There were plenty of vibes felt throughout last week’s episode of Atlanta, especially with the presence of Teddy Perkins, a painfully deranged loner who tricks Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) into visiting his home. Fans suspected Donald Glover to be the man behind Perkins’ whiteface but Derrick Haywood, who played Perkins’ brother Benny Hope, shared with Vulture how things were just as terrifying on the Atlanta set.
Haywood says he originally had no clue Glover was Teddy Perkins since everyone approached the eerie “actor” as Mr. Perkins. “I was on set, and the director [Hiro Murai] called “Teddy” to come over and said, “Let’s see what Teddy thinks.” I’m like, “Okay, who is this Teddy guy and why is his opinion so important?” he said. “Because I had never heard of the guy before. Later, going through and watching, when I say this guy was in character the whole time on set — it was just amazing the commitment he brought to the character.”
In addition to embodying the tortured character in front of the camera, Glover remained in hair, makeup and the personality of Perkins behind the scenes. “There was no Donald on set whatsoever,” Haywood said. “Before I even found out it was him, one of the assistants on set told me to go and talk to “Teddy” and ask him for some direction about Benny’s mannerisms. So he’s sitting on the couch and I’m like, “Uh, Teddy, how you doing?” That conversation was quite weird. Again, I didn’t know the guy. I was introduced to him the night before at the fitting, but I didn’t know it was Donald. And obviously, he didn’t want you to know.
Haywood’s character also got the same bleaching-like makeup treatment since they were meant to be brothers who had the same skin condition. Perkins character, while creepy, also brought about the longtime relationship between child abuse and fame. The Atlanta team got the jokes off, but also pointed towards polarizing father figures in pop culture like Joe Jackson and Marvin Gaye Sr. “You’re saying your father used to beat you so you’d be good at piano,” Darius says at one point of the episode. “To be good at life,” Teddy says while adding, “Great things come from great pain.”
The many lessons and easter eggs in the episode give Teddy Perkins a deeper meaning and worth re-watching a few times. It’s also spawned many theories including that Teddy was actually the Benny Hope character or possibly the man in the wheelchair was actually Benny’s father.
Check out the revealing interview here.