While speaking to ET, showrunners Sam Boyd and Rachelle Williams explain how they landed on the longtime actor known for iconic roles in Platoon, The Thing and most recently, on the Oprah Winfrey Network drama Greenleaf.
“His name was up there. There was a short list and we went through different ideas,” Williams says, explaining that they initially thought of a number of British people to voice Marcus’ thoughts in similar fashion to the way the English actress did for Anna Kendrick’s character, Darby. “I love British narrators. And so, we thought, ‘Should we get a British man?’”
But then after thinking about it more, Williams says it was a no-brainer. “It was like, ‘Duh. Keith David,’” she recalls. “He’s fantastic.”
Boyd, who also created the series, adds, “We were also just excited about him as someone who is so insanely talented in so many ways. Obviously, he’s hysterical when he shows up in comedies and he’s an incredible actor.” In addition to his dramatic work, he’s made a number of funny appearances in the likes of Barbershop and the NBC comedy Community, on which he also served as a narrator.
“He’s also done amazing work narrating a lot of documentaries, especially Ken Burns films that I always really loved,” Boyd says, referring to his voice-over work on The War and Muhammad Ali. (Funnily enough, David also parodied that work on a documentary-style episode of Community.)
“And so, being able to find a voice who could guide us through this story in ways where when we needed it to be funny, it could be funny. And when we needed it to ring true, it could ring true,” the creator continues. “Just being able to kind of harness his gravitas, we were very lucky to get to work with him on it.”
Of course, David isn’t the only notable addition to season 2 of Love Life. Rounding out the main cast is SNL star Punkie Johnson as Marcus’ sister, Ida; Chris “Comedian CP” Powell as his best friend, Yogi; and Jessica Williams as his on-and-off again love interest, Mia.
“Our cast is an actual embarrassment of riches, and the depth of that bench is truly a testament to Will and how eager everyone was to work with him,” the showrunners explain. “And with Will’s character, Marcus, being such a rigidly self-conscious person (at least at first), we wanted to surround him with characters who were already in touch with themselves, already at peace with who they are, and how they move through the world.”
In this case, “Ida and Yogi were meant to serve as points of contrast while Marcus works to drown out his self-consciousness and find the signal in the noise,” they add.
Also making appearances in recurring roles are Succession’s Arian Moayed as Marcus’ friend, Kian; Leslie Bibb as one of Marcus’ unexpected encounters, Becca, with John Earl Jelks and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's original Vivian, Janet Hubert, as Marcus’ parents, Kirby and Donna.
Other guest stars include Maya Kazan, Ego Nwodim, Kimberly Elise, Blair Underwood and Jordan Rock, with season 1 stars Zoë Chao, Peter Vack, Sasha Compére, Nick Thune as well as Kendrick briefly reprising their characters.
As Boyd previously told ET, their returns are purposeful, explaining that Love Life functions as a “shared universe” set in New York City, where there are “many stories happening at any given moment.” That said, Darby’s own story continues beyond season 1, with her life and story running parallel to what’s happening to Marcus.
“So, the ways that she and other first season characters weave in and out of this second season story” is something they plan to replicate, Boyd said, with each new season “picking up with new people and exploring them just as thoroughly as we did with Darby and now Marcus.”
Love Lifeseason 2 debuts with three episodes on Thursday, Oct. 28. Want to watch more? New episodes premiere Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 while season 1 is now streaming on HBO Max. (We may receive an affiliate commission if you subscribe to a service through our links.)