God Friended Me is a high concept show, or rather a higher power concept. Atheist podcaster Miles (Brandon Micheal Hall) gets a friend request from an account called God. The God account suggests other friends for Miles who may need help.
Joe Morton plays Miles’ father Arthur. Arthur is a pastor so he’s been estranged from his atheist son, but this possible divine intervention reconnects them. Morton spoke with reporters after a TCA panel for God Friended Me, which airs Sundays at 8pm ET/PT on CBS.
Were you looking to play a preacher at any point in your career?
Joe Morton: “No, it wasn’t on the wish list. I was really just simply looking for a character that was nothing like Rowan.”
Is there a type of role on the wish list?
Joe Morton: “There is a book that I’ve read, written by Walter Mosley, that I’m hoping to do at some point. It’s a wonderful detective story. It’s not the Easy [Rawlins] character. It’s a completely different character. It’s a wonderfully written book and maybe I’ll get a chance to do that.”
What is your character’s take on God friending his son on Facebook?
Joe Morton: “Well, one, he says it’s not God. I have to sort of take him at his word. I also don’t believe that it’s God either. Why would God use social media? So, I think the struggle for Arthur is how do you deal with your atheist son when you’re a preacher? And how do you maintain the love between you and your son even though his belief is diametrically opposed to yours?”
How much have you thought about the period where they haven’t been talking? How many times do you think he’s almost attempted to contact Miles?
Joe Morton: “I think he thinks about it all the time. Part of him has to think what did I do wrong as a father? Because my wife died when he was a young boy. I’ve raised him pretty much on my own, so what did I do wrong? Same with my daughter. She’s gay and for all of wanting to be the dad that accepts everyone, at the same time it’s not what he would have wished. I think he has to deal with how do I reconcile who I am with who they are?”
Does he have an opinion about her working in psychotherapy?
Joe Morton: “I think he thinks that’s great. I think he thinks that’s wonderful. I think both he and Miles understand that she’s the glue that holds the family together because we are so separate in our beliefs, that she is the one who keeps bringing us back together.”
We’ve seen the pilot. What’s episode two and beyond like?
Joe Morton: “They will be the kinds of things you’ve heard. I think the idea of the show will always be about the idea of connecting to somebody else, that you’re doing something positive because he’s never going to believe that this account was sent to him by God. He’s always going to think someone is doing this to me, it’s a joke. After all, maybe it’s not a joke but it’s going to be irritating.
There’ll be times where he’s going to think I don’t want to do this anymore, but he always ends up helping someone. We’re all talking about social media and the idea is everyone walks around with their heads in their phones. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pull your head up out of your phone and actually interact with someone and help them accomplish something.”
Does wanting to do something different from Rowan mean you’re opposed to reprising your role if there was a spinoff?
Joe Morton: “I don’t think there’s going to be a spinoff. Shonda was pretty clear that she always had a beginning, middle and end to Scandal. When it ended, it was ended. We, the cast, was trying to say well, maybe there’s a movie, but I don’t think so.”
Have you kept in touch with the cast?
Joe Morton: “Yes, we have a group text called The Whistlepigs so we stay connected. Katie is going to be in New York. She and her husband are doing Waitress. Kerry’s coming into New York to do a play and we all keep in touch. I did a play out here, did Henry IV with Tom Hanks and they all contacted me and came to see the play.”
Who would you like to see make a cameo on God Friended Me?
Joe Morton: “All of them. All of them would be great, would be terrific.”
God Friended Me will premiere on Sunday, September 30, 2018.