How William Jackson Harper Inspired ‘Love Life’ Season 2’s Marcus

Love Life Season 2 William Jackson Harper

Love Life is coming back for Season 2 after first arriving in 2020 with the launch of HBO Max, but there are some changes happening as Anna Kendrick passes the baton to The Good Place‘s William Jackson Harper for the latest chapter of this romantic comedy anthology.

The actor, who also recently featured in the Barry Jenkins-directed limited series The Underground Railroad, is taking on a role that many haven’t seen him in before with Love Life’s Marcus Watkins. “There was a lot of discussions because we knew it was going to be Will, and we knew the character’s name,” co-showrunner Rachelle Williams says of diving into Marcus, the man at the center of Season 2.

Love Life Season 2 Anna Kendrick and William Jackson Harper

(Credit: HBO Max)

He’s almost the complete opposite of Kendrick’s Season 1 character, Darby, who pops into the show from time to time for Season 2. And when it came to creating Marcus’ story, Williams reveals that the inspiration came from asking herself what kind of a show she wanted to watch. “I want to write what I enjoy,” she says, “and so, Marcus is obviously going to be complicated, just like we all are.”

As the title of the series reveals, Love Life follows the trials and tribulations Marcus faces in his love life as well as the non-romantic relationships in his life. To form Marcus, Williams and fellow co-showrunners Bridget Bedard and Sam Boyd, who created the series, looked to their star Harper for influence.

Love Life Season 2 William Jackson Harper

(Credit: HBO Max)

“He just brought so much of himself to the character that we were able to kind of just build and build and build on that,” Bedard reveals. As much as Harper inspired the writers’ approach to the role they helped create for him, Boyd wants to “make the distinction that he informed it” and not that the stories are based on Harper’s reality. “It was definitely thinking about Will as an actor, [and thinking of] how we can best showcase his abilities,” adds Boyd.

The collaboration process actually began a little bit later on in the process of gearing up for production. Williams reveals that for her, the process “began for me once we started shooting and finding new things in Marcus and in Will.” She goes on to say that as they’d learn something new about the character or Harper’s approach to Marcus they’d make “tweaks to the script throughout.”

Love Life Season 2 Jessica Williams and William Harper Jackson

(Credit: HBO Max)

Pointing out the fact that Harper isn’t just the lead actor, but an executive producer as well, Bedard says, “He read and vetted everything, and he was very surgical about his notes. He was very thoughtful and would give us tiny tweaks and ideas and thoughts and reflections.”

Harper’s insight was so integral that Bedard says, “A couple of times, he was instrumental in his words,” when it came to the script. While viewers will have to tune in to find out who Marcus really is, expect a character who seems to have parts of his life together only to have them fall apart at the least opportune times. Struggles and triumphs make for a compelling picture of the New York City-dwelling Marcus whose parents, sister, friends, and romantic prospects weave in and out of his life.

“I always like to think about actors as the department head of the character,” Boyd shares. “The actor is the person who needs to get it on its feet and make it feel real and relatable. Will’s a writer himself,” continues Boyd. “He’s written pretty incredible plays, and it was important to us that he really felt like his stamp was on this thing.”

Don’t miss the impression Harper makes as Marcus when Love Life returns for Season 2 on HBO Max this fall, and catch up on the first season streaming now.

Love Life, Season 2 Premiere, Thursday, October 28, HBO Max