Emmy-nominated William Jackson Harper, best known for playing neuro-philosophy professor Chidi in “The Good Place,” plays a newly divorced man in the second season of “Love Life” in HBO Max.
“I wanted to play some things a bit closer to who I am in life,” Harper, 41, told The Post. “I feel often called upon to be a little more fervent, brighter, and ‘higher’ than I really am. In a lot of ways, [my ‘Love Life’ character] Marcus’ character is closer to the way I move through the world than anything else I’ve done.”
But he noted that the show presented a new challenge of getting him “undressed every other episode.”
Premiering Thursday (October 28), this season’s series Love Life follows Marcus, a successful book editor who finds himself at a crossroads in life and love after the collapse of his marriage.
Season one followed Darby (Anna Kendrick), a juvenile in his twenties who stumbles through dating and business adventures in New York. Season two overlaps slightly (Marcus attends Darby’s wedding in the first episode), but otherwise his story is fresh. After he meets Mia (Jessica Williams) at Darby’s wedding, Marcus begins to realize that his marriage to Emily (Maya Kazan) is old.
“After watching the first season, I really felt [the show] It wasn’t just “dating is hard.” It was more of a personal study of someone trying to figure out how to be a person, looking at them through the lens of dating and relationships,” Harper said. “But that’s not all and the end of it all; It’s a larger personal study of what it was like to be a person in your twenties in New York, trying to figure out your life.”
Harper said Marcus is about a decade older than Darby, but that made his struggle all the more engaging.
“The thing that fascinated me about playing Marcus is that this guy thought he figured it out, and he didn’t do it very often,” he said. “It’s interesting to show someone who has this weird kind of identity crisis… to be a grown man — not out of college, but an adult who’s been around for a while — and still making big mistakes. I honestly felt so bad about not understanding certain things” .
Although “Love Life” shares some similarities with “The Good Place” diving into the rom-com, Harper said that was not his goal.
“I don’t think much about genre when I think about projects. It’s, ‘Is the character interesting, is the story going to lead to something weird or unexpected?’ That’s what I tend to like so much more. A genre can be anything, as long as it does Something that I feel is a bit unexpected.”
As for Chidi, he’s living in the infamous pop culture while “The Good Place,” which ended last year, has a life of continuous streaming (and is currently on Netflix). He said that fans don’t deal with Harper about it “everyday,” but that “it happens every now and then. In New York, people don’t care, they’re just like, ‘Oh, there’s that guy from that thing!’ and that’s enough. But. [sometimes], people approach me and say they were really impressed with the show. And that’s always really cool. “