Henry Winkler talks about the end of ‘Barry’

<img class="caas-img has-preview" alt="Barry co-star Henry Winkler plays Gene Cousineau. (Photo: HBO)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/eNJV1wiepokgn2V3.37sBA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/https://s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2023-04/52542e30-da54-11ed-b77e-dcbf7ee036a5″ data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/eNJV1wiepokgn2V3.37sBA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/https://s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2023-04/52542e30-da54-11ed-b77e-dcbf7ee036a5″/>

Barry co-star Henry Winkler plays Gene Cousineau. (Photo: HBO)

Henry Winkler, an entertainment fixture since he was on Happy Days in the 1970s, who’s maintained relevance over the decades in buzzy projects such as Scream, the catalog of Adam Sandler, Arrested Development and HBO’s Barry, could, at this point, just pop up every now and then in another show — or not. The checks would keep coming.

But that wouldn’t be his style. The 77-year-old feels compelled to talk about his personal views, including those on controversial issues like the need for more gun control and the absurdity of book bans, to Tennessee’s House expelling two members after their protests and, for fun, his thoughts on soup.

“I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you exactly,” Winkler tells Yahoo Entertainment about why he does this. “We’re on the earth together. And it is our responsibility. To stay silent is almost as bad as being inactive, as allowing whatever you disagree with to exist. I think it is up to us as individuals, that is a way to help each other. That is my point of view. What is your point of view? I think that this country needs to listen to each other. And if you listen to nothing else, I think it’s important to listen to the fact that you have to go to your eye doctor.”

Winkler is now sharing his family’s own experience with the eye disease geographic atrophy, an advanced form of macular degeneration (AMD) and a leading cause of blindness. He’s partnered with Apellis, a pharmaceutical brand, which this year won FDA approval for a drug meant to slow progression of the disease, to encourage older adults experiencing changes in their vision to prevent the same thing from happening to them.

“When I married Stacey, one of the gifts that I got with the marriage was my father-in-law,” says Winkler, who married Stacey Weitzman, with whom he shares two adult children and her son from a previous marriage, in 1978. “I had a very tough dad. [But] here was a man, very tall, very tweedy and a great dentist, with a wonderful sense of humor. And we got along unbelievably well. He became my dentist. You’re a dentist, you work in very small spaces. And all of a sudden, he started to have changes in his vision. He got AMD…. He couldn’t work in the small space. He had to close his practice earlier than he wanted. He couldn’t see his grandchildren. He asked his son if his son still had a beard, because he could not see his son’s face. And I thought, ‘Wow, this is a wake-up call. Here is a man I really enjoy. I’m watching him retreat into himself.’ And I thought, you know what, I now have a chance to tell people, ‘Go and have your eyes checked. Go to your doctor and have your eyes checked.”

From the Fonz to Gene Cousineau

Winkler will share more in his new memoir, Being Henry … The Fonz and Beyond, which is set to be released this fall. The author of of several previous books, including some that can be found in the children’s section of the library, says we can expect more of him, unfiltered.

“I tried to be truly honest about who I was and who I am now, how out of touch I was with the parts of my life not existing in the work world and how exciting it is to get in touch with who you are,” Winkler says. “I sincerely believe you know yourself, you know everybody, no matter who we are, where we come from, human beings on this earth share a common will, a common sense of being alive, for the most part. Being in touch with that is exhilarating. I feel horrible that I wasted so much time. That’s as honest as I can put it.”

Winkler’s acting will be in the spotlight first, though, as Barry kicked off its fourth and final season on Sunday. He, of course, returned as Gene Cousineau, the somewhat greedy and depressed acting teacher who took Barry under his wing, before finding out the sinister job his student does when he’s not running lines. But Gene himself is far from a perfect man.

Henry Winkler, Bill Hader and Sarah Goldberg attend the third season premiere of HBO's

Henry Winkler, Bill Hader and Sarah Goldberg attend the third season premiere of HBO’s Barry on April 18, 2022, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images)

Asked what his Happy Days character Fonzie would think of Gene, Winkler had a definite opinion.

“I think that the Fonz was more loyal than Gene,” Winkler says. “I think the Fonz would be upset with Gene, in the beginning, not caring about what he was doing. The Fonz was a great mechanic. He prided himself on being able to fix anything that moved. Gene prides himself on getting everyone to pay, up front and in cash.”

The end of Barry

In the first two episodes of the last batch of Barry episodes, we saw Gene watching the news conference about Barry’s arrest for the murder of Gene’s girlfriend. When Barry called Gene from prison to tell him that, despite what happened, he loved Gene, Winkler’s character was unmoved. “I got you,” he told Barry. Gene then went to a reporter with his story and reenacted an epic version of what went down. He was also confronted by Sally (Sarah Goldberg) about why he didn’t alert her that the man she was living with was a killer. These scenes, plus the determination that Janice’s father has to find out what really happened to his daughter and NoHo Hank’s conclusion that he should kill Barry, promised that the show will not end quietly.

In the third season of In the third season of

In the third season of Barry, Henry Winkler’s character, Gene Cousineau, learned a dark truth. (Photo: Merrick Morton/HBO)

Like fans of the Emmy-winning dark comedy, Winkler, who won one of those trophies for Best Supporting Actor in 2018, hates to see it end. But he gets it.

“I’m very sad. I also believe that [creators and executive producers] Bill [Hader] and Alec [Berg] have brought it to its logical conclusion. I mean, how long could Barry keep going? He’s a deeply flawed, lovable human being,” Winkler says. “I will miss the people, not only in front of the camera, but also behind the camera. You know, when you love your crew, they love you back. I mean, they take care of you like you can’t believe. And so I will be sad.”

Of course, he’s been through this before, most notably with Happy Days, which aired for 11 seasons from 1974 to 1984, and with Arrested Development. He appeared as terrible attorney Barry Zuckerkorn on the clever sitcom for 33 episodes from 2003-2005 during the show’s first run, and again on its revival a decade later.

“You work with these people 16 hours a day,” the 77-year-old says. “You’re with them for years and years and years. In the Happy Days case, I was there for 10 years with everybody! Still, they’re all part of my family today. Arrested Development was six. Barry is four. You really become reliant on these people, because you do scenes with them. You have to listen to them. They have to listen to you. It is a big loss. It is a big loss. What I had to learn was, everybody moves on. You stay friendly, you stay warm, but you don’t necessarily always stay in touch.”

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="Happy Days alumni Don Most, Ron Howard, Barbara Marshall, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross and Anson Williams reunite Nov. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Rachel Luna/Getty Images)” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/u2fk5SVk2p1uCfCXWBFAQQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/https://s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2023-04/25462820-da5a-11ed-b35b-060c67baa0b1″/><img alt="Happy Days alumni Don Most, Ron Howard, Barbara Marshall, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross and Anson Williams reunite Nov. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Rachel Luna/Getty Images)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/u2fk5SVk2p1uCfCXWBFAQQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/https://s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2023-04/25462820-da5a-11ed-b35b-060c67baa0b1″ class=”caas-img”/>

Happy Days alumni Don Most, Ron Howard, Barbara Marshall, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross and Anson Williams reunite Nov. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Rachel Luna/Getty Images)

The Happy Days cast has reunited over the years, in a world where TV looks a lot different than it did when the Garry Marshall-created sitcom first aired.

“The difference,” Winkler explains, “is sometimes the technology in how it’s made, the enormous amount of stations you could be on, but making the show, making entertainment? It takes a great idea. It takes wonderful people to bring that great idea to life, a wonderful bunch of actors who can interpret the script and then add who they are to the script and bring that to life, that has not changed.”

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