D’Arcy Carden

LA’s D’Arcy Carden is a talent that brings a real sense of wit, fun and versatility to her acting roles.

Carden’s role as the AI assistant ‘Janet’ in the critically acclaimed TV show The Good Place launched her career not only at a national level within the US but across the globe back in 2016. Yet for many years prior to that show and after its ending in 2020, the exceptional actor and comedian has always consistently delivered interesting characters in numerous projects throughout the TV & film industry. All you have to do is look at one of her most recent roles such as A League Of Their Own, an enthralling reimagining of a beloved 90s US film where D’Arcy Carden portrays the character of a charismatic baseball player, Greta Gill. Whatever project she turns her hand to Carden is always willing to dive straight in with her scene partners and the end result is always sublime. This work ethic is something that has been instilled in the creative since moving to New York after graduating from college in the early 2000s. Once she landed in the concrete jungle, the entertainer continued pursuing her passion by joining the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), an improv theatre and training group. From there, she honed her craft by playing stand-up shows, co-created skits and put them out online, and started to appear in projects with other creatives, all whilst working different jobs to pay the bills. Undoubtedly D’Arcy’s comedic background is one of her key strengths and it has allowed her to develop a razor-sharp intuition, thanks to her work with audiences, meaning that she can traverse different characters and execute roles with a level of improvisation with ease.

Most recently, the actor has appeared alongside Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz and more for Amazon Prime’s latest flick, Shotgun Wedding. 1883 Magazine sat down with D’Arcy Carden to discuss her experience  working on the film with the A-list ensemble cast, the art of improv, and her future dream projects.



Hi D’Arcy, thanks for chatting with 1883 Magazine. Let’s talk about your latest film role as ‘Harriet’ in Prime Video’s Shotgun Wedding. You appear alongside Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz and more. The film seems to be a playful spin on the typical wedding/romance film, thanks to its action and comedy elements. What was it about the film that interested you to get involved?

Every aspect of it. When it came my way I knew Jennifer Lopez–who is an icon–was going to be in it so I thought “How could I be lucky enough to work with her?”. I was a big fan of the director Jason Moore and knew it would be filmed in the Dominican Republic so every part of it was appealing. When I read the script, I was just crossing my fingers hoping it would be good because I wanted it all to work out but I ended up reading it all in one bite, I couldn’t read it fast enough. I just thought it was so much fun.

There’s a bit of everything in there, it’s a rom-com mixed with an action movie but it’s sort of a throwback action movie. People die in this one, things get blown up, and there’s real blood. It’s not just some fake action movie, they go for it in the way they used to in the 80s and 90s which I thought was really exciting. The character I play, Harriet, is so fun and exciting. Without giving anything away, it’s such a thrilling character to play and I really couldn’t say yes fast enough, every box was ticked.


Amazing. Sounds like the stars aligned and the script was worth it! I can imagine on the odd occasion that some tv/film projects have such promise but then the actual script itself isn’t that good.

A good script is worth its weight in gold. You always want the script to be good because so often you read one and it’s not great. With this one I just really loved it, I couldn’t read it fast enough. I’m also rooting for Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel, who play Darcy and Tom, they’re very ‘on and off’ and ‘will they, won’t they’ throughout the movie and you’re just absolutely rooting for them. The movie is such a throwback in my opinion, it’s like one of those Romancing The Stone, 80s movies which had all of those elements.


The film’s premiere looked so fun, and the photos from your Instagram of you and Jennifer Coolidge are so wholesome. It’s also so nice to see Jennifer be recognised again for her acting talent via appearing in The White Lotus. Can you share any memories from working with her on the film? 

It’s such a win-win for everybody when someone like Jennifer Coolidge gets to be front and centre; someone we’ve all known and loved for so long. Getting to see her celebrated is so rewarding for her but also for us as fans and me as a friend. I’m so happy for her and proud of her. She’s always been our favourite [the audience], you always love her whenever she’s on-screen but it’s so nice that she’s getting a handshake from the world now; it’s really nice to see. Something I should tell you about this movie is that when we shot it in the Dominican Republic, all the actors–other than JLo–lived together in this big, beautiful beach house. Jennifer Lopez was the executive producer and obviously the star so she had a house down the beach. When you see the movie you’ll see that Josh [Duhamel] and J.Lo are the movie. They’re running down the beach shooting guns every day and the rest of us are just lounging around the pool, we had a lot of vacation days if you will.  All of the other actors, the ensemble, all lived together so when you ask if I have any stories about Coolidge, I have so many I don’t know where to begin.Moving into this house was such a funny thing to do, we were told there was a dining room where we were going to eat our meals and at first, I was like “Oh my god, are you telling me that for the next three months all of these people who I just met and am fans of and excited to get to know, I’m going to be eating every meal with them? I’m going to be at work with them and then I’m going to have to eat every meal with them?”. That’s a lot of socialising so I thought I’d be sure to end up eating a lot of meals in my room by myself or whatever but we truly could not get enough of each other.

