D’Arcy Carden on the Complicated Audition Process for ‘The Good Place’

Actress D'Arcy Carden

“I’d never done an audition like this before. For one, we didn’t get a script. And two, the sides were fake. ” – D’Arcy Carden

These days actors have to be prepared to adapt to all kinds of outside-the-box roles. For example, actress D’Arcy Carden performances on the series The Good Place as an artificial intelligence personal assistant — like an android version of Siri or Alexa. Speaking with Vulture, Carden reveals how those forms of A.I. have influenced her performance and reveals the complex audition process for the unique role.

Carden explains that while she has listened to other A.I. assistants as a reference, there’s a specific balance that she reaches for. “The hard thing is you don’t want Janet to sound like a robot in that stilted way that robots talk. I didn’t want it to sound anything like that, but there is something vaguely human about the way they talk that’s inspired, especially Alexa. I heard her voice for the first time at a party right when I was about to start doing Janet, and I was like, Ooh. I like that. I like the way she sounds. She’s very positive and warm. Ooh! Janet!”

Not surprisingly, auditioning to perform as an A.I. voice was a unique audition — particularly for a show that had a very surprising twist at the end of the first season that wasn’t revealed to the cast initially. Carden explains the long process:

I’d never done an audition like this before. For one, we didn’t get a script. And two, the sides were fake. So occasionally you’ll audition for something and they won’t send you the whole script because it’s top secret or it’s not done yet, but this one, there was no script to be read. You couldn’t find it anywhere. No agents, no managers, nobody had it. And the sides were: I was playing an operator at a hotline for broken dolls. So the scene was basically me answering a bunch of different calls where different people would have a problem with the doll they bought — the eye would pop off or the hair was coming out — and I would just have a very easy solution. So it makes perfect sense: It is a very Janet-esque character, but there was no indication that she was not a human. There was no robot element to it at all, not in the character description or anything. So I just got this impression that she was a helpful, positive woman and that felt really fun and easy to play.

After the first audition, it was more of the same. The final test was that scene and another scene. It was literally two full pages of dialogue. There was another person in the scene that asked one question at the top, and then two pages of a monologue, where I was giving the person directions to the bathroom in a high school. It was things like, “Turn left at the second door.” But then it was also things like, “You’re going to pass the officer of the janitor and the janitor is in a fight with this teacher.” It felt like you could read it as gossip, but she wasn’t judging anybody, she was just stating facts.

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