On The Good Place, William Jackson Harper plays Chidi Anagonye, who was once a philosophy professor on Earth before he died from an accident involving an air conditioner unit. If that sentence already sounds strange to you, you’ve probably never watched The Good Place because it gets a lot stranger from there. Of course, Harper wouldn’t have known that when he read for his part in the series because much of the twisting narrative of The Good Place developed over its first season (and has continued in subsequent seasons).
In an interview with Texas Monthly, Harper speaks about the casting process for the series and how what he read for didn’t end up being part of the series or about his character.
Harper admits that when he was being cast in The Good Place that he had very little knowledge regarding what the show was going to be about. However, that didn’t hurt him during his audition — in fact, his audition was not an excerpt from one of the show’s scripts. He explains:
In the script that they gave in the audition, I was reading as a lawyer with the Innocence Project working with a woman named Eleanor, who was at this conference with me. Throughout the course of the scenes we find out that she’s actually not working with the Innocence Project, and she just wanted to hang out with me for a little bit. She didn’t want to tell me that she wasn’t actually working with them. I was like, ‘I have no idea what how this show works, but OK.’ I just sort of went with it. And then after I got the part creator Mike Schur called me and said, ‘That part you read, that is not the show. When you come into the office that will tell you exactly who you’re playing and what the premise of the show is.’ I went to the office and they told me. I thought, ‘Oh. Whoa. Okay. That is not at all what I was expecting.'”