We would go to work all day and then be taken back to this house where we would all yell to each other “Hurry up, be at dinner in fifteen minutes!”. We would run to a room, take a quick shower, get to the dining room, eat our meals together and then stay up late in the pool and the hot tub where we would drink wine, it was such a vacation. It was such a joke that it was a job. It was also one year into COVID so until then I had eaten every meal with my husband and my dog, I hadn’t left the house and certainly hadn’t been to a tropical island, let alone make new friends and those new friends being people like Cheech Marin and Lenny Kravitz, it really was incredible.I think because of the lockdown, it was a situation where we would have bonded anyway but it was like, extra bonding. We were a family, we got really close, really fast and I think nobody took for granted the situation we were in. It was just really special and everybody could feel it. It’s so funny to talk about this because it almost sounds cheesy but all we were doing was having fun the whole time. Lenny would bring a speaker to our dinners so we would eat these beautiful meals and then bring out the wine and we’d start drinking while Lenny played whatever music he liked, whatever struck him, and we would sing along at the table. Sometimes we would get up and dance as well.

I remember one night was a sort of Paul Simon dance party, everybody was singing 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and then Coolidge got up and started dancing, one by one everybody got up and she led us on a conga line down to the beach and then back up to the table. Nobody was questioning it, everybody went with it and then she just disappeared into the night, I don’t remember seeing her after that [laughs]. It was such a special little weirdo family and that’s what every night was like. There are a lot of good Coolidge stories, she’s a great storyteller. She’s larger-than-life and hilarious. You’ve seen her in these movies and at award shows and stuff but when we’re all just having dinner together, she’s really quiet. She leans in really far to tell these stories and the whole table will lean in to listen so she kind of whispers the stories to you and everyone will be waiting on the edge of their seat–they tend to be long, funny stories–she gets to the end and you realise the entire thing was made up. The punch line will make you realise “Oh, the entire thing was a joke”. She’s just one of the most special and funny people in the world.


Career-wise before getting into the industry, you joined a comedy theatre group called The Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). From your classes were there any particular lessons or experiences that you took from the UCB that you feel you’ve utilised in any of your roles so far?

Getting my foundation in comedy through the Upright Citizens Brigade permeated everything, it’s so funny it’s like every bit of my life, let alone acting work. There are so many good lessons through improv, it’s kind of cheesy to talk about it but it’s all about listening and being in the moment. Something I love about improv is that it’s not about being the shining star, it’s about working together. It’s just as important to set somebody up for the big laugh as it is to get the big laugh yourself. It may actually be more important to set someone up and make your scene partner look like a genius and then they’ll make you look like a genius.

When I first understood the basics of improv I was like “Oh man, this is for everybody” whether you want to be onstage performing or you work in an office, there are a lot of really great lessons there. To get to do improv in a basement in New York for ten years before I got on The Good Place or Barry prepared me in a way that I almost can’t even explain. For me, it’s really all about the scene partner with anything that I’m doing. It’s all about the energy from them and giving back whatever they give you. That’s where the magic of any comedy is, the unexpected moment that you can just roll with. I went to school for theatre and I’ve been acting since I was a kid so, on one hand, I really put the time in and did the work to have that foundation but I think it was improv and sketch comedy that prepared me in a way nothing else could.


I think the public doesn’t often realise that improv takes a lot of skill to successfully pull off. You’re working with another comedian or the audience itself, you’re listening to the crowd, and sometimes setting someone else up for the big laugh, there are so many things to consider. It also takes guts to do improv because it’s not easy to just get up on a stage in front of an audience and try to be funny. It must be a little scary as well as you’ll get hecklers from time to time. I would say improv is an art form. It surely toughens you as an entertainer as well.

