After chronicling Darby’s (executive producer Anna Kendrick) romantic trials and tribulations in Season 1, the rom-com anthology makes way for Marcus’ own love stories. While we won’t spoil any of the surprises that are ahead for viewers streaming on HBO Max beginning October 28, The Good Place alum is opening up about his role which was crafted for him, the relationships he’ll encounter this season, what it was like to serve as an executive producer, and much more.
The showrunners revealed that Marcus Watkins was a character created with you in mind. What was it like getting to have a role tailored to you?
William Jackson Harper: It was pretty dope [Laughs]. Getting to be an executive producer on it, and getting to ask some questions and tweak certain things about the character to have it set in a different place for me that feels a little bit more truthful, was wonderful. It’s nice to be able to get a lead time on what is required of the character, rather than just getting it on set. It was fabulous. I had a great time.
What should people know about Marcus as a character heading into the season?
Marcus is a guy that has an idea of what he’s supposed to be and an idea of what his life is supposed to look like. I think that for the longest time, that trumped what he actually wanted. And he’s having to reconsider who he is at a stage where he feels like he should have already kind of figured that out.
I know that when I was in my twenties, I felt like by my thirties, I should be confident and know exactly what I’m doing. And I definitely didn’t feel that way when I got to my thirties. When I was a kid, I would watch adults. And I was like, “Okay, they know what they’re doing,” not realizing that they were just making messes all over the place, and I just didn’t see it.
Marcus is very much in that place, where he’s sort of having to reconfigure his life, reconsider what he actually wants, who he actually is, and judging that a little bit, because he feels like he should know that already. And so, it leads to a lot of misunderstandings and messes.
One of the main relationships that Marcus has in the series is with Jessica Williams‘ Mia. What can you tease about her role in the story?
She’s this really cool, very attractive, very smart, funny magnetic presence for him as played by Jessica Williams, who’s fantastic. She’s one of those people that you just lean into, no matter what she’s saying because she’s in the room. And I think that a lot of the magic of Mia is really just Jess. There’s something about having a person that you’re chasing without chasing.
The last thing you want to do is actually put yourself out there, to have it be confirmed that you can’t actually have that person. I think that’s what Mia is for Marcus in a lot of ways. She’s this person that he regards very highly.
Marcus has a lot of other important non-romantic relationships in his life. What can you share about his friendships this season?
I love the idea of the male best friend in the rom-com genre being someone that is a little bit more settled. [With Chris “Comedian CP” Powell who] plays Yogi, you have a guy who is a family man, but has got a real edge to him. He’s able to have the hard conversations with Marcus and sort of correct him. The conversations feel very matter-of-fact, in a way that some of the conversations I have with my friends feel.
And with Kian (Arian Moayed), this is a guy who is in a brand new space, and he’s changed over the course of our relationship. And these three guys being together, it’s a dynamic I don’t see a lot. They aren’t stock characters. They feel very much like life, and there’s something more grounded and real about all of that.
Love Life, Season 2 Premiere, Thursday, October 28, HBO Max