HBO Max’s Love Life returns for a second season on Thursday, October 28 with a totally new story: The rom-com anthology series will now focus on the relationships of Marcus Watkins, a friend of season one’s Darby Carter (Anna Kendrick) played by William Jackson Harper. (You may remember him as Chidi Anagonye on the NBC comedy The Good Place.)
Marcus’ marriage seemingly dissolves in front of our eyes, but the relationships that follow throughout the season provide a deeper look into the lives of 30-somethings trying to navigate love, career, and familial relationships. Joining Harper on the second season are Jessica Williams, Chris “Comedian CP” Powell, and Punkie Johnson.
And with so much focus on love and relationships, Glamour caught up with Harper to delve a bit into his own love life and dating perspectives for our latest installment of Inappropriate Questions.
Glamour: I read that you were a late bloomer when it came to dating. When and where was your first kiss?
William Jackson Harper: Oh God, first kiss. It was probably actually my sophomore year of high school. That was it. I think that was it.
So, did the person know it was your first kiss?
Yeah, I think so. Because I don’t know, I think that I had this sort of reputation in high school with being just sort of almost completely a-romantic and not at all engaged in any sort of satisfaction of my loins. I think that people thought that I just wasn’t into that at all. So yeah, I’m pretty sure that they thought that that was my first kiss or knew it was.
Love Life is somewhat of a romantic comedy. What are the best and worst romantic comedies that you’ve seen?
It’s tough because I don’t watch a ton of them. It’s funny, I think the best is Scott Pilgrim Versus The World. I think that’s a fantastic romantic comedy. There’s romance and there’s comedy and there’s also video games. Because I’m a nerd, that’s the fun for me. The worst? God, I don’t know, I find so many of them so corny that it’s hard to single out one.
For me, my worst is Pretty Woman.
Yeah, I hated that movie.
Love that one. Oh, I know. There’s this movie that I watched as a little kid called The Mirror Has Two Faces, but I’m not sure if it was a comedy or not. All I know is that it made me very uncomfortable.
I have to Google that now.
I’m not sure if it was a rom-com or just a romance, maybe the fact that it was just a romance, maybe that’s probably why I was just like, “Oh no, I don’t want to have anything to do with this.”
Well, it says it was one of Barbra Streisand’s finest works.
I’m sure it was. I think I just couldn’t see that.
What attracted you to this season of Love Life? And what did you want to focus more on?
I just wanted to explore how messy everything is and how Marcus is a guy at a certain stage in his life where he feels like he should have it all together and have it all figured out. He’s judging that. He’s sort of got the stability that I think that so many of us are craving in certain respects. And I think that when that all gets thrown up into the air and your life gets upended like that you have to piece your entire persona back together. You have to use your idea of yourself and your personality and your identity. All of that is very starkly called into question.
I think being in your thirties is a weird time for that because, at least for me, I thought that when I hit my thirties, I should have known exactly what I wanted and who I was. And I had a lot of growing still to do. I think that Marcus is doing that. I don’t think I’m alone rather in thinking that once you hit your thirties you should be a little bit more clear about what you want and who you are. And when you’re not, you feel like you’re behind. You feel like you’ve done something wrong. It’s kind of a frightening time. That’s where Marcus is. I thought that the show and the journey that we were going on really explored that in a way that felt specific and nuanced to me.
This season also explored other aspects of relationships and marriages, like cheating. Do you feel emotional cheating is the same as physical cheating?
I don’t. It’s not to say that it shouldn’t be discussed. That it isn’t a transgression of sorts because it is. But I think that it’s more like, we’re all just humans bumping into each other. I think that you’re going to be attracted to people that are not your partner. I feel like that’s natural. To have the restraint to not act upon that physically is, I think, part of being in a commitment—having those urges and being like, “You know what, I’m not going to act on that because I don’t want to blow up my life, I don’t want to hurt this person that matters more to me than the gratification I would get in this moment.”
But I think that going down the rabbit hole emotionally with another person, that’s still you hiding something from your person that you really shouldn’t be hiding from them. You’re still opening up to someone else in a way that you should be opening up to your person. I do think that there is a transgression, but I feel like there’s some credit to be given for restraint when it comes to not acting on it physically.
Have you ever cheated in a relationship, or been cheated on?
No. No, I’ve never cheated, and I haven’t actually been cheated on. I guess it’s like…I don’t consider it being cheated on. There have been moments where something felt a little questionable when it came to certain partners that I’ve had before that I’m like, “Huh, Is that okay? I’m not sure if that’s okay,” but I wouldn’t consider it cheating. It was just something that sort of stuck out to me as something to be unpacked.
This season delves into a relationship between a Black man and a Black woman. Would you describe this season as a look into Black love or just love?
I think just love. It’s not like we’re ignoring race. We’re not ignoring the nuances of being a Black person operating and maneuvering within certain white spaces, and we’re not ignoring the connection that some Black people have for each other that is sort of unspoken and just comes up without any effort. But I don’t think that we’re specifically just to show Black love. We’re just looking at a love story where one of the aspects of the limbs we’re viewing this story through is Blackness.
There are a lot of random dates in this season. What is your ideal romantic evening?
Ideal romantic evening? Because I’m so non-romantic, I think maybe going to a basketball game. I’ve taken my girlfriend to a basketball game, and she loved it. I like seeing how happy she was and how much fun she had. That was great. Hanging out, going to a basketball game, going and grabbing a drink at a nice cocktail bar or something, something quiet that isn’t so loud that you can’t talk to each other, but it’s not like dead either. And then just sort of taking a long walk. That’s my jam. It all starts with the basketball game because you got to start with something that’s a lot of fun. Your date’s got to be really fucking hyped about the activity in some capacity.
Marcus got tons of relationship advice from friends and family this season. If you were a relationship expert, what dating advice would you give people?
Good thing I’m not a relationship expert because I shouldn’t be giving anybody any damn advice on anything. I would say—this sounds so corny and obvious—but I think honesty is the thing you need to actually land in the thing that you want. You know? It’s like, if you’re honest and you’re in a relationship that isn’t going to work, you’ll get out of it. If you’re honest about who you are, you’re more likely to end up with a person that can be with you for who you are rather than an idea of you. Be honest about what you want and be unapologetic about it. You’ll land where you need to land. I think that if you try to lean into an idea of what you think you want and what you think you are, it seems to me like you’re opening yourself up to some growing pains and to some discomfort.
And finally, what differentiates this season from the previous season?
Well, primarily the age of the characters. I think the world that we’re moving in, is people that are way more settled. There’s a lot of questions about what you want your life to look like, what you want to be. Those things are answered. And I think that the first season is largely about figuring all that out and very openly so. That the older you get, the narrower some of those get because you’ve already made some decisions that you can stand behind. I think in your twenties, you’re still figuring things out. In your thirties, you’ve made some decisions. But that doesn’t mean that you’ve made all of them. And that doesn’t mean that you were honest with yourself and made the right decisions. This season is about drilling down on who you are and what you need in a relationship.
Yesha Callahan is an award-winning journalist, editorial director, and TV writer based in Los Angeles.
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