Reporting Live From Inside 'The Good Place,' Where Laughter, Ethics And A Mouth Full Of Corn Syrup Is Completely Normal
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Reporting Live From Inside 'The Good Place,' Where Laughter, Ethics And A Mouth Full Of Corn Syrup Is Completely Normal

Dear The Good Place Fans, fret not, there is San Diego Comic-Con coverage for you, as well. With the announcement that season 3 will premiere this fall, The Good Place cast and crew took over San Diego Comic-Con not just with a panel, but also a wonderfully unique activation that allowed Shadow and Act to explore and enjoy “The Good Place” for ourselves.

Every great fandom has an origin story, so what about The Good Place? How did creator Michael Schur pitch this deliciously fun and over-the-top show to NBC? “From the beginning, the pitch was a little bit heavy. It’s about ethics and what it means to be a good person, so it’s a bit heavy. When I pitched it to NBC, I said one of the characters is a moral philosophy professor, and he is going to teach lessons on ethics. They were a bit sweaty. I reassured them, don’t worry, I won’t make it feel like school.”

So how does Michael feel about all the ethics he puts in the show? “Often times, Eleanor’s reaction to ethics, is often times my reaction to ethics. Like ugh, why is this so hard? So, we try to balance it with as many jokes as possible.”

And how did Michael get stars Kristen Bell (Eleanor Shellstrop) and Ted Danson (Michael) to sign up? It turns out when the show was pitched, a big selling point was working with each other again. According to Kristen, “Ted and I met on a movie about seven or eight years ago and became fast friends. Despite the fact that I super-fanned him when I met him because I had just binge-watched the first season of Damages, and I was obsessed with his character. So, basically hearing Ted was involved sealed my deal.”

Viewers will know the show throws more than its fair share of not so subtle shade at Florida. But why? Manny Jacinto (Jason) insists that he didn’t have strong feelings about the state before taking this role. “I had no idea about Florida, to be honest, but it just coincided with how crazy the character was and how crazy the state is I guess.”

So, what is one thing about or a prop from “The Good Place” or “The Bad Place” that the cast wishes they had in real life? “If I had a prop to take home, there’s this really great deconstructed clown in a case called ‘Patches Apart,’ and I think I would take it home and put it in front of people’s houses in the night,” said William Jackson Harper, who plays ethics professor Chidi.

How does Emmy-nominated Ted Danson feel about his riveting performances as Michael? “When you say performance, I say “what?” because really what we do is we show up and say these astounding words in these astounding locations, with these bow ties, and you let the words play on you, and out comes a performance. I don’t know how to take credit for this show. I hit my marks, say these words, and it is like magic.” If you think he’s being modest, he is. “Sorry, this is like Emmy’s time, and you have to adopt some false humility or else it rubs everybody wrong.” We’d expect nothing less from Ted or anyone in this cast.

We learned a few fun facts about the cast, too. “Manny is my seventh kiss ever in the world. No one kissed me in real life until I was like 21. So, Manny is my first one onscreen. And even though he was contractually obligated to kiss me on camera, I still count it,” quipped Jameela Jamil aka Tahani.

According to Marc Evan Jackson (Shawn), some hazards are working with the show’s outlandish props and materials. “In one take, Will got shot in the face with a lot of blood and guts during ‘The Trolley Problem’ scene.” Will elaborated, “Yeah it was Rice Krispies, foam and Karo syrup. I had a lot of “blood” on my teeth because my mouth was wide open. A piece of foam went directly down my esophagus and into my being. And so, yeah, that was a special day.”

With all this stuff going on, we had to ask: how does The Good Place continue to work? Michael said it is largely in part to his producer and the production team. “The reason that this show works and is allowed to be as ambitious as it is, and we are allowed to do the stories and the insane things we do–like have giraffes running around and giant shrimp in the air, is because of Morgan (line producer) and a whole host of other incredible people that Morgan has brought on board.” Maybe that’s why fans of all ages are engaged. Marc Evan Jackson credits this win to something very simple: “This show allows people to learn ethics as a family.”

Before things closed, we had one last question: Regular Janet or Bad Janet? Actress D’Arcy Carden said, “Both. The answer is both. I get to play both, so I don’t have to make the decision.” Well, I will be the first to say Bad Janet is my favorite!

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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