That’s a great point. Finding my comedic voice or comedic gut–the one that I trust when I’m on set–through those years of being onstage and getting the immediate gratification–or not–of hearing the laugh from the crowd or the live energy, it’s undeniable that doing it for a decade made it so I felt ready once I got onto the set of The Good Place. I’ll be in a scene with Ted Danson, who I worship and I’m not in my head so much thinking “Is this going to work or not?” I have a foundation of knowing what I think is funny–or at least, knowing my comedic voice. This foundation of listening to and reacting to my fellow actor, whether it’s someone I’ve never met before or it’s a legend like Ted Danson, Henry Winkler, Jennifer Coolidge, or whatever, it makes it easier. The weird part of acting in Hollywood is getting to act with some of your heroes so it helps to be able to strip it away and have it just be about your scene partner and the words they’re saying.


If you work in the creative or entertainment industries in any sort of capacity, I think it’s important to occasionally reflect and acknowledge how far you’ve progressed. Particularly because the entertainment industry isn’t easy to break into and it’s often the case that you’ll work a ton of different jobs whilst pursuing your passions just to survive. I know you’ve worked a few jobs in the past, prior to landing acting roles and your breakout role as ‘Janet’ in The Good Place. How would you say playing the live virtual assistant has positively impacted your career?

I have so much gratitude for Mike Schur–the creator of the show–for letting me play that role and trusting me with it. I always tell him until we die I will never be able to thank him enough, he changed my life completely and so much of it was just about trust. He didn’t know who the hell I was and I just look back on those–I think there were three–auditions to play Janet, I remember thinking “These are going so well. I know I’m not going to get it. It’s going to go to somebody who’s been on TV a million times, who’s famous or whose name I know. It’s not going to be me but it’s going so well, I love this role, and I’m really liking all these people”. It was just such an interesting experience. The fact that he trusted a real unknown also proves he’s so competent and knows what he wants. 

Getting to play Janet has changed my life, I can’t explain it. Before I was on The Good Place, I was acting a ton but at some point, you want to be able to pay your bills through acting and stop taking all those extra jobs that make it so you can’t act so it’s a long struggle, a long road. Any actor would say the same and you have to find the joy in what you’re doing whether it is in-between waitressing jobs or babysitting jobs or whatever but part of it can just be so demoralising. It can get to you and that’s why it’s so easy to give up, it’s easy to be like “I can’t do this anymore”. I know that feeling. It’s hard to even articulate because I’m so grateful. It still feels like it was a minute ago that Janet came my way and the fact it’s five or six years later and we’re talking about a move with Jennifer Lopez, I just can’t believe my luck. I feel so grateful. It’s such a game of luck but also preparation and doing the work, there are so many talented people out there so I never take it for granted.


You must hype yourself up though, yes there is an element of luck but it’s also down to your talent and worth ethic. Even though you had many roles before The Good Place, it feels like this was the show where your talents were recognised on a national/international level. It’s very cool.

I would have been happy with any job, never mind the fact it was a Mike Schur show starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. It was extra lucky for me because, again, I would have been happy with any job on any old channel playing any old character, I would have begged for it. But this was kind of the best of the best. It was something that as a viewer I would have been so excited to watch so it was such a spotlight. It’s not lost on me that it also was a case of luck, it’s luck that people liked it, watched it, and it resonated with them. 



It’s all thoroughly deserved and I’m very glad you continued to push through/persevere. As I know it’s often the case where we have those moments of doubt before ‘the big break’.

I really love acting, if I didn’t I would have given it up a really long time ago when things weren’t going well. It’s what I want to do every day and I feel so lucky when I get to do it. It’s been a really great five or six years but the truth is, it was really great before that. Getting to do weirdo comedy in a basement with my friends at like two in the morning was a cool life too. It was harder to pay my bills or to go out to a restaurant or buy a winter coat, for example, but it was also an incredible time in my life. I feel really grateful to be part of a community of actors and comedy actors that have all come up together. Sometimes in hindsight, you’re like “Wow, that was really great” but it’s hard and it’s a struggle. I just feel really lucky to have found my spot. 


You’re a big music fan and I’m can’t imagine how many journalists you’ve had to tell the Smashing Pumpkins-related reason for the spelling of your name. So instead let’s talk about who you love at the moment artist/band-wise?

I’m listening to a lot of women right now. Sometimes my ears just want to hear girls so I’m listening to a lot of Waxahatchee, Phoebe Bridgers, Boygenius, First Aid Kit and a lot of SZA. There have been so many Female artists in my ears recently, it’s been really nice.


