Atlanta, true to form, just keeps getting weirder with each episode of this season. In last night’s “Teddy Perkins,” an extended, commercial-free episode, Darius went off to pick up a piano from a big, creepy mansion occupied by one Teddy Perkins. Perkins, as it turns out, is a mysterious tragic figure who lives alone with his darker-skinned musician brother Benny — at least he claims he has a brother — and speaks in a reedy, thin voice about various tragedies in his life. He’s also got strangely pale skin and what look like fake eyebrows, and if we’re being totally honest, that’s definitely Donald Glover in whiteface, right? (The episode only credits Teddy Perkins “as himself,” but you can see Glover’s distinct mannerisms in the performance.) Everyone watching, as you might expect, was freaked the hell out.
Well, your suspicions were correct – that was Donald Glover in whiteface on last night’s Atlanta! Actor Derrick Haywood, who played Benny Hope in the episode, confirmed the news to Vulture. “Initially, I had no idea that Teddy Perkins was actually played by Donald Glover,” he says. Not only did Glover play Teddy, he transformed into Teddy on set, staying in character as the shady figure – pasty makeup, wig, high-pitched voice and all – between scenes. “The director [Hiro Murai] called ‘Teddy’ over [on set] and said, ‘Let’s see what Teddy thinks.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, who is this Teddy guy and why is his opinion so important?’ When I say this guy was in character the whole time, it was just amazing the commitment he brought. We were calling him Teddy, he acted as Teddy – there was no Donald on set whatsoever.”