The Good Place stands out quite a bit amongst the crowd of TV shows. The quirky, and at times awkward show manages to somehow be a complex study of morality, while also delivering reliable comedy beats and clever satire.
Perhaps the most “different” character of the show, fans immediately loved D’Arcy Carden’s performance as Janet. Her unique approach to the role was iconic and even earned her an Emmy nomination. In the beginning, though, she was convinced that she would never get the role and had lost it to a teenage boy.
Who is D’Arcy Carden?
D’arcy Carden was born as Darcy Beth Eroken in Danville, California. Her father was a Turkish immigrant and actor and founded the magazine BAM. According to IMDb, young Darcy became young D’Arcy during her adolescence in honor of bassist D’Arcy Wretsky from The Smashing Pumpkins.
After college, Carden moved to New York and became active in a number of comedy and improv groups throughout the city. After appearing in several shows, it was her involvement with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCB) that would widen her exposure beyond off-broadway theater.
She began touring with the UCB, and working with their sketch comedy productions for UCB Comedy Originals. The connections she made within the industry quickly led to further opportunities. Appearances on series like Inside Amy Schumer and Adam Ruins Everything started to get her noticed.
A recurring role on Broad City starting in 2014 seemed like the sketch comic may be able to make the transition to TV star, and The Good Place in 2016 was a big leap toward that.
Convinced she lost the role
Carden auditioned for the role of Janet on The Good Place convinced she was out of her league. She had auditioned for the role because she wanted to work with show creator Mike Schur, according to Mental Floss. She was intimidated to walk in and read for someone she saw as a Hollywood “bigshot” and was convinced she would fail.
She also had her confidence shaken by some of the other competitors who showed up for the role. Though she wouldn’t name names, Carden told GQ in a 2017 interview, “A 16-year-old boy! Who, by the way, is a genius. When I saw him, I remember texting a friend who had done a movie with him and I was like, ‘I’m auditioning after him. Why am I even here? He’s, of course, going to get it.’”
It seems Carden slammed the audition out of the park though. “I was expecting, I don’t know, snobby a**hole Hollywood dudes?” the star commented on the interview, “But they were very cool. I walked out feeling, ‘Sh*t, that was actually the best.’”
It’s hard to imagine anyone else being cast as Janet because Carden is so quintessentially the character. Her dry wit and snappy comments are perfect for the role.
Like most things in the show, Janet is very, very complex. Carden’s performance is uniquely able to bring the character to life, yet leave her just inhuman enough. Some actors would’ve found Janet’s complex nature problematic, but Carden uses it to her advantage. She finds that perfect ground between naive child and computer that’s exactly what Janet needs.
While another actor could’ve put a uniquely fun spin on the character of Janet, she does seem a perfect character for a performer like Carden who cut their teeth in troupe comedy and improv. It may have been interesting to see how this unnamed young man would’ve played Janet, fans certainly would never trade the Janet they already have.
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