D’Arcy Carden is on the phone with me discussing her partnership with Straight Talk Wireless with impressive resolution. In this moment, she reminds me of her The Good Place persona Janet, an all-knowing information vessel (or “Busty Alexa,” as coined by Kristen Bell’s Eleanor) who is not a robot, but not a human. When I point out the Janetness of her delivery, Carden warmly replies, “We are one.” Created by Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine mastermind Michael Schur, The Good Place follows four humans in the afterlife who are grappling with what it means to be good. Along with Carden and Bell, the series also stars Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto, and Cheers veteran Ted Danson as an afterlife architect. And here’s the thing, my little chili babies: While The Good Place takes the form of a comedy sitcom with fart jokes, the series is actually riddled with astute explorations of philosophy and virtue.
Carden, who has also dazzled us in Broad City and Barry, is a tour de force. This much has been amplified through her performance in Season 3’s “Janet(s),” where she takes on the roles of our beloved cockroaches: Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason—oh, and also Neutral Janet and Eleanor-Janet pretending to be Jason-Janet. Her performance garnered accolades, with critics hailing her as the series’ breakout star. Unsurprisingly, NBC renewed the series for a fourth season. But despite her all-knowing counterpart, Carden is very much in the void with regard to what comes next. When asked what to expect in Season 4, she quipped, “We don’t start filming until April, and they’re writing right now. So can you tell me what to expect! Because I have no idea. I have no idea. I’m so anxious to find out. I can’t wait.”
Following the January 24th Season 3 finale, I hopped on the phone with Carden to discuss the series, her upcoming comedy film Greener Grass, her partnership with Straight Talk Wireless, and her desire to live at Ted Danson’s house in the afterlife. Read on for more.
HelloGiggles (HG): I wanted to start by praising your performance in the brilliant “Janet(s)” episode. What was the biggest challenge of taking on all these characters in one episode?
D’Arcy Carden (DC): As an actor, we are used to kind of creating characters and playing different roles. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is trying to play someone that the audience knows so well already, you know? Not to mention that they’re all so distinct and they all have their own styles and ways of speaking, and ways of holding their body. I really wanted to get it right. I’m such a fan of the show and such a fan of these characters as well, so I wanted to honor that. It was very easy to get in my head and kind of freak out about it. Everybody was so helpful and everybody was on board with whatever I needed to make it work. Even though I know it was just sort of my big old face up there on screen a lot, it was such a group effort. It was all hands on deck for sure.
HG: I need to bring up that clip of the cast teaching Ted Danson how to do the floss. It’s the best thing in the universe.
DC: It’s funny because he was learning how to floss for episode, maybe 12, or something. So he was doing that every single day. He was having such a hard time getting it. I didn’t even know we were being filmed when someone caught it on their camera. That wasn’t the one time. He was doing it everyday. There was one day where my nephew, who’s like 9, visited set. It seems like all children today know how to floss. It’s like it’s in their bones or something. They were born with it. My nephew Dash is like a pro flosser, and he was trying to teach Ted how to floss. That was just an everyday occurrence. And Ted is so funny and silly and so game for whatever. I feel like a lot of actors of his caliber and his age would be like, “No, I’m not going to do that.” But instead he was like, “I’ll do it everyday.” He’s such a good actor that he wanted to perfect it, which was amazing.
HG: Building from that, tell me about cast dynamics. The series is so witty and funny and ridiculous in the best way. Were there moments where you just couldn’t keep it together?
DC: There are a few of those moments for sure. There’s one I remember that was so impossible. There was this one episode where we wind up in a bar in Canada and there’s a big fight scene. Does that sound familiar?
HG: Yes. You were beating up the demons.
DC: Yeah, thank you for reminding me of that. I was beating them up. Marc Evan Jackson had a line where he had to say something about… I’m going to mess it up. Something about wasp nostrils. Like, “I don’t want those wasp nostrils. I want your wasp…” some tongue twister. He could not get through it. Every single time we’d get to it he wasn’t laughing. He just was messing the line up, and the six of us were looking at him and we were cracking up. Once he finally did get it we would still crack up. It was impossible. It goes from being fun and silly to the crew being like, “Come on, man. We want to just get through this scene.” We had to bite our lips and tongues and look down at the floor to try to get through it.
HG: You star in an upcoming thriller comedy, Greener Grass, about suburban soccer moms. Tell me more about your character, Miss Human.
DC: It is a very cool dark comedy. It’s super weird. It’s a wild ride. I play an elementary school teacher, but not all the kids are normal. It’s a weird one. You’re going to love it. The cast is incredible. We have Mary Holland, Neil Casey and Beck Bennett, and just a super good ensemble cast. The writer directors are these two women that are old friends of mine that I came up with at UCB [Upright Citizens Brigade], Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe. They’re super smart weirdos that I loved working with.
HG: You partnered with Straight Talk Wireless to share advice for resolutions. What were some of the resolutions you set this year, and how are you maintaining them?
DC: We make these resolutions that are so unattainable, or expensive, or our eyes are sort of bigger than our stomachs or whatever that phrase is. This year I tried to set resolutions that I could maintain. One of them is simple: It’s drinking eight glasses of water a day, which I’ve done, thank you very much. The other one is to FaceTime with my family once a week, at least. With Straight Talk Wireless, their deal is that they’re this affordable nationwide cellphone provider with no contracts, which I love. That’s part of the thing with these resolutions is that we sign contracts. We spend all this money, or we get these big ideas like, a life coach, or, “I’m going to join a gym for a year.” There’s too many things that they’re unattainable, then we end up feeling ashamed and sad like, “I’m never going to make another resolution.” There’s a way to do what you set out to do, but also save money and make it a resolution that you can attain. OK, so water and FaceTime.
The thing about [resolutions] is it doesn’t have to be January. You could do February. Just think of something, just a small way to improve your life, or make your life better, or save money. Truly, that’s the thing with Straight Talk Wireless, is that you could save money just by being with them. There’s no contracts. They have this new, amazing, affordable phone plan that’s $45 with 25 gigabytes of high speed data. Even just a resolution to save money while using your phone, which you would be doing anyways. That’s a good resolution right there.
HG: At the beginning of The Good Place, each resident is assigned to an afterlife house that caters to personality. What would your ideal afterlife house be?
DC: The answer, I can think of it so quickly but it’s hard to explain. It is literally Ted Danson’s house. He and his wife Mary Steenburgen have this really lovely, comfy, beautiful house that is so homey and cozy and perfect in every way. Ted had the cast over for a sleepover a couple of months ago. We had a big cast sleepover and we were all looking around like, “Well, this is where we want to end up.” If I could choose anywhere for the rest of my life for the afterlife, it would be Ted Danson’s house with Ted, Mary and their dog.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.