Everything is new in Barry season 4. Since the show’s time skip a few episodes back, everyone looks a little different. But nobody looks more different than Stephen Root’s Fuches.
When he’s finally released from prison in episode 6, he looks almost nothing like the mild-mannered everyman he passed as before. Now he goes by the Raven, complete with prison tattoos, a white tank top, painted black nails, and crazy eyes (never leave home without them). It’s a persona Root relished getting to play — and one, he says, where the finishing touches were ultimately hammered out practically day-of.
“I think [Barry star and co-creator Bill Hader] had a physical description in his head all throughout the season,” Root tells Polygon. “And we had to decide on the day how much of the transformation you were going to see — are you going to see his whole body? Are you just going to see a neck?”
Ultimately they decided on the whole body, which allows us to see how much Fuches has changed. His arms and chest are covered in tattoos (floral, skeletal, and even a red cross on his bicep), all pulled from an array of options he and the makeup artist who designed them had available. Root’s favorite is the crosshairs on the back of the Raven’s neck, something he “didn’t even know if you’d see.” (Don’t worry, you can.)
“It was endemic of this character that he would have a target right there on his neck,” Root says. It all went to his conception of Fuches as fundamentally changed by his time in prison, altering everything from his appearance to the way he carries himself. He was playing the same character, but with a completely different toolset. “My favorite characterization of the Raven is: He carries that little bag of clothes out [of prison]. But he doesn’t carry it like a lunch pail like some schlub. I decided, I’m going to grab the front of it.
“He just grabbed it because it’s of no importance to him. And he gives it to somebody that’s of no importance. And that kind of grounded me to the stillness of this guy.”
Like so many other people on Barry, it’s a stillness born of brokenness, a hurt from Barry (Hader) betraying him that metastasized within him to create something darker. Of course, it also left him in a better position in prison — Root cites the lunchroom scene where everyone waits for him to eat as the moment that catalyzed the venom within Fuches to something else, and set him on the path to becoming the Raven.
“He is now a powerful person within that space, which he wasn’t before; he was being reviled and made fun of. So now that he has that power I think in the intervening years he got more and more confident. He put more and more tattoos on; he became grounded and centered and OK with being a killer,” Root says.
But though everything is new in this future world where Barry is a dad, Sally (Sarah Goldberg) is a mom, and Cousineau (Henry Winkler) is in hiding, the Raven is as much Fuches as he’s ever been.
“I would describe Fuches as a lost lamb,” Root says. “And just a selfish person that [like], If you don’t do what I want you to — it’s almost like a baby.
“But it’s all about respect. When he finally gets respect, that’s when he changes.”
Barry’s fourth and final season is now airing on Sunday nights on HBO and Max. The series finale is May 28.