While The Good Place fans will recognize D’Arcy Carden as the always-upbeat, decidedly nonhuman personal assistant Janet, the actor has taken on some exciting new roles in recent years, including a recurring gig as aspiring actress Natalie Greer on Barry and a stint as Greta Gill, 1940s-era professional baseball player and iconic lipstick lesbian, on Amazon’s new reboot of A League of Their Own.
Carden is a particularly bright spot in the latter show, which has many LGBTQ+ viewers whipped into a frenzy over whether Greta and Carson Shaw—a character played by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson—will make it. (You’ll have to watch the first season to see how that one plays out.)
Vogue recently spoke to Carden about enjoying the success of A League of Their Own, being recognized as Janet at airports, and a recent rowdy night out with the League cast at a baseball-themed bar in Los Angeles. Read the full interview below.
Vogue: First off, how are you feeling about the near-universal acclaim for A League of Their Own?
D’Arcy Carden: I’m feeling very warm. It’s such a nice reception. I don’t know anything about numbers, and I don’t really read reviews, so it’s not even an industry thing so much as just individual people, I guess. It feels like it’s kind of hitting a sweet spot with people, and that just feels so nice.
Were you a fan of Penny Marshall’s original A League of Their Own?
Yeah, totally. Huge fan of the original movie. I saw it in the movie theater with my family and was sort of blown away. I was going to say “gobsmacked,” but then I realized I’ve never said that word. [Laughs.] I was a sporty little kid, and seeing a movie with a bunch of grimy, dirty, beautiful women playing sports…my brain exploded. It really had a big impact on me, and then fast-forward years and years, and Abbi Jacobson and I, who have been friends for over a decade…I knew that she was going to make this show since around 2017, when I was working on The Good Place. There was never any talk of me being a part of it; I just knew deep down in my soul, “God, if all the stars aligned, that would be amazing.” And then everything just lined up. I really, really loved the pilot right away. I was like, “Yep, yep, yep. Absolutely.”
Was the show as fun to make as it is to watch?
We all really fell in love quickly and hard. Before we ever stepped foot on a set, or even did a table read or anything, we were playing baseball for months, and getting sweaty and dirty and watching each other improve in this sport. It really bonded us. I had totally forgotten about this thing that happened, where we had a wrap party, and then after the wrap party, a lot of us went out to a second bar to go dancing. We were all drinking a little bit, and I remember this guy sort of, I don’t know, did something weird? Like, he tried to flip up my skirt or something, and Roberta Colindrez and the rest of the actors went into action. It was a little bit like a baseball team fighting, and I remember being like, “Man, we’ve only shot a pilot together. We shouldn’t be this close. We shouldn’t be ready to kill for each other.” [Laughs.]
That makes me think of something. Have you ever been to the Short Stop, the bar by Dodger Stadium? It feels very A League of Their Own to me.
Oh my God, that’s where we were!
That is wild and extremely random. Speaking of the League cast, have you seen your castmate Kate Berlant’s one-woman show yet?
I’ve seen it in New York. She’s just, like, so beyond brilliant. The fun thing about having a friend like Kate Berlant is getting to be friends with a literal genius. It’s so insane. I get so overwhelmed. Like, I can’t believe you love me. How am I so lucky that, like, you even know my name? She’s a true, singular, brilliant mind and comedian and actor, and I just adore her. Getting to be an actor can be like the feeling that you had when you were a kid on a sports team or in a play, where you just sort of became obsessed with your team or cast or campmates. I think of those girls as my campmates.
How are you feeling about the upcoming fourth season of Barry?
Man, that show has been such a gift. It’s nice to have these people in my life who also happen to be some of the world’s best actors; you know, the idea that I get to actually act with Bill Hader and Henry Winkler is wild. The show has been this constant my life for, like, six years, and I’m just such a huge fan of it. I’m a small part on the show, but I was watching the Emmys and rooting for Barry because I love it and almost forgetting, “Oh yeah, I’m on that show.” [Laughs.]
I have to ask: do you still get recognized for your role as Janet on The Good Place?
I mean, the answer is yes. They still recognize me as Janet, all day, every day, everywhere I go; every airport, every restaurant, every grocery store. It’s lovely, it’s gentle. I think people probably feel more comfortable saying hi to me as Janet than they would a different actor; like, there’s something very warm and welcoming about Janet, where it’s almost like saying hi to Mickey Mouse. I’m honored to have gotten to play a character like that.