‘The Good Place’: William Jackson Harper Was ‘Completely in the Dark About Everything’ in Season 1

NBC’s The Good Place is a feel-good fantasy sitcom that hooked viewers for four seasons. Fresh off the show’s ending earlier this year, cast member, William Jackson Harper, reflected on his experience on the show, including his unawareness surrounding the plot. [Spoiler warning: The following article contains details about The Good Place Seasons 1 through 4.]

William Jackson Harper in 'The Good Place'
William Jackson Harper in ‘The Good Place’ | Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

William Jackson Harper had no idea what show he was auditioning for

The Good Place revolves around four individuals navigating the afterlife and pondering good, evil, reward, and punishment. A few immortal beings mix it up with the humans and ramp up the drama and the humor woven into the show. Harper admitted in an interview with Deadline that he had no idea what he was in for when he auditioned for The Good Place.

“When I got the audition, and I didn’t know what the show was,” said Harper, “I had dummy scripts with dummy audition material. I thought I was auditioning for a lawyer working for the Innocence Project.”

‘The Good Place’ Season 1 launched with a witty premise

In the pilot, the viewing audience initially meets Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, shortly after her death. She awakens in the afterlife and is greeted by Michael (Ted Danson), the Architect of her otherworldly neighborhood and Janet (D’Arcy Carden), an all-knowing humanoid who is definitely “not a robot” and “not a girl.” Michael breaks the news that Eleanor has kicked the bucket but softens the blow when he reveals that she is in The Good Place.

Eleanor starts to become acquainted with her neighbors, including her soulmate, Chidi Anagonye, a former ethics professor. She also meets the other central characters, socialite Tahani Al-Jamil and devoutly silent monk Jason Mendoza, portrayed by Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto.

It doesn’t take long for Eleanor to realize that after a life of selfish behavior and questionable choices, she has somehow arrived in The Good Place by mistake. What’s more, her mere presence is throwing the entire place out of whack.

Harper didn’t see the twist coming in ‘The Good Place’ Season 1


‘The Good Place’: Ted Danson Was Terrible at Keeping the Shocking Twist Under Wraps

As the story unfolds in The Good Place Season 1, Eleanor finds that she isn’t the only resident in her neighborhood that belongs in The Bad Place. But it turns out that the predicament, which seems like a simple clerical error, is no accident.

At the end of the first season, Michael reveals the dark truth. The four friends, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason, are in fact, in The Bad Place. And Michael is the demon tasked with torturing them for eternity. Harper admitted that initially, he was none the wiser about the big twist in the finale.

Harper told Deadline, “In the middle of the first season, the creators brought us all in and said, ‘Okay, you’re actually not in The Good Place, you’re in The Bad Place.’ It was like, ‘Hey, I’m completely in the dark about everything, it’s consistent with the character, so it’s fine.’ But I was relieved when I found out that the world that we were in was not what it seemed. Just because I wondered how long we could do this particular thing, people being in a paradise, just getting a little wacky sometimes. I just wondered how far we can run that. And once he [creator, Michael Schur] explained to us that we were actually in The Bad Place, and it was going to take a bunch of weird twists and turns going forward, then I was all in, I was just like, this is great. And then they wrote some beautiful, brilliant, hilarious scripts.”

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