NEW YORK -- His new project may be as the lead in HBO Max's “ Love Life,” but William Jackson Harper will be the first to tell you he doesn't usually seek out relationship stories.
“Rom-coms are not the thing that I gravitate to,” said the actor. “I like a lot of lasers and monsters and stuff like that.”
After watching the first season starring Anna Kendrick, Harper was drawn to the complete story arc of a person navigating their career, self-identity and yes, their love life.
“The show is really just about a person figuring out who they are,” he said.
In season two, debuting Oct. 28, Harper plays Marcus, whose comfortable marriage abruptly ends and he is forced to rebuild. He suddenly has his nights and weekends free and really no clue what to do next. There are many missteps and uncomfortable moments along the way. He hosts an impromptu awkward night of drinking and dancing for coworkers at the office and goes home with a college student to her dorm room. All the while Marcus pines for Mia — played by Jessica Williams —- who seems to challenge and intrigue him like no one else, but their timing is never right.
“He grows a lot over the course of the season, and I found that really interesting," said Harper, who is also an executive producer of the second season. "I think that it’s really important to see that. At an age I think where we’re sort of told that we should have things figured out, a lot of us just don’t. We’re still growing and still changing. I really love that."
Viewers will quickly learn in season two how Marcus is connected to Kendrick's Darby. Harper says he and his co-stars would try to guess who in his character's world could lead a potential season three.
“I'm sure they're brainstorming now and I'm really curious where they go next,” he said. Like Kendrick in season two, Harper would be game to pop up in a third season.
Best-known for his Emmy-nominated role on NBC's “ The Good Place ” opposite Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, the 41-year-old tries to choose projects that challenge him. Before “Love Life,” he was in Barry Jenkins' “ The Underground Railroad ” for Amazon.
“Every job that is presented to me — I sort of take into consideration, ‘Is this something I’ve done before or is this something wildly different from the last thing I did?’ I’m always going to lean more towards the thing that is totally different,” explained Harper, 41. "That’s the fun of getting to be an actor. You get to try on different people. I want to do that as much as I can.”
“Love Life” was also the first time Harper was, as the lead, at the top of a call sheet for a job.
“I have worked with some really fantastic No. 1's, so I feel like I had an idea of what creates an environment for everyone to feel capable of doing their best work," said Harper. “Besides just being on set the most and having to carry the most dialog, you also set a tone. A great attitude on set reverberates through everything and everyone. People feel comfortable and safe to try things. They make interesting choices and take some big swings. It was a trip to contribute to setting that tone," he said.
Harper is currently filming a top secret project in London which he says is nothing like “Love Life.” He says if he elaborates he "will wind up in the trunk of a car and driven to a bridge where I get a very stern talking to. I’m not trying to have any of that.”
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