William Jackson Harper Interview: ‘The Good Place’
William Jackson Harper just received his first Emmy nomination for his performance as Chidi Anagonye on NBC’s “The Good Place.” It is admittedly a bittersweet moment for the actor, who had to say goodbye to “The Good Place” when it concluded its final season earlier this year. “Before this opportunity came to me, I was thinking about giving it up, and just being reassured that good things can happen and that you can have dreams come true, that’s what this whole experience has been for me,” says Harper in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “So I think just living in that place of having a huge lifelong wish being fulfilled and having that go away, I’m gonna miss that.” Watch the video interview above.
Harper is submitting the series finale, “Whenever You’re Ready,” to Emmy voters. The emotional episode features Chidi and his friends having reached the real Good Place and feeling comfortable with ending their existence. Harper got to be a part of his co-stars’ exits, all of them wrapping at different points due to the structure of the episode. “Going through those very real goodbyes with my castmates really informed a lot of the emotion of that episode for all of us,” explains Harper. “It was especially poignant for me because this show has been such a turning point for my life in general so to end this chapter is really, really bittersweet.”
A big moment for Harper in the finale involves Chidi trying to make Eleanor (Kristen Bell) feel better about his impending departure, delivering a profound monologue about a wave in the ocean. Harper accessed his own feelings on death to find his way into Chidi’s headspace. “I’ve actually dealt with death quite a bit in my life and there is a way that I process it that felt very close to what we did,” says the actor. “I do think there’s something to the thinking about life as something that is fleeting. We’re here for a very short amount of time by any standards.”
Looking back on “The Good Place,” Harper will miss Chidi and all his idiosyncrasies. “Having a mouthpiece for all of my anxieties is really nice,” he states. “This is a moment that kept me on the path for my life in a lot of ways. Being on ‘The Good Place’ and working with such good people on material I really believed in and really enjoyed, this is one of those things that gave me a little more time in this industry.”