William Jackson Harper opened up about what it’s like playing a character in the afterlife in the new NBC series “The Good Place.”
Harper plays Chidi in the sitcom created by Michael Schur, who also co-created NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and FOX’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Chidi was an ethics and moral philosophy professor before entering afterlife’s the Good Place. Although he was introduced as Eleanor’s (Kristen Bell) soulmate in the series premiere, the two are technically not soulmates, as Bell’s character isn’t supposed to be in the Good Place.
In an interview with Eurweb.com, Harper said that taking on his character’s nerdy persona is easy for him. “I don’t have to go far to get the nerd,” the 36-year-old actor said. “Those glasses are actually the glasses that I wear in real life. I’m a huge nerd. So I don’t have to go too far to get that guy.”
Harper, however, admitted that occupying the headspace of a dead guy is a challenge.
“What’s most important is what’s happening in the room with me and Eleanor and whatever situation we’re in dealing with,” Harper explained. “And so, getting too hung up on the fact that it’s the afterlife…. that’s just the world that we’re in. So to play it is a little bit difficult. It’s really not a whole lot that you can do with it outside of letting the circumstances sort of remind you of that reality.”
Good thing Harper has talented co-stars whom he looks up to when it comes to acting. “I learned a ton from them,” he told EBONY.com of his cast members Bell and Ted Danson, who plays Michael on the series. “They’re so alive and smart and they have such an innate understanding of comedy.”
“They really understand the medium in a way that I don’t,” added Harper. “So I’m literally watching them all the time on set and trying to just take lessons. Take lessons and use some of their skills and apply them.”
“Eleanor faces her toughest test yet in her attempt to remain in hiding. Meanwhile, Michael enlists Tahani (Jameela Jamil) to help a fellow neighbor fulfill her true purpose.”