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When The Morning Show returns for its second season, things are going to look a little different. As the season 2 trailer previously revealed, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) is no longer with The Morning Show following the events of the season 1 finale. And coming in to fill her shoes is Eric (Hasan Minhaj), a new anchor who… has a love of singing?
Below, EW has an exclusive clip of Eric and Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) performing an on-air musical number that's all about New Year's Eve. Plus, Minhaj opens up about how he got involved with the series and what to expect from him in season 2 (launching Sept. 17 on Apple TV+).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come to join The Morning Show?
HASAN MINHAJ: It's kind of a wild story. It was the weekend of my sister's wedding. My agent gives me a call and says, "Hey, I think there's this role you'd be perfect for. You've been playing a fake TV anchor for the past seven years of your life, I don't think this would be a stretch for you. Are you a fan of The Morning Show?" I said, "Of course, I loved season 1." He's like, "In season 2, a new co-anchor comes in to replace Alex Levy, we think