William Jackson Harper of ‘The Good Place’ bids farewell and hello to new roles

William Jackson Harper The Good Place
William Jackson Harper (Photo Credit: Sela Shiloni)

William Jackson Harper made an immediate impression when “The Good Place” first premiered. Since that time his character Chidi has evolved into a leading man and a sex symbol, in addition to the voice of reason.

When season four comes to a close, its the end of the line for Chidi, but not for Harper. Following his successful run, and an appearance in Midsommar, Harper will appear in the Amazon series, “The Underground Railroad.”

Rolling out caught up with Harper during NBC media day, to reflect on Chidi’s evolution, “The Underground Railroad” and his ideal role.

Glancing at Twitter before we sat down, most of the tweets are about Chidi and his abs. When did Chidi become a sex symbol? Did you anticipate that happening?

Absolutely not, that’s not usually my role or place anywhere, you know? So when it happened, it’s really strange. I still haven’t really wrapped my mind around it.

“The Good Place” ends it’s run at the end of the season. Is this a sad time for you?

I am sad. I love working with this specific group of people so much and the material is good. It’s ahead of me all the time and it feels like we as a cast take the same ride that the audience takes.

It doesn’t hit you over the head with the lesson. It’s not preaching and it just strikes so many chords of what I find to be like good storytelling. So yeah, I am sad to say goodbye to it.

When one door closes another opens. What can you tell me about your next project on Amazon TV?

I’m finishing up “The Underground Railroad.” It’s a limited series based on the book by Colson Whitehead. I feel like it dialogues so well with where we’re at as a society. It is really unflinching in its portrayal of not only the physical brutality but the psychological brutality of slavery and it’s just great to play a character that is nothing like Chidi.

With those two very different roles under your belt, what does that ideal role look like for you?

I’m a relatively non-threatening person. So something that will put me outside of that … where I just had to embody something very different that I’m just not used to doing in my life at all.

The final four episodes of “The Good Place” air on Thursdays 8:30/7:30c.





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