‘The Good Place’: D’Arcy Carden Had the Most Unusual Audition
For most of the cast of The Good Place, their audition process for the show was pretty unconventional. Though Ted Danson and Kristen Bell knew the premise of the show and what it would grow to become, other cast members were intentionally kept in the dark. In fact, they weren’t even given the real scripts from the show. Instead, they were given vague knowledge about their characters without knowing exactly what the The Good Place was even about.
For D’Arcy Carden (who was cast perfectly in The Good Place as Janet) a vital piece of information about her role was left out altogether. In the series, Carden plays an all-knowing database in the form of a human woman. Though she constantly reiterates that she’s “not a robot”, that’s the closest approximation of her character. But, Carden wasn’t even told that she wasn’t actually playing a human for the part. Instead, she was asked to play the role of a helpful woman on a hotline.
D’Arcy Carden reflects on her audition for ‘The Good Place’
“There was no indication that [Janet] was AI or robotic or anything at all. It was a helpful woman who was the operator on a health line. The scene was that somebody was calling her and saying, ‘My doll is broken. So I’m calling a broken doll hotline and you have to tell me how to fix my doll.’ And she was just, like, giving people good advice: ‘Oh, the eye fell off on your doll? Well, find a button and sew it on.’ An unflappable help operator, I guess, is the way I would explain it,” Carden revealed about her unique audition of The Good Place in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Carden confessed that she thought it was brilliant that Mike Schur (creator of The Good Place) kept Janet’s true identity a secret. Because the actors had no idea that they were playing a “non-robot” they were able to give more realistic and human portrayals of Janet. “And I think it was very smart of them not to include anything that indicated that she was Siri-like, or else whoever auditioned might have played it a little more [robot voice] ‘I am Janet,’ which obviously they didn’t want,” the actor shared.
‘The Good Place’ cast had no idea what they were really auditioning for
Another thing that threw Carden for a loop in her audition for The Good Place was the wide array of actors that tried out for the part. Typically when projects are cast, a “breakdown” of a character is included. This breakdown consists of general physical characteristics, age range, gender, and personality traits. Because breakdowns are generally specific to a certain race, gender, and/or body type, it’s rare to see a wide array of actors from all walks of life compete for the same role. But, Carden was shocked to see that the other actors looked absolutely nothing like her.
“The person who auditioned before me was like a 15-year-old boy, and the woman who auditioned after me was like in her sixties. So walking into that audition, I was like, ‘Oh, boy, I don’t know what this is,'” Carden confessed. But, not knowing actually helped in Carden’s favor. Because she had no clue what the casting directors were looking for (and thought she had no chance at the role) she was able to throw caution to the wind a deliver stellar performances. This, of course, led to her joining the official cast of The Good Place. Though hundreds of actors tried out for the role, we can’t imagine anyone but Carden playing Janet.