Plus: HBO Max star tells TheWrap how his character of Marcus and Anna Kendrick’s Darby are connected
HBO Max’s “Love Life” launches its second season Thursday, with an installment that shifts its romantic focus from Anna Kendrick’s Darby Carter to William Jackson Harper’s Marcus Watkins.
The plan for the Paul Feig-produced, New York City-set comedy anthology was always to follow a different character’s love story each season. And in moving from Kendrick as the star to Harper as the lead, “Love Life” is making one of the biggest shifts in perspective it could: going from a single white woman just out of college to a married Black man in his thirties married to a white woman.
“Well, I think the thing that was the most present in my mind, the thing that got me most excited, was it being a story about a 30-something, someone a little older and sort of having this major shift in your life, when you think you should kind of have it all together and know what you’re doing,” “The Good Place” alum Harper told TheWrap.
“For me, it speaks to me personally, to sort of feel a little bit at sea at a time where everyone else feels like they very much understand what’s going on. And so, I really wanted to dive into that. And then as far as going from a white woman to a Black man. For me, honestly, it’s like, I’ve always been a Black man (laughs). So I really don’t have any other frame of reference.”
Per HBO Max, “Love Life” Season 2 follows Marcus Watkins “after his marriage unexpectedly implodes.” He is then “forced to rebuild his life brick by brick, hoping to find a love that will last, once and for all.”
The second season of “Love Life” is led by Season 1 showrunners Sam Boyd (who created the series) and Bridget Bedard, as well as “Tuca & Bertie” and “Mixed-ish” writer Rachelle Williams, who was brought on the duo’s co-showrunner for Season 2 and offers a Black perspective to the series, and to the character of Marcus, that Boyd and Bedard can’t.
Harper welcomes the multiple insights his showrunners — and their diverse writers’ room — can offer Season 2 of “Love Life,” as there are only so many he can “identify with” himself and provide via his role as Black leading man Marcus.
“To me, that’s normal and everything else is something that I’m having to sort of, you know, do a little bit more work to sort of lean into,” Harper said. “Well, not lean into, but there’s things that I can’t identify with, with people that are within our story, with anyone other than a Black man. There are certain things I kind of understand and gravitate to. And so, really, it was just leaning into certain specific experiences, not necessarily mine, but things from the writers’ room, other people’s personal experiences and sort of coming at it just from my point of view, and trying to lean into the truth of that, as much as I could.”
But again, what really speaks to Harper most about “Love Life” Season 2 isn’t his character’s race, but his age.
“The older you get, the more stuff you have with you,” Harper told TheWrap. “The more relationships, the more emotional baggage, the more mental things and triggers that you have. You just have more of that stuff, just because you’ve just been on the planet for a lot longer. It seems to me, that the older you get, making a change of any sort gets more and more difficult because when you’re younger, you’re sort of turning a speedboat around. And then when you’re older, you’re turning around an entire ocean liner (laughs). You know, it’s just a much more complicated process and takes a little more time.”
Harper also appreciates the complexities that viewers will see in Marcus when “Love Life” Season 2 debuts its first three episodes Thursday on HBO Max. Promos and the logline have already revealed his character will be dealing with a divorce — but we don’t yet know why.
“I really like coming into it with, not just the guy who is older and who has just been bopping around doing the same thing that he’s been doing since he first moved to the city, but this is a guy who is a little bit more subtle and really thinks he knows what his life is going to be. And then something comes his way to sort of throws all of that into question. And I think that that’s a really interesting way to start things,” Harper said.
“And also, Marcus is just a flawed person,” he continued. “I think it’s very important to, especially in this genre, for a character who you’re following to have major flaws, which Marcus does. Something about that just feel really truthful and human to me, where it’s like, he may not make the right decision, and he will definitely sometimes make the wrong decisions, say the wrong things, and the person that’s responsible for the mess in his life is not just an unfair universe, but he himself. He’s the one making all the trouble.”
Harper went on: “And it’s not always like that the entire season, there are some things that get in his way that aren’t fair. But there are also a lot of times where he is the one that messes up. And that feels real to me, because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely had some times where I’ve looked back on the things that I’m done and I’m like, well, the reason that went wrong was because of something I did, not because the world is unfair.”
Along with Harper, Season 2 of HBO Max’s “Love Life” also stars series Jessica Williams, Chris “Comedian CP” Powell and Punkie Johnson. Additionally, “Love Life” Season 1 stars Kendrick, Zoë Chao, Peter Vack, Sasha Compére and Nick Thune will be appearing in Season 2.
The “Love Life” Season 2 trailer has already revealed that Darby is connected to Marcus in some way, and that Marcus even attends Darby’s 2016 wedding to Magnus (Nick Thune) — which viewers of Season 1 know is the beginning of a marriage that doesn’t last. But to what extent will Darby be involved in Marcus’s story throughout Season 2?
“I feel like this is just one of those ways in which New York works,” Harper teased. “Like, the amount of times that I’ve run into someone that I’ve met through a friend that I’ve made who is relatively new — it’s really a small world and you find your crew of people and there’s easily a lot of overlap. And I think that this is a way for it to feel organic without sort of making it a, ‘Now she’s the best friend in the story!’ No, really it’s just like we’re all sort of these little atoms just sort of bumping into each other. Sometimes we know each other a little bit, sometimes we know each other well. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t some sort of relationship there.”
Harper says he loves that “Love Life” Season 2 is “going into this from the standpoint of, it’s is a large city where you often will run into the same people.”
He continued: “And maybe you never, like, deeply, deeply, deeply connect on so many things and maybe you never forge a serious relationship with them in any way. But you do have a fondness for them, you do feel a certain level of comfort with them. And then you’ll probably know them for a long time without ever actually even so much as going to dinner with them exclusively. But it is something that’s just part of what it is to live in New York, I think, is just to have people that you’re constantly bumping into, that you have a rapport with, but that you don’t really cross that threshold into like a really intimate friendship either.”
“Love Life” Season 2 premieres with its first three episodes Thursday on HBO Max.
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