How The Good Place’s D’Arcy Carden turned Janet


It entails a hotline for damaged dolls.

Certainly one of my favourite issues about one in all my favourite reveals — NBC’s daffily sensible afterlife-set sitcom The Good Place — is that when actors auditioned for the sequence, they weren’t informed who their characters had been.

As a substitute, creator Mike Schur (beforehand of The Workplace and Parks and Recreation and Saturday Evening Dwell, and many others.) got here up with seemingly regular characters who possessed among the identical qualities because the characters on the present, then wrote quick sketches about them for the actors to carry out as their audition.

The actors would come into the casting session, carry out as characters who had been nearly however not fairly the characters on The Good Place, after which hopefully e book the job based mostly on that.

So when D’Arcy Carden, who performs the metaphysical laptop/robotic/angel/demon/factor Janet on the sequence, joined me for the latest episode of my podcast, I Think You’re Interesting, I wished to ask her about her expertise with The Good Place’s audition course of — and whether or not her lengthy expertise working in sketch comedy within the decade earlier than she broke by with The Good Place helped her put together for that audition.

Carden is one in all my favourite performers on TV (along with The Good Place, she performs a smaller half on HBO’s wonderful hit-man comedy Barry), and I like the best way she’s turned Janet into an out-and-out weirdo with out sacrificing any of the character’s coronary heart. That made her story of the audition course of all of the extra attention-grabbing, and a range from our dialog, flippantly edited for size and readability, follows.

Todd VanDerWerff

One of many issues that’s a part of Good Place lore is that when Mike [Schur] was first doing the present, he wrote character breakdowns that had nothing to do with the characters as a result of for some cause, the inventive staff was attempting to maintain the premise of the present a secret. After which when NBC picked up the present, the community simply instantly stated what it was about, in order that was all for naught. However do you bear in mind what the breakdown was for who turned Janet?

D’Arcy Carden

My audition? It was a useful girl. I’m certain it stated one thing alongside the traces of “a sort, useful girl” who labored at a hotline for damaged dolls. So you’d name this girl and let her know, “My doll’s eye fell off,” after which she would give you all these problem-solving options. They had been insane however alternative ways to repair the issue.

One was like, “My doll’s eye fell off,” after which one was one thing extra drastic, after which the final one was, I believe, her husband known as, and their home was on hearth or one thing like that. It was principally the identical tone of, “Properly, right here’s how we are able to repair that.” But it surely didn’t say something about robotic something. It didn’t say something concerning the afterlife. It simply was useful, nice girl.

And what ended up being Janet in season one, particularly the primary few episodes, was just about precisely what the audition was. It simply was like, “How can I assist?!”

NBC’s ‘The Good Place’ FYC Screening And Q&A
Leon Bennett/Getty Photos
D’Arcy Carden seems at an Emmy FYC screening of The Good Place.

Todd VanDerWerff

In all probability your background helped with that, as a result of that’s principally a comedic sketch. That’s one thing Lily Tomlin might need achieved on Snicker-In. So inform me about approaching that audition.

D’Arcy Carden

It’s a humorous one, as a result of I’m such an enormous Mike Schur fan. I had by no means met him earlier than. Additionally, Drew Goddard, one other superb writer-director-producer [who directed The Good Place’s pilot], I knew he was going to be within the audition. So principally it was two those who I used to be an enormous fan of, [and] I knew this function couldn’t be mine, for I used to be a lowly nobody.

However I additionally was like, “This’ll be an incredible alternative for me to point out these guys what I bought, or make them snigger. I’m going to make an impression in order that in season 4 of this present that they’re making, they’ll forged me as, like, the lunch woman.”

So I did put a number of work into the audition. And auditions are insane and silly and horrible and bizarre and make no sense. Generally you join with a personality, and typically you don’t, and also you simply should make it work. This was a personality the place, like, “Ooh, I completely know who this particular person is!” And it nearly felt straightforward. Like I stated, a number of occasions that isn’t the case. Generally you’re actually struggling to simply, like, fake-act, which is simply the grossest feeling on earth, however this one simply felt nearly straightforward.

The primary audition was so enjoyable and nice, and Mike and Drew had been so nice, and so was Allison Jones, the casting director. It was such an incredible, straightforward, snug, enjoyable room that after I left the room, nearly my head was spinning like, “I do know I didn’t get it, however rattling, that felt so good.” After which I bought a callback, and it was a really related vibe within the room — straightforward to speak to the individuals within the room.

I saved having these experiences with these auditions, the place it was like, “There’s no manner I’m getting this. I do know that. That’s not occurring. However that felt nice.” And it simply saved going like that till I lastly bought this 11 pm telephone name after ready for a month to listen to about it, whereas I used to be watching Fargo season two, which suggests I used to be watching Ted Danson and falling extra in love with him with each episode.

Todd VanDerWerff

There’s an influence in pondering you’re not going to get it.

D’Arcy Carden

I believe so too. It’s, like, confidence, a bizarre kind of messed-up confidence, since you’re a bit bit like, “I’ve nothing to lose,” and a bit bit like there’s no desperation. And I believe desperation is a complete audition killer. However actors, we’re determined for jobs.

In order that’s what I imply by auditions are simply cuckoo. You go in and also you do it one time, and in no appearing scenario is that [normal]. If you happen to’re in a play, you’re rehearsing for months. If you happen to’re on set, you’re doing take after take. I’m not suggesting there’s a greater solution to do it, actually. Another manner can be so time-consuming, however auditions simply really feel kooky.

For far more with Carden, together with her ideas on how you can play a non-human character (and different actors she thinks have achieved an incredible job at precisely that), hearken to the full episode, which additionally features a dialogue with one other of my favourite TV scene stealers, Natasha Rothwell, who performs Kelli on HBO’s Insecure.

To listen to interviews with extra fascinating individuals from the world of arts and tradition — from highly effective showrunners to internet sequence creators to documentary filmmakers — check out the I Think You’re Interesting archives.

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