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‘Atlanta’: From Bibby to Van’s High Gal Pal, These Scene Stealers Took the Show to New Comedic Heights

Robert S. Powell and Gail Bean reveal the stories behind guest-starring on the FX comedy.

Robert S. Powell and Gail Bean, "Atlanta"

Robert S. Powell and Gail Bean, “Atlanta”


Inebriating Nadine

Amy Seimetz directed “Champagne Papi” and also encouraged the actors to improvise in certain situations. The opening scene that introduces the viewers to Van’s friends relied heavily on what came naturally to the actresses.

“That entire opening scene, about 85 percent of that is improv,” said Bean. “[Seimetz] was like, ‘I just love it… Talk like you guys would talk.’ So she allowed us to bring a lot of ourselves to it. It just worked. She wanted us to be there and have fun. And that’s what we did.”

Something that didn’t come naturally to Bean, however, was acting high. In the episode, Nadine is pressured into consuming a gummy edible at the party. Not used to taking any sort of substances, she immediately shows signs of being high and unable to deal with the sensation. Her resulting paranoid prompts her to call the police to report that she’s “dying.”

Read More:‘Atlanta’: Ranking Every Episode of Donald Glover’s Groundbreaking FX Comedy So Far

“I’m not a smoker. I’ve tried it a couple of times, but have never done edibles before in my life,” said Bean. “So I started asking people, “What is it with edibles? Is it the same as smoking weed?’ Everybody’s like, ‘No, it’s a completely different high.’ In regards to the seriousness of the incident, like calling the police and thinking I was going to die, I took those experiences from what other people told me, especially from what Zazie told me. She’s like, ‘You see a window. It’s like huh, I should jump out of it.’”

Bean also directly based her mannerisms while high on a friend of hers.

“One of my sorority sisters, she smokes,” she said. “I used to ask her every time I’d see her, I’d say, ‘Bitch, you high? Are you high?’ And she’d always say yes. So I really took a lot of how she would move her body — my character’s body movements and [the heavy] lids, my eyes, my slowness.”

Nadine ends up hanging out with Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) by the pool, where they discuss philosophy and how life might just be a simulation.

“We talked a little bit but not anything related to the scene, to be honest. We talked about his tattoos, we talked about where he’s from, where I’m from. We talked about regular life to make that bond and that chemistry,” she said. “In the scene, he went with me, I went with him in regard to wherever he went with the character,”

Life After Bibby and Nadine

Although Powell hopes that Bibby might return to “Atlanta” someday, he’s been busy with his stand-up and will appear in a stand-up special executive produced by Norman Lear. Meanwhile, the comedian is just happy that Bibby has made such an impression on the audience.

“Everybody says that they know Bibby, that Bibby is their uncle, their cousin, their brother, their daddy. Even women, even beauticians. I have met a thousand Bibbys,” he said. “People have called me requesting photos to go up in their beauty shops and barbershops, to give like Bibby Awards, if you steal somebody off or you did something that’s so bad. These are real requests.”

As for Nadine, on multiple occasions, Glover had mentioned that she could return to the show. Bean already has ideas about what her character could do.

“If I had my choice I would explore Nadine and Darius’ relationship, and Nadine and Van because now we’re starting to see that Van has come into her own,” she said. “Also, we’ve only seen intoxicated Nadine, inebriated Nadine. What is she like when she’s not on drugs? What is she like around guys? As one of Van’s close friends, what does Earn think of her?”

In the meantime, Bean has been working. She appears in Comedy Central’s “Detroiters,” which returns on Thursday, June 21, and in FX’s “Snowfall,” which returns for its second season on July 19.

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