Fea­ture

Esquire (Singapore) - - Port­fo­lio -

2013’s Clap­ping for the Wrong Rea­sons, Mu­rai said, a short he and Glover made about a rap star aim­lessly mov­ing from room to room in his man­sion on some coast, drift­ing among the friends and pos­ses­sions he’d col­lected.

Atlanta also messed with TV con­ven­tions, slyly plant­ing sur­re­al­ist notes—a black Justin Bieber and an in­vis­i­ble car—into an al­ready-wink­ing show. It de­vel­oped, Glover told me, as a re­sult of hang­ing out with his brother Stephen, who’s also a writer for the show. “I started see­ing more of the world and get­ting in more ar­gu­ments and talk­ing about more shit. Like black women telling me: ‘ Black men don’t do shit for us.’ I’m like: ‘Damn, you re­ally feel that way?’ And they’re like: ‘One hun­dred per­cent’.”

The suc­cess of the first sea­son was great for Glover, but he’s aware the sec­ond sea­son has a lot to live up to. The first day back on set, Mu­rai told me, “felt like Bizarro World”. They took such a long hia­tus that they’d for­got­ten, at least at first, how to make the show. “It feels like it grew into some­thing else. It’s a lit­tle more short-story-ori­ented.”

“I tried to do the Q-Tip take on it,” Glover said, re­fer­ring to the co-founder of A Tribe Called Quest. “Af­ter their first al­bum, he was like, ‘ I’m kick­ing this sopho­more-slump shit in the ass.’ ”

Glover said it was good to be back in the neigh­bour­hoods that make up Atlanta’s set. “It felt like we could walk through the hood and peo­ple knew who we were.” And then there’s the night they were shoot­ing in Bankhead. “Shots started pop­ping off. Like, pop, pop, pop, pop,” Glover said. The cast and crew stood around, un­cer­tain, un­til they heard faster re­turn fire. “I wasn’t hear­ing it hit the leaves yet. Some­times you hear a gun­shot”—here he ap­prox­i­mated the sound of, well, bul­lets hit­ting leaves— “where you know it’s fuck­ing close.” No one on set wanted to wait to hear that sound. Ev­ery­one got low and went in­side; pro­duc­tion was can­celled for the night.

“That’s part of the respect,” Glover said. “If you go in the ocean, you have to respect the ocean. You know that you can drown. I don’t want peo­ple to think life is a fuck­ing Dis­ney­land, and we’re work­ing, like, ‘Isn’t it cool that peo­ple live this way?’ It’s not.”

Over din­ner, Glover told me that he gets anx­ious when he’s close to some­thing real. “I know sea­son two of Atlanta is some­thing be­cause it makes me ner­vous.” Bul­lets-whip­ping-through­leaves ner­vous.

Glover was born

in 1983 and raised in Stone Moun­tain, Ge­or­gia, the site of the largest Con­fed­er­ate me­mo­rial in the U S. “If peo­ple saw how I grew up, they would be trig­gered,” he said. “Con­fed­er­ate flags ev­ery­where. I had friends who were white, whose par­ents were very sweet to me but were also like, ‘Don’t ever date him.’ I saw that what was be­ing of­fered on Sesame Street didn’t ex­ist.”

When he was 11, Glover wrote him­self a let­ter: “I’m gonna try and I’m gonna save the world.”

Though his par­ents raised him as a Je­ho­vah’s Wit­ness—a faith that has strict pro­hi­bi­tions on pop cul­ture—Glover says Star Wars oc­cu­pied a rare space in his home. It was im­por­tant enough that his dad took him out of school to see the pre­quels. He re­mem­bers bit­ing the lightsabre off his Darth Vader ac­tion fig­ure when he was a kid, but re­calls his blue-caped Lando Cal­ris­sian fig­urine even more in­tensely. Un­til the Jedi Mace Windu came along in 1999’s The Phan­tom Men­ace, Lando was the only black per­son in the Star Wars uni­verse. In the orig­i­nal tril­ogy, Lando goes from a fiercely in­de­pen­dent smug­gler try­ing to avoid the Em­pire’s scru­tiny to a gen­uine hero who saves Princess Leia, Han Solo, C-3P0, Chew­bacca, Luke Sky­walker and R2-D2. “I had a doll that I slept with—the only black doll in the store—that my mom bought for me. And my dad bought me Lando,” Glover said.

Some years ago, he heard a ru­mour that a movie fea­tur­ing Lando was in the works. “I told my agent: ‘I wanna be Lando,’ ” but his agent didn’t like his chances. “That was ex­actly what I needed to hear,” Glover told me, “be­cause I’m the per­son who’s not sup­posed to make it, so much so that I don’t think peo­ple

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