Paul Walter Hauser Gets Frank About the Challenges of ‘Black Bird,’ Getting Sober and Why He Thought He Peaked with ‘Richard Jewell’

Paul Walter Hauser has made hamburgers the latest red carpet accessory.

The actor has found himself making the rounds lately thanks to his stunning turn as serial killer Larry Hall in Apple TV Plus’ limited series “Black Bird,” a role that has already netted him a SAG Award nomination and wins from the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards. After Jamie Lee Curtis asked him to bring her a burger to the next event, Hauser showed up at the Critics Choice Awards with a patty – only to learn Curtis couldn’t attend due to COVID. He later proposed to her with a smashburger at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards and brought 20 burgers to the SAG Awards, where he handed them out to the likes of Adam Sandler. When Hauser’s name was called amongst the nominees in his category, he perfectly timed a blissful bite on camera.

So when Hauser joined us as a guest on this week’s episode of the Variety Awards Circuit podcast, we wanted to get his opinion on one of our favorite hamburgers in town, from the Corner Deli – which is located inside a gas station next to our offices. Listen below for his full review.

You’ll also hear the actor talk frankly about the challenges of shooting “Black Bird,” in which he stars opposite Taron Egerton as James Keane, a man offered a commuted sentence if he can extract a confession out of Hall. Dennis Lehane, known for his bestselling mysteries, adapted Keene’s autobiographical novel “In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption” for the six-part series.

Hauser gets brutally honest about what he considers some of his more challenging moments. The actor starred in Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” in 2019, and worried he might have peaked. “After ‘Richard Jewell,’ I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s all downhill from here,’” he admits. “The movie didn’t make any money, you failed the system and didn’t make your money back and that’s it for you.”

But right after that, Hauser notes, “Black Bird” came his way. “The joke’s on me – the real lesson to be learned is you never peak. You’re always capable of more or capable of happier. Sometimes ‘happier’ isn’t ‘more’ – they’re not synonyms for one another.”

Which is not to say “Black Bird” didn’t present its own challenges. Hauser admits, “I was in a dark place when I was making ‘Black Bird.” The actor discusses his issues with addiction and how it affected him and his marriage. Things culminated in “one scary moment where I was in a bit of a rage and broke my laptop and I had been drinking and I left the house and didn’t tell my assistant where I was going.”

Fortunately, Hauser says he realized he needed to get sober and also seek treatment for his depression and anxiety. It was only as he began to improve that he also started to realize how concerned others had been. “Dennis and a few people from production pulled me aside at different points and they were like, ‘Hey, it’s so good to see you doing well,’” he notes. “And I’m like, ‘Was I doing that bad in your eyes?’ And they were kind of like tiptoeing, not wanting to offend me. But they were like, ‘You treated us well, but I’m not sure you treated yourself well.’”

Today, the actor is doing well – he and his wife recently welcomed a second son and his career is thriving. He’ll been seen in Season 2 of Apple TV+’s “The Afterparty,” hitting the streamer in July. In addition, his new film, “Americana,” in which he stars opposite Sidney Sweeney, just played the SXSW Film Festival and he recently shot “The Instigators” with Casey Affleck and Matt Damon. And could his fan favorite character Stingray return for the final season of “Cobra Kai”? Hauser says they haven’t reached out yet, but he’d always be open to it. “I love those guys,” he says.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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