John Legend knew Tiffany Haddish was destined for stardom the minute he saw her act at a comedy club.
“I told [my wife] Chrissy [Teigen], ‘I feel like she’s gonna be famous,'” Legend said.
Legend and Haddish were among the stars who sat down to chat for Variety and PBS SoCal KOCE’s eighth season of “Actors on Actors.” The Emmys edition of the show features pairings from hit TV programs like Haddish’s “The Last O.G.” and Legend’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”
During their interview, Legend told Haddish about how he became involved with “Jesus Christ Superstar,” an opportunity he couldn’t resist as soon as he received the call from NBC.
“When somebody calls you up and says, ‘We want you to play Jesus Christ in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ live on NBC, Easter Sunday,’ that’s pretty attractive — that’s pretty appealing,” Legend said. “It’s a challenge to do it. A lot of people are gonna be watching, and it’s some pressure on, but I felt like, I gotta do it.”
The pair discussed the significance of casting a black actor in the role of Jesus onscreen, as both agreed representation of the religious figure as a person of color is rare.
“I didn’t know if they had ever had another black Jesus in a major production of it before, but I knew how we’ve seen Jesus historically, and if you look at so many representations you’ve seen of him, most of the time he’s white,” Legend said. “It was nice to show people that we could see someone of brown skin playing Jesus.”
Haddish, in turn, talked about playing Shay on TBS’ “The Last O.G.” with Tracy Morgan. The actress, who got her start as a standup comedian, said that while the filming experience has been rewarding, not having the response of a live audience has been a new challenge.
“I need the instant gratification,” Haddish said. “I might be an attention whore a little bit. When I was doing ‘The Carmichael Show,’ we had a live studio audience. That was great because it was immediate.”
The Emmy Award-winning series will air in two episodes on PBS SoCal KOCE, the first on Tuesday, June 19 at 7 p.m. and the second on Thursday, June 21 at 7 p.m. Both episodes will stream on pbssocal.org following their premieres.
Other couplings for Season 8 of actors on actors include Issa Rae and Michael B. Jordan; Laura Dern and Angela Bassett; Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy; Jason Bateman and Bill Hader; Debra Messing and Sharon Stone; J.K. Simmons and Edie Falco; Alison Brie and Jessica Biel; Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jonathan Groff; Frankie Shaw and Sara Gilbert; Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney; Darren Criss and Mandy Moore; David Harbour and Kyle MacLachlan; and Dakota Fanning and Freddie Highmore.