William Jackson Harper Says He’s Definitely Up for Playing Reed Richards – But the Idea ‘Fills Me With a Lot of Dread’

“That’s a lot to live up to. You have to really think about that sort of thing,” Harper told TheWrap

Marvel Studios

Whenever a new casting announcement is made in the MCU, the wild speculation begins immediately, and that was certainly the case for William Jackson Harper in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” For many, the hope was that he’d be introduced as Reed Richards, leader of the Fantastic Four. And for what it’s worth, the “Good Place” actor would be open to that — but the idea admittedly terrifies him.

In reality, Harper ended up playing Quaz, an entirely new character, with no basis in the comics. Quaz is a telepath who lives in the quantum realm, and is part of the freedom fighters working to escape the rule of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). And really, Harper was totally fine with that; he was just happy to see the inner workings of a Marvel movie.

That said, he certainly did see the rumors and hopes of him playing Reed Richards before he exited social media. In fact, they were part of why he exited.

“I just remember thinking, like, I want so badly to clarify things for people,” Harper told TheWrap. “You know, I’m just a nerd who wants to be in this world. I really am not too finicky about waiting for a specific character, or, you know, because who knows when they’re coming? Marvel is not consulting me about what I want to play, they do what they’re gonna do. And then maybe I get to come into play.”

He continued, “So I just remember being like, ‘Ah, I want so badly to clarify this, but I can’t say anything. There’s nothing I can say!’ And so I was like, I need to just hop off of this entirely and just you know, [puts fingers in ears] that ‘Lalalalala!’ Like people will go and watch it, and they’ll have their opinions. And I just, I can’t be affected by that. So yeah, I remember all of the theories and the excitement and all that stuff. And I was just like, ‘Well, guys, it’s not that, it’s something else.’”

Of course, some fans are still hoping Harper might return to the MCU as Mr. Fantastic, considering there are plenty of actors who have pulled double duty in the franchise. Gemma Chan, for example, appeared as two different characters, first in “Captain Marvel” and then in “Eternals.”

And for what it’s worth, Harper is certainly open to the idea — but he’d really have to take a beat to consider it.

“You know, I gotta be honest, that fills me with a lot of dread,” he said. “You know? I mean, like, it would be cool, I’d be open to it, of course. But like, yeah, that’s a lot to live up to. You have to really think about that sort of thing.”

“I think that maybe if you’re not an actor, playing a character who does have a history in sort of, like, the culture and the zeitgeist and whatever, you know, it seems like a ‘Hell yeah, I’m doing that!’” he continued. “But I think as someone who like — you know, people get granular about these characters and how they want them rendered. And you’re signing up for some stuff that could be tough. And so I would have to think about that. But of course, it’s like, I am a big old nerd, and I really do like these movies, and any chance to be involved, it sounds great to me. So yeah, of course open to it, but definitely something that would frighten me.”

For now, he was happy to just come play in the Marvel sandbox at all and see how these movies get made.

“Honestly, just the scale of it all, and how much of it was practical,” he said, when asked to pick one favorite element. “We went into a soundstage, where this entire quantum village was constructed for the most part. There’s some things that are added, but a lot of it was there to interact with.”

“And I think working on something of that scale is new to me, and I was just sort of like, ‘Yyyo!’ You know, when you walk into a soundstage that big, covered in dirt, and structures, and oceans of people that literally look the way they look in the movie. It’s not just made up, that’s how they looked when I saw them. And just thinking about all the effort and the time that the crew had to put into making this world. It’s sort of a, it’s a real — I’m trying not to drop an F bomb — but you know what I’m saying. It really is a mind blank.”

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is now in theaters.