Stephen Root has over 250 acting credits, including smug station owner Jimmy James in "NewsRadio," stapler-obsessed Milton in "Office Space" and characters in four Coen brothers' movies. But he didn't earn his first Emmy nomination until he snagged the part of assassin handler Monroe Fuches in "Barry," which returns for its third season at 9 p.m. Sunday on HBO.

In a Zoom interview recently, Root, 70, spoke about his most famous roles and what he hopes for next.

Q: You've played the smartest guy in the room and the slowest guy in the room. Where does Fuches rank on that scale?
A: Fuches is smart enough to manipulate the people around him. What he can't seem to do is manipulate Barry. In Season 3, he's kind of reached his limit. His revenge becomes a lot crueler than what we've seen before.

Q: I first became a fan of yours watching "NewsRadio." And then I saw "Office Space," which was a complete 180. Do you purposely choose roles that are completely different?
A: It's very much a conscious thing. I did so much sitcom work in the '90s that I wasn't getting offers to do anything else. So I sat around for a while, waiting for dramatic stuff. I did some "CSIs" and then I got "West Wing." That really helped changed the perception.

Q: It's getting harder to distinguish comedy from dramas on TV. Maybe we should just stop separating them.
A: I think so. Let's just call it what it is: good writing. Although that's not true in terrestrial TV. We had some good network sitcoms in the '90s. They're worse now. Think of all the thousands of medical shows and police shows. They're pretty much all the same. I wish terrestrial TV would take more chances.

Q: You've become a familiar face in Coen brothers movies. Why do you think they keep calling on you?
A: One of my strong suits as a character actor is a "bent" approach to the work. That's kind of a natural mesh with them. I think it's fun for them to have New York theater types like me and John Goodman who can adapt quickly.

Q: How is being directed by Bill Hader on "Barry" different from working with the Coens?
A: It's different. It was harder for me the first two seasons to get used to doing the improv stuff he throws at you. But I've gotten better at it now.

Q: Are you recognized more these days for "Barry" than your past roles?
A: It's always Milton, except for a certain generation that has a love for "Dodgeball." "Office Space" was a flop, but it came on home video just as Blockbuster was getting huge and the word of mouth was really good. It's a movie that keeps being discovered by a new wave of computer geeks every five years. It was "The Office" before "The Office."

Q: Any roles you haven't tackled yet that are on your wish list?
A: Like every character actor, I'd love to be a lead in a film. I'd like to have my chance to do that.