My South: Actor Brian Tyree Henry on Helen, Georgia

The star of FX’s Atlanta shares why he loves the alpine village—and where to find his favorite socks


Illustration by Colleen O'Hara

As told to Mara Reinstein

During the second season of Atlanta, we did an episode called “Helen” that involved two characters played by Donald Glover and Zazie Beetz going to this German-themed place called Helen. I wasn’t there for the shoot, but I remember thinking that we must have built a set for the episode. Then, as we were wrapping season four in the summer of 2021, I decided to put “Helen” in my GPS and take the journey from Atlanta. You drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains and then you come to this rustic little town built to look just like Germany. I was in absolute awe! It’s like this place shouldn’t exist! I’ve been there about five times now, and I think of it as this hidden oasis. Everyone there is so chill and delightful with that Southern hospitality. I’ve literally had people tip their hat at me. I walk down these alleyways and go into little shops like the Sock Shoppe, where I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on socks. There’s this restaurant called Hofbrauhaus, which is right next to the Chattahoochee River. You’re eating potatoes and sausage right on the water. The Old Bavaria Inn serves all kinds of bratwurst and rice and beans. So does Two Tire Tavern. I have a little fudge addiction, so I go into Kopper Kettle Fudge. Or you can get a candy apple at Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen and walk around the streets like you’re at a fair. I went in the fall because the leaves were changing colors and I wanted to go zip-lining through them. It was incredibly beautiful. That’s also the time of Oktoberfest, and it feels like you’re drinking beer right in Germany. I’ve gone rafting there, and you can do putt-putt golf. I’ve sent so many photos to Donald and everyone at the show and they’re always confused, like, “Why are you there?” But man, I really love it because I can just turn my brain off and be myself. I get them all socks.

Emmy and Tony-nominated actor Brian Tyree Henry currently stars in the big-screen drama Causeway with Jennifer Lawrence. 

This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2022 issue of Southbound.