Interview: Leslie Odom Jr. Teases Season Two of CENTRAL PARK!

The series will return to Apple TV Plus for a second season on June 25th, 2021. 

By: Jun. 22, 2021
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Interview: Leslie Odom Jr. Teases Season Two of CENTRAL PARK!

Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. has had an incredible professional year.

After his Academy Award-nominated performance in the film adaptation of "One Night in Miami," Odom has signed on to several high-profile film projects, including the hotly-anticipated sequel to Rian Johnson's "Knives Out."

The "Hamilton" star also plays Owen Tillerman in musical animated series "Central Park," which will return to Apple TV Plus for a second season on June 25th, 2021.

In season two of "Central Park," created, written and executive produced by Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad and Nora Smith, the Tillerman family continues to navigate living in and caring for the world's most famous park.

Molly (Emmy Raver-Lampman) experiences the trials and tribulations of adolescence, Cole (Tituss Burgess) is challenged by a truly embarrassing moment at school, Paige (Kathryn Hahn) continues to chase down the Mayor's corruption story, and Owen (Leslie Odom Jr.) juggles managing the park, his staff, and his family all with a smile on his face.

Meanwhile, Bitsy (Stanley Tucci) inches ever closer to her sinister goal of claiming Central Park as her own; with Helen (Daveed Diggs) by her side, eternally wondering whether she's made it into Bitsy's will. Every step of the way, we are guided along by our friendly, fumbling, fiddler narrator, Birdie (Josh Gad).

BroadwayWorld had the pleasure of speaking to Leslie about voice acting, building ensembles, and what he's most excited about now that Broadway is on its way back.

Read the full interview below!

I absolutely loved the first season of "Central Park." Could you tell me what you love about Owen Tillerman and his family?

I love how joyful he is - unabashed joy. His limitless, boundless joy. I love that he's always coming from kindness, and I love that there is kind of an invisible fifth chair that's always at their dining room table that's for you. That's for the audience. It's an invitation week in and week out to be a part of this family, and to be a part of their adventures.

What's in store for the family this season?

It's been a while since I recorded the season, forgive me! It was the beginning [of the pandemic] - I think we finished recording these episodes in July of last year. We're already in season three, which is a real gift, that Apple keeps giving us the chance to get better. I think there were real moments of magic in season one, and all we did was we tried to double down on those moments. We tried to multiply them for season two.

We all tried to get better at our jobs!

You have the chance to work with some amazing songwriters and musicians on this show. Without giving too much away, can you tell me about what musical moments you're excited about from this season?

I know episode two is the Mother's Day episode, and that opens with a really fun song with me and the kids talking about how we're gonna celebrate Paige for the day. My memory is fuzzy for a lot of the episodes, but I do know that you meet Owen's mother this season, and that was great fun. She's voiced by a Hollywood legend. You get to meet the person who is at least half of the reason, half-responsible for this guy that I care about so much - that I've grown to care about so much. I loved meeting her, and seeing how they complement one another, and seeing how he came to be.

There's a lot of variance between different animated projects in terms of who's in the recording studio with you. Do you record "Central Park" as a group, or is it more of a solitary experience?

Especially in the pandemic, we don't get to record together. We do a lot solo, but you have the great writers and showrunners and producers on our show who help direct, and help make sure we're all in the same world tonally.

And we've gotten to know one another through watching the show! Because I'm a fan of the show, too. I have Tituss' voice in my head. Unfortunately, I have Josh's voice in my head. I have Kathryn's voice in my head [laughter]. So there's also that - as we get to know one another, we can hear what our castmates might do with the turn of a phrase.

It's interesting to hear how you build that rapport. You come from musical theatre, which is all about ensemble building. I feel like voice acting and animation is also very much a team effort. How are they similar? How are they different?

I'm not limited by the laws of physics [in animation]. I'm not limited by the boundaries of my own body, or skeletal structure. I really get to transform as Owen, and I get to be outlandish and ridiculous with my voice. And his arms can stretch, and his face can do things that mine can't, and it's really fun in that way!

But, yeah. I've had a lot of practice, now, over the years, in trying my best to be a useful member of a winning ensemble. It kind of started with "Hamilton," and it went on to "Murder on the Orient Express," and "One Night in Miami," and "Central Park," and now I'm in "Knives Out 2," so it's kind of my happy place. When it's not all on my shoulders - when I get to really learn from the people around me, and figure out a way to make an offering.

It's so special to be part of this show that's about the magic of New York as New York is starting to come back. What has the last year been like for you, and what are you looking forward to as things slowly start to get back to normal?

I'll tell you, I'm most excited to buy a ticket. To buy a ticket to an off-Broadway show! Like, are you kidding me? I'm not greedy. I'm not greedy! I want to be in a small room again, laughing and being inspired by the daring work of some of the best actors in the business in New York City. That's what I'm most excited about - I want to buy a ticket to see some shows.

Watch the trailer for season two of "Central Park" here:

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