Atlanta's Donald Glover Went Method For His Teddy Perkins Character, And It Fooled Lakeith Stanfield

With Donald Glover's "Atlanta" finally returning for its long awaited season 3, it feels like everyone is taking a long walk down memory lane and indulging in some of their favorite "Atlanta" moments. And there are a lot for a TV show with such few episodes, with its tone and style ranging from the subversive to the surreal, from high anxiety to high comedy. But if I were to guess LaKeith Stanfield's favorite slice of the "Atlanta" peach pie, I could pretty confidently sum it up in two words.

Teddy Perkins.

If that name doesn't fill your heart with ... A truly indescribable feeling, let me take you back to the halcyon days of 2018. The character Teddy Perkins is the subject of an entire episode in the second season of the show (the episode is also named after him), in which Darius (Stanfield) meets Teddy when he shows up at his mansion to pick up a free piano that Teddy was advertising online. Teddy, who has very pale skin, an incredibly high voice, and a generally unsettling demeanor, manages to keep Darius around the mansion for a little bit, but things get far weirder and more sinister from there. The episode has a clear horror bent which makes it standout episode, both IRL and in your nightmares.

Most people know now that Glover himself donned those uncanny valley-esque prosthetics to play Teddy, but when they were shooting the episode, Glover purposfully made sure to hide that fact from Stanfield. As he told The Hollywood Reporter in a 2020 interview:

"I was like, 'Wow, this is a very interesting fellow.' I wanted to know more about [the actor], so I started asking him questions. And Donald had a whole history prepared. He was saying he's been acting for a long time. And I was like, 'That's funny, because this is a very small business ... I would not miss your face.'"

"Who the f*** is this guy?"

And according to what Stanfield has said in other interviews, this wasn't a casual prank. Glover made sure to be in character as Teddy at all times, not just when he was in front of the camera:

"... And they called 'cut' and it was Teddy, and when I saw him get makeup done, it was Teddy. I didn't see any prosthetics, so I didn't know. I had no idea who it was and I still don't quite know, so it was very weird for me."

Of course, the secret couldn't be kept forever, eventually Stanfield was able to unmask Teddy's identity like he was an old "Scooby Doo" villain:

"So I started asking around on the set, 'Who the f*** is this guy?' And then someone finally just spilled the beans, which now I'm kind of mad about, because I wish the illusion would've gone on a little longer."

Teddy Perkins may collectively haunt all of our nightmares (and make for one truly unforgettable episode of television), but Stanfield's story is also a fun reminder that pranks between friends are rad and that the truth is usually a bummer. Tell your loved ones harmless lies! Attach prosthetics to your face and unnerve the people you care about! Learn to keep a secret! And most importantly, have fun out there.