William Jackson Harper is having a moment (or three)

William Jackson Harper has scored an business hat trick.

The veteran stage and display screen actor co-stars in Oscar winner Barry Jenkins’ Amazon series “The Underground Railroad” and headlines Season 2 of “Love Life” (HBO Max), which just wrapped shooting on its 1st episode in New York City.

He also can take a memorable road trip in the recently launched film “We Broke Up” — or, as he calls it, “an indie anti-rom-com” co-starring Aya Money (“The Boys”).

“It commences off with a couple who’ve been together for 10 yrs. I engage in Doug, who asks his girlfriend, Lori [Cash], to marry him — and she throws up,” mentioned Harper, 41. “The movie will take off from there as they are heading to a wedding and attempting to get via that weekend.

“It’s a definitely thorny point when two persons are in a romantic relationship and like each individual other, but want various items. In some way that feels very grown-up and interesting to me.”

On the Television set entrance, Harper performs Royal in “The Underground Railroad,” the 10-part Amazon sequence centered on Colson Whitehead’s 2016 alt-actuality novel. Set in the 19th century deep South, it envisions a globe in which slaves attempting to escape to their flexibility use an precise underground railroad — entire with educate tracks, engineers, a conductor, and so forth. The sequence focuses on Cora (Thuso Mbedu) and Caesar (Aaron Pierre), who are making an attempt to flee from a Georgia plantation. Royal, who’s also highlighted in the ebook, is a freeborn black male and an operator on the railroad who helps get travellers as much North as achievable — and strikes up a friendship with Cora.

William Jackson Harper and Thuso Mbedu in a scene from “The Underground Railroad.”
Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon

“It’s a actual paradigm change for Cora when she sees Royal simply because she says, ‘He’s just seeking persons in the eye and chatting to them — there’s nothing at all subservient about him,’ ” Harper claimed. “There’s nothing at all about him that feels obsequious in any way, and that’s one thing I held on to when trying to engage in the character.

“I wanted to get a sense for how Royal moves by way of the entire world,” Harper said. “There is such a factor as doing way too a great deal analysis for specific pieces, but that wasn’t the situation with this piece. I consider Royal has arrived at sure conclusions…and I really latched on to that.

“I knew about the reserve for a even though it was just one of these textbooks I retained which means to read through but prevented due to the fact I realized it would upset me,” he mentioned. “I understood the challenge was coming to the monitor in some capacity, but I did not think in a million several years that I would get to audition for it, a lot much less be involved. When I did study the book I couldn’t put it down — it was heartbreaking and also quite hopeful in moments and I was genuinely cheering for Cora.

“It was so successful, evocative, harrowing and crucial in so many strategies.”

William Jackson Harper and Kristen Bell as Chidi and Eleanor in a scene from “The Superior Spot,” for which Harper obtained an Emmy nomination.
©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collectio
William Jackson Harper posing as himself.
William Jackson Harper

Harper, who played Chidi Adagonye on “The Very good Place” for all 4 seasons of the NBC afterlife sitcom — for which he received an Emmy nomination — pivots subsequent to “Love Lifestyle,” getting above in the anthology series from Anna Kendrick’s Time 1 character, Darby Carter.

“I’m participating in Marcus,” he stated. “The initial season was about what it is to be in New York in your 20s and locating like being a huge aspect of that, along with a host of other challenges tied to being a younger particular person new to the town.

“My tale can take off from the level of watch of a person who’s lived in New York for a though, is a little additional steady and a little bit older [than Darby] and thinks his everyday living is going to be this way heading ahead — and what transpires when all of that is thrown up in the air…what it is like to be older and hoping to day and determine out who you are when every little thing you imagined you have been has entirely shifted.

“It’s discovering other difficulties by way of the lens of trying to found who you are meant to be with.”

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