost is too high.” It would be interesting to explore the idea of achieving the success we think we want, but without being fully cooked, without being mentally healthy.
So, you want her to go the full Black Swan?
Listen! I want Gena Rowlands. I want to go the whole way! I want A Woman Under the Influence. I want all of it!
Have you even started thinking about the Emmy ceremony yet?
The thing that’s hard about those ceremonies is they’re so chaotic. It would be a lovely thing to be present — really present — and to sit with [fellow Barry nominees] Stephen [Root], Anthony [Carrigan], Henry [Winkler] and Bill [Hader] and soak in this moment. But I don’t think you can prepare for it. You’ve just got to take a few deep breaths, maybe do a meditation app and hope for the best.
What’s your game plan for the red carpet? You seem to favor pantsuits and dresses with pockets.
Who doesn’t love a pocket? I mean, you’re up there, there’s so many flashing lights, so many things are being shouted at you. I haven’t quite found my comfort zone with that part of the job. But a pocket? Man, there’s a lot of comfort in a pocket, and I have a dream that I’ll be wearing some in September.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.