Donald Glover Was So Deep In Character As Teddy Perkins That His ‘Atlanta’ Co-Star Had No Clue It Was Him

FX’s Atlanta, one of the best TV shows to premiere in the 2010s, came to an end last night. It’s hard to pick the single episode that best represents Donald Glover’s surrealist comedy, but it might be the one where Darius meets a bleached-skin, Michael Jackson-like weirdo while trying to pick up a free piano. It’s #1 on IMDb, at least.

Following the series finale, Rolling Stone published a series retrospective with Hiro Murai, who directed “Teddy Perkins” and many of the best episodes of Atlanta. He discussed the genesis of the Teddy Perkins episode.

“[Glover and composer Ludwig Göransson] were talking about either Michael Jackson or one of the musicians who’s had skin bleaching or other work done. And Ludwig just said something like, ‘Imagine how terrifying this would be if you turned around in a dark alley and he was just standing there.’ So it started from this one-off aside, and we took that and blew it out into this horror movie/existential character study on what it is to be in popular music as a Black man.”

Teddy Perkins was played by Glover, who stayed in character the whole time. “We referred to him as ‘Teddy’ the whole shoot,” Murai said. “[Lakeith Stanfield] didn’t know who Teddy was for the first three days of shooting, and nobody would tell him. He was so uneasy! He basically interrogated every crew member to figure out who he was. And every time he asked me, ‘Who is this dude?’ I go, ‘It’s Teddy. We got the real guy.’”

Teddy (no longer played by Glover under all that makeup) even showed up at the Emmys, where Atlanta took home six trophies over four seasons. It deserved a lot more.

I’ll miss you the most, Farmer Paper Boi.

paper boi

(Via Rolling Stone)