Born and raised in Winchester, actor Anthony Carrigan, 36, graduated from Winchester High School and attended Carnegie Mellon University. He spent many years doing theater before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue TV and film work. He made his TV debut on The Forgotten before moving on to the NBC drama Parenthood. In 2014, he decided to embrace his alopecia, an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss, and he is an advocate for body positivity and self-acceptance. Currently, he plays a scene-stealing Chechen mobster, NoHo Hank, on HBO’s dark comedy Barry, opposite Bill Hader, and he previously starred as the evil Victor Zsasz on the Fox series Gotham. He lives with his wife in LA.
Jonathan Soroff: You play all these psychos. Do you think everyone has a dark side?
Anthony Carrigan: Yeah. I certainly do. If people are pretending they don’t, watch out for that fucking person, because they’re obviously in denial about something or they’ve got bodies stashed somewhere in their house.
Role you were born to play? Well, I grew up doing Shakespeare. It would be really fun to play Iago [in Othello]. I play a lot of villains, but he’s kind of at the top of the food chain for me.
Nightmare audition? I’ve got quite a few of those, but OK: There was one where the director was so nuts and he really wanted to make me super uncomfortable, so he had an assistant tie my hands behind my back and blindfold me, while he walked around me like a tiger with its prey. He had me do the scene that way, and it legitimately made me never want to work with this dude.
Role you were up for, but got away? You mean the 10,000 that got away? This industry is totally comprised of the jobs that you don’t get. You just go into the room while you’re auditioning with the mindset that it’s probably not going to happen. Might as well just have fun and give it a shot.
Any role where the actor who did get it went on to win an award or something for it? It was actually kinda hilarious. [Laughs.] It didn’t win any awards, but I actually went in for Captain America, which was hysterical. Even in the breakdown, it said 6-foot-3, blonde hair, blue eyes. I was like, “Umm…yeah. Sure. Let’s give this a shot anyway.” It was a bit of a stretch.
Director you’re dying to work with? So many. A ton. But it would be pretty amazing to work with Ron Howard. I just met him recently, and he’s such a lovely guy.
Anyone you’d never work with again and why? Sure. Look. There are a lot of assholes in this world and a lot in this industry. A ton. Ultimately, it’s about people wanting to get more attention than they have, and there are better ways to go about that. My favorite sets are the ones where there are no egos, everyone just comes to do something cool, and enjoy the company of each other. So anyone pulling that diva bullshit? I don’t need to talk to them.
Victor Zsasz—what do you have in common with him? [Laughs.] The work ethic, I suppose. I take great pains, pun intended, to make sure I do a good job. But that’s about it. When it comes to murder and torture, not my go-to.
What’s more fun: Playing the villain or the good guy? The villain. Absolutely. Especially when you’re not necessarily a psychopath. It’s fun to dip your toes in those waters. It can get a bit tricky, though. Once you start thinking in those terms, it can kind of warp everything around you. You can go to a dark place.
Are you a big comic book fan? I wouldn’t say I was a big fan, because when you really meet these people, you’re like, “Shit. Wow! These people really know their stuff.” But I definitely loved comic books growing up. I was a huge fan of Batman, especially the Michael Keaton version. I watched that so many times on my VHS tape when I was like 8 years old that I broke the tape.
What about Comic Con? Is it just the most bizarre thing in the world? I think it’s really cool. Comicon is insane, and mind-boggling how big it is. But at the same time, these people have such love and hold this kind of artwork in such high esteem that it’s very cool to see the affect it has on people’s lives.
One thing people should know about alopecia? Well, there are a few different kinds. Also, it kinda sucks to be stared at most of the time. So just be kind and considerate and don’t be a dick. Because either this person has cancer or they have alopecia, and either way, don’t be a dick.
How much money and time do you think you save in terms of grooming products and manscaping? [Laughs.] Thousands of dollars! It’s seriously so nice. I never had any idea that I wouldn’t miss hair this much. It adds hours to my life. It’s extremely liberating, and what’s cool, too, is that when I was growing up with it, it was such a source of shame. It was something I tried so hard to hide, and I think everyone has something they don’t want people to find out. Hopefully, it’s not dead bodies in their houses, but I think everyone has their thing they feel shame about. I had no idea that the thing I felt so much shame about would be the thing that I embraced, and it ended up making my career into something incredible.