One more question related to music, hypothetically – who would you love to star as in a biopic? and who would you like to see biopics made on? I can imagine we’ll see features about Donald Glover, Harry Styles, Haim and more in the future….

It’s so wild to think about it. It will be such a trip to see a biopic of someone that I know. I know I’m going off-topic here but my mom and dad were in the music industry in the 70s and 80s and I remember when almost famous came out. There were some characters in that movie that my parents knew and I remember them just being very tripped out by Ben Fong Torres, Lester Bangs, and some other characters. It was people they had come up with so to then see actors playing them in a movie, I remember they were tripped out by it and I’m sure that will happen for me in the future. 

When I was younger, I remember being told a couple of times that I looked like Angelica Houston. I think I look less like her as I’m ageing though. Also, to play her I would have to be like 20 now so I don’t think that would really work. I don’t think we’d be starting an Angelica Houston biopic at age 40. A movie about the Haim girls would be amazing because they started as a young family band so you would see all the different ages. I would really like to see that. Those One Direction boys are really good too, a movie about the making of them and then the breakup. This is all in the future though, when we’re old and grey, of course. Who do you think would be a good choice for a biopic?


There are too many artists to pick from. I’m aware that a biopic is being made about Amy Winehouse but that could go either way, we’ll see how that turns out.

I know, I’m with you, what a life and what a talent but they have to get it right.


Speaking about more recent acting projects, you starred in A League Of Their Own as baseball player Greta Gill, last year. The show has gone down really well in the States. It’s being celebrated for its LBGTQ+ representation and for being an interesting reimagining of the original 90s film. As a fan of the original film and as you used to play the beloved sport growing up, what new tricks did you learn when preparing for the role? 

It’s funny because I’m just realising that England of course doesn’t have baseball. It’s so American which is very interesting. We’ll do A League Of Their Own but the cricket league next season [laughs]. For the movie, we practised with real baseball coaches and they were incredible. They’re a bunch of professional baseball coaches who took the time to teach a bunch of actors how to play baseball. Some of us knew, and some of us didn’t but what I learned is that when you play sports as a kid, you just learnt to play the way the local dad who is the coach plays.

Even though I played, I had all these bad habits that I’m sure the coach when I was ten or eleven taught me. I can throw and hit and all that stuff but when it came to being on camera, you’re supposed to be a professional baseball player so that’s when tiny things like where your elbow is placed or how far out to swing the bat came in, weird little technical things that I was technically getting wrong. It was working for me but it just wasn’t correct. It was fun to sort of perfect–although Greta Gill certainly isn’t a perfect baseball player–and get into the tiny details of which way your foot should turn. Because it was going to be on camera, we really had to get that type of stuff right.


The reaction to the show online has been so positive. As you know Baseball isn’t big over here in the UK but it is so nice to see a programme which first of all focuses on a primarily female-based sports team, it is amazing. Especially as a lot of sports or sports-related programming is often male-dominated.

It’s such a funny thing, the things we’re used to. Why the hell are we only watching men play sports? We should be watching women’s sports too as there’s so much out there.


Finally, we’ve reflected on your career so far in this interview but what would be some dream projects you’d love to work on moving forward? Is there anything exciting in the pipeline? 

The thing I always think about with a ‘dream career’ is that I want to do the opposite of whatever I just did which could mean anything. When The Good Place was wrapping up Ted Danson and I were having coffee on a break and he said “Whatever you do next, have it be as far away from Janet as possible” and I was like, “Tell me Ted, I will listen to anything you say”, his career is incredible, I would be lucky to have a quarter of his career. I thought that was great advice and it’s exactly how I feel. I’ve done a very fun, hilarious, comedy about bowling starring Susan Sarandon, I don’t know when it will come out but it was just a hard comedy. It was so fun to do so when I was done, my instinct was “okay, now I need to cry on set, to find a character who is sad”. You just want to push the exact opposite of whatever it was you were just doing which keeps it interesting and keeps you from getting stuck in a corner. I would like to do a gigantic action movie, a Shakespeare drama, or a tiny little indie drama. If the script is good and the characters are interesting, there’s nothing I’d want more.


Shotgun Wedding is out now on Amazon Prime Video. Follow D’Arcy Carden @darcycarden

Interview by Cameron Poole

Photography by Tina Turnbow


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