American comedian Bill Hader has been steadily establishing himself as an original artistic voice, especially after the success of his brand new show Barry in which he plays the role of a socially awkward hitman who joins an improv class. Barry has gone on to win several major accolades and is regarded by many as one of the greatest comedy shows of the last decade.
In an interview, Hader commented on the artistic process of working on Barry: “So much of it is following emotion, wherever the emotion takes you, and just being true and honest to the characters. Doing that, you get funny stuff, and then really tragic stuff, and that’s kind of how life is. Finding those moments and not shying away from that stuff, it’s amazing, what will hold. [But] certain things wont hold, tonally. It’s a very fine tuned process.”
He also recalled his childhood experiences, claiming that he found comfort in great cinema as a teenager because he suffered from anxiety: “I remember seeing Clockwork Orange and Taxi Driver at a sleepover. This is the [thing] with Cinemax: People thought we were watching softcore porn, and we were actually watching the great films of the ’70s.”
As a part of Criterion’s periodic feature, Hader was invited to select 10 of his favourite films of all time. However, the film-obsessed comedian was so excited by the extensive library of Criterion that he couldn’t control himself. Instead of choosing just ten, Hader ended up curating a selection of 20 cinematic masterpieces that he loves the most.
Among his picks, Hader chose Brian De Palma’s Sisters: “I love early Brian De Palma thrillers, and this is one of the best. Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt are great. What Psycho did for taking a shower this movie did for giving a birthday cake to your girlfriend. And where Charles Durning’s character ends up is hilarious.”
He also insisted that Wes Anderson’s debut feature is his magnum opus: “Bottle Rocket remains my favourite Wes Anderson movie—and I love all of his movies. Dignan was a character I felt I knew from my life but had never seen in a movie, much less as the lead of a movie. ‘How did an asshole like Bob get such a nice kitchen?’ is one of my favourite lines…and it’s offscreen.”
Check out Bill Hader’s 20 favourite films of all time, ranging from Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese noir films to Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age cult classics.
See the entire list below.
Bill Hader’s 20 favourite films:
- High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
- Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa, 1949)
- Good Morning (Yasujirō Ozu, 1959)
- George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2000)
- The Hit (Stephen Frears, 1984)
- Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan, 1986)
- Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)
- Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson, 1996)
- Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)
- Sisters (Brian De Palma, 1972)
- The Earrings of Madame de… (Max Ophüls, 1953)
- Le plaisir (Max Ophüls, 1952)
- Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986)
- Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962)
- Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
- Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
- The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)
- The Steel Helmet (Samuel Fuller, 1951)
- Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
- This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)
While naming the films that influenced him the most, Hader said: “I first saw This Is Spinal Tap when I was seven or eight, and it totally changed my life. This was comedy. This was how you performed comedy. It gave me a leg up at an early age… Listening to those three guys talking about how they created and related to these characters, how they approached scenes, and where the inspiration for each scene came from taught me a lot.”
He also included Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law in the aforementioned category: “When I was seventeen, I dressed like John Lurie and Tom Waits in Down by Law. They were the apex of cool in my book. This is my favourite Jim Jarmusch movie. The ‘I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream’ scene is classic.”