What’s your best feature? My humility. [Laughs.] That kind of torpedoes that question right there. Umm … I like to listen. I think I’m a good listener.
Person from history you’d most like to play? It would be pretty cool to play Rasputin. That would be interesting. And it would certainly require the beard, the wig, the whole nine yards. That would be cool, though.
Weirdest fan encounter you’ve ever had? Well, I don’t know if it was a fan, but I was at a concert once, and this girl came up to me and was just staring at me. I said, “Hey, what’s up?” She looked at me and said, “You’re so fucking creepy.” I was like, “Oh, OK.” Then she said, “I love you. Can I get your phone number?” I was like, “Wait. What? Wow.” I didn’t end up giving it to her, but I thanked her for the compliment.
Describe your default face. My default face is probably confused with an air of skepticism.
Ever gotten mistaken for The Rock? No, but damn, that’s on my bucket list. The amount of protein that I would need to consume for that to ever happen, not to mention not having the eyebrows to give the eyebrow look? That would be very, very difficult. But I’m not averse to the idea.
Workout regimen? I’ve been climbing a lot these days, and bouldering. It’s not the monotonous, boring shit of going to the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I still do that. But it’s a very clear thing of either you can get up, or you can’t. And once you get it, it’s amazing
Tattoos: Yes or no? I love tattoos. I don’t have any, and I don’t think I ever will, but I think they’re cool. They’re a great form of self-expression. But for me, I like having a blank slate.
Is it weird that I find Bill Hader oddly sexy? No, not at all. He’s an extremely charismatic guy. I mean, I happen to find him very handsome. But he’s also just brilliant, hysterically funny, and with Barry, you can see that he has a real emotional depth. Who’d have thought that someone so funny could go someplace so dark?
What are the odds that all of us have met a murderer or serial killer without knowing it? I think everyone probably has. Isn’t there some kind of crazy statistic that there’s at least one psychopath in all of our friend groups? And yet we still hang out with them, because they pick up a round of drinks or whatever, and everyone’s like, “Hey, yeah. He’s all right.” [Laughs.]
Henry Winkler—as cool as the Fonz? He’s cooler. He’s like the sweetest, most down-to-earth guy. He’s one of those examples of someone in Hollywood who retained his integrity while staying in this business as long as he has. That’s a huge, huge feat.
Best location you ever shot in? Probably Buenos Aires. I got to do a commercial down there, and it’s just gorgeous. The people are so beautiful and kind. The food. That was a great work experience.
Thing you miss most about Boston? I get back all the time, but the thing about living there is the change of seasons. Living in Los Angeles, you have no metric for time. I’ve been here for 10 years, and you could tell me it was three, and I’d be like, “Oh, yeah. That seems about right.” You just have no idea without the markers of a shitty, awful winter. I can still drive in snow and rain, which nobody out here can do.
Last TV show you binge-watched? Right now, I’m actually rebinging Game of Thrones to get ready for the finale.
Are you good with a gun in real life? Yeah, I actually am pretty good with a handgun at a range.
Ever loved a costume so much that you kept it? No! I’ve never stolen any wardrobe. That’s against the law! I haven’t taken anything home with me that I completely fell in love with and it fit me perfectly and looked like it was designed for me. I would never!
Chances that you’d do full-frontal nudity? Umm…I suppose, ultimately, if it’s a really great director and an incredible role, then, “Yes.” For sure. If it’s a Hallmark Christmas movie, I might think twice about it. A) Because do I really want to be associated with that? And B) In what dimension would that be actually happening? That sounds like a terrifying Christmas movie.
Theater, TV or film? Probably TV right now. I grew up doing theater, and man, I’d be fucking terrified to get back on stage. It’s been 10 years, which is a long enough time to dissociate with your body and just kind of do “head and shoulders” acting. But I’ll definitely get back on stage at some point. As for movies, who doesn’t want to be in movies?
So how long before you win an Emmy? Oh, I don’t know. I don’t really give a shit about awards, really. I just want to keep working. That’s all I care about. Awards are great, but who really remembers or gives a shit who won the Emmy six years ago? It’s nice to honor actors for their work, but I would just prefer to keep on working. ◆