Bradley Whitford from “Handmaid’s Tale” to “Perfect Harmony” on NBC

Bradley Whitford — you just won an Emmy for your unhinged role as Commander Joseph Lawrence in the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale — what are you going to do next?

 How about starring as a Princeton music professor in NBC’s new feel-good singing sitcom Perfect Harmony!

PERFECT HARMONY stars Bradley Whitford as Arthur Cochran (Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC)

 Yep, it’s those kind of career choices that has kept Bradley Whitford from being type-cast over the years. The versatile actor attended the Juilliard School for drama, and his career was launched when he made his television debut in an episode of The Equalizer, the acclaimed drama in 1985. The Revenge of the Nerds II film followed, but mostly he took on dramatic parts in movies and TV, with a few comedies, action, and sci-fi sprinkled in the mix.

 The variety of Whitford’s credits has assured that he doesn’t get pigeonholed. He explained, “Getting typecast is kind of a compliment, but also a prison, because it means you did that one thing well. Unfortunately in Hollywood if you do something well, that’s all they want you to do because there’s a lot of money at stake. You always get typecast by the last thing that you did. So I want to do completely different kinds of acting from one project to another.”

 Whitford’s big break came with his portrayal of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman in The West Wing. He scored three consecutive Emmy nominations from 2001 to 2003, winning in 2001. Whitford won the Guest Actor in a Comedy Emmy for Transparent in 2015, playing a cross-dressing businessman. His comedy chops have also come out with a recurring role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine as Andy Samberg’s dad. He’s even embraced the horror genre in Jordan Peele’s Oscar nominated film Get Out in 2017.

Anna Camp & Bradley Whitford (Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC)

 Now he stars with perky songbird Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect) in NBC’s sweetly uplifting comedy Perfect Harmony, a show about finding inspiration in the most unlikely places. It follows former Princeton music professor Arthur Cochran (Whitford) who unexpectedly stumbles into a choir practice at a small Kentucky town church. He finds a group of singers who are out of tune in so many ways. But despite the ultimate clash of sensibilities, Arthur and his new community of friends may just be the perfect mix to create happiness in all of their lives—just when they all need it most.

 Whitford turns 60 on October 10, 2019 and was at the Television Critics Association’s Summer 2019 press tour to talk about his new series and what it means to him at this point in his life.

 “I feel embarrassingly lucky about the acting opportunities I have,” he said sincerely. “I really wanted to do a comedy, and I knew I wanted to work with [executive producer] Jason Winer, who did one of my favorite comedies, and then I read the script from [creator/executive producer] Lesley Wake Webster. I thought it was personal, specific, genuine, and about something I think is helpful now, which is just how music can bring very different people together in a lovely way. I say all that pretentious stuff knowing that all that really matters is that it’s funny as hell.” 

 Playing a choir director, Whitford noted that he may be singing along at some point but there hasn’t been a lot of that in his credits. “I was in musicals at Juilliard, and I sang ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ in Saving Mr. Banks. Actually, I was raised Quaker, and one of the things I disagree with Quakers about is there’s no music. So I didn’t grow up in a church musical tradition.”

 Writer-producer Webster said it was important to her to set the story in a small town in Kentucky where she’s from, “because I feel it’s often misportrayed and I wanted to show that special sense of community you can get in a small town.”

 Whitford revealed that’s what attracted him to the show. I’m from the middle of the country [Madison, Wisconsin], and I get upset at the sort of condescending portrayals of it.”

Also starring with Bradley Whitford and Anna Camp are Will Greenberg, Geno Segers, Rizwan Manji, Tymberlee Hill, and Spencer Allport.

Perfect Harmony, a half hour feel-good comedy series, premiers September 26, and airs Thursday nights at 8:30 pm on NBC. Tune in.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.