Talking THE GOOD PLACE S2 with Luke Guldan

At the end THE GOOD PLACE’s first season finale, which returns tonight for a special premiere after the AMERICA’S GOT TALENT finale (on NBC), the premise of the show (that found Kristen Bell’s Eleanor Shellstrop “incorrectly” sent to the good place after she died) was blown to bits by the revelation that she was never in the good place, but was in the bad place the whole time. 

Ted Danson’s Michael was a master manipulator and in the final moments of the S1 finale, the game was reset and Eleanor was re-introduced to the “good” place experiment, complete with her new soul mate Chris Baker, played by Luke Guldan.

Season 2 picks up immediately following the events of Season 1, and to celebrate the return, I spent some time talking with Luke about playing with these characters, what comes next, and why people are flocking to the show.

Check it out!

I love this show so much and I’m so excited it’s coming back!
Oh you and me both, man. I mean let me tell you a lot of people, I won’t name names, were like, it’s not going to happen! But I kept the faith and they got it and I’m glad they did. The second season looks really cool. The little I’ve seen looks like it’s going to be a really great one.

So we get this little bit at the end of the first season, this big surprise change and suddenly Eleanor has a new soulmate. How much did you know about being involved for season two after that little scene we got?
Everything the entire time has come and been a mystery just you know the gift that keeps on giving.  It was a blessing, the whole thing. It really was just supernatural, the fact that it’s called THE GOOD PLACE. It was the good place for me on many levels. From the first time, getting the call about the project, getting over there and getting on the set, I had no idea. So I was walking to rehearsal and I just kind of got the dailies so I didn’t really know. People were telling me in the wardrobe, and hair and makeup, like, hey, we gotta take a couple of continuity pictures. At that point that really kind of you know no joke, thinking I was just featured background at this point.  I didn’t get a script, they wouldn’t give it a script, no lines, so I’m like I’m going over here, I’ve got to name, you know, it’s a gig, so let’s just do this thing. So then you know little just bits of information kept coming in it was like oh this is good, this sounds cool, ok, great! You know it is just getting better and better.

We shot the first season and you know the waiting and the mystery kind of just continued. I didn’t know what was going on; I had no idea and I didn’t know really what the character was going to be, if it was going to be much or anything. So I was just kind of going along for the ride and being hopeful and thankful and seeing what was going to happen. And then I got a call like really quickly and they were like, we need you out here in a couple of days. I had been preparing things, as crazy as it sounds. I didn’t know if it was going to be like one day or for three months so I kind of just had my whole New York situation packed up ready to go. I was living out of suitcases, thinking like, “we’re going to get that call. We’re going to get the green light,” and then thank God it happened and I went up to L.A. I stayed out here and we got rocking and rolling and even as we were shooting this season I really didn’t know what was going to happen! I was kind of like day-to-day see what was going to happen!

Can you tease anything about what we’ll see in Season 2?
What can I say [laughs]?! There’s a lot of different plot-lines and things going on.  There are soul mate activities that are going to be happening this first episode, I can tell you that! There will be some activity going down and then there will be kind of just a few other little things happening, a few reveals, a few twists and then you know kind of going for another stir!  It’s a little bit of a mystery, what do they call it, wrapped in an enigma and there’s a puzzle [laughs].  That’s kind of the deal going on right now, at least in my estimation.

I have seen the first episode and I think it’s hysterical that pretty much every time we see you you’re heading to the gym.
It’s funny right?  I’m excited to see it myself so I’m totally jealous right now! I’ve got GOOD PLACE envy!

What’s that been like being on set with like Ted and Kristen? 
Oh it was awesome to be around them! I mean these are the greats!  They have been doing it for a while and they’re awesome. Just seeing what they were doing and kind of just the camaraderie and the ease they bring to the whole atmosphere. It’s just kind of great to be around them; it’s a really creative environment, it’s a trusting environment, and an encouraging environment. So it was great to be on a set like that. And then even the other people, like the other soul mates, like you were saying that were coming in, they were either on the show, or have done other things you’ve seen or have collaborated with, so it’s kind of interesting to see everybody’s story and like where they are with their careers and what they’re working on and kind of like seeing everyone’s different process with how they work and deal with the material.

With THE GOOD PLACE, not many scenes end with you still wearing a shirt. What’s that like to worry about? Do you get nervous about it?
I did a lot of body building competitions for over a decade, just very, very, kind of just on it.  It’s not that I necessarily take it for granted, but it goes along with it. We were on set, and we did the bit, I think Kristen said something like “do you feel completely objectified right now or what?” and I was like, NO, I live for this! [laughs].  It’s all part of the show; that’s the full package. You gotta come ready, and you have fun!

Why do you think this is a show that so many people have fallen for or you think new people will find in season two. What do you think it is about the good place that draws people to it?
I think it’s an interesting story line with great writing and great actors and just kind of I think it’s uplifting! It’s wham-bam, you watch it, it’s uplifting, it’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s light. And I think it’s really just kind of a testament to the great people in each category that are really at the top of their game kind of just coming together like great writers, great editors, great camera, great directors, producers and the talent!  Kristen and Ted are just great, carrying the show, and making everything look so easy, that airiness.

And you mention great writers and you mentioned you know that it’s a creative environment too. Is there encouragement for improv on the set? Was there are freedom there even though you have the scripts to work with that you could throw lines energy or the cast felt that they can?
I think it depended the scene in; you have certain things you have to hit, you’re not just going to go AWOL. But they also write where we would hit it one way and then everything was kind of in the moment. They’d fly in kind of like, “oh try this!” or “say this.”  Once we got how it scripted, we would deviate a little and maybe try a different line or try something else or work with something and see kind of how it was flowing. So yeah, it was definitely quick, it was definitely spontaneous in the moment and just figuring out what works or not just being set in one way. So that was really kind of a cool atmosphere to be working in.

It’s exciting too because it feels like NBC is really behind it putting it behind you know a big finale to boost ratings for the premiere and putting it with WILL & GRACE, GREAT NEWS, and SUPERSTORE.  What’s it like to be a part of a show and this lineup / having this support?
It’s a little surreal. It’s a special thing, a special time and just being on a network. A primetime network!! I mean, I’m not complaining that you know just hanging out for the ride. It’s just good to be in good company, pun intended, pun intended!!

Do you get a chance to watch other TV? Is there stuff that you can’t miss?
So much. There’s so many movies coming. Oh my goodness it’s overwhelming. There’s so much good stuff. So yeah I’ve got a ton of stuff I want to catch up on. Even old stuff and I need to revisit things. I saw a few clips of THE SOPRANOS and it was like, oh man I gotta go back and look at that again! I’m super excited for STRANGER THINGS coming back up. Netflix has so much good stuff. THE GOOD PLACE, BROAD CITY, there’s just so much good stuff going on. I think I’m going to go see “mother!” a few times. I have friends who have seen it already. It’s a big buzz thing going on right now. I’m kind of curious to see.

There’s an overwhelming number of things coming up or airing or coming soon.  It’s insane.
I know, it’s wild. I mean you either read a script or watch a show or there’s a new show coming out. Or even a whole new platform. I’m hearing about different mediums in which you know YouTube starting a new thing, and like Facebook!!  There’s just so many different mediums with high level content. You know between the Hulus, the Amazons and Netflix. I mean there’s no minimum to watching; there’s no excuse to not find something to watch, if you can find the platform [laughs].

What else have you been working on lately that’s coming up?
So I just finished working on the project put together by Linda Yellen and it’s called FLUIDITY, and it’s a and we shot it in New York City and it explores what’s going on with I guess dating and sexuality with the youths of America right now and how that’s going on. It’s a pretty cool script with couple of cool people involved, so I’m so excited to see what happens. A film I worked on two years ago is finally getting some legs and distribution so they’re going to be coming out on Amazon Prime and On Demand. It’s called ADDICTED and it’s about attention deficit disorder and suicide. A couple of issues that are not necessarily spoken about as much, but are prevalent right now.  So an important story that I’m glad is finally getting some attention, some eyes, because it’s something that I think people can benefit, from having at least a conversation about, because it’s a serious issue.

I was looking at your bio it looks like you’ve done some stage work to do. Do you want to get back to the theater?
Oh yeah! All the time I was just on the New York working on the film and a couple of opportunities for some theater came up which I was super excited about and waiting to see is that something that’s going to happen.  I’m very passionate about getting back on stage and working, being in that environment, working on material with people for a prolonged period of time and just growing that and doing it in front of the audience, something different every night.

THE GOOD PLACE premieres 9/20 at 10/9c, before settling in at 8:30/7:30c on Thursdays as of 9/28.

Luke can be found on Twitter @LukeGuldan.

Photos courtesy of MLC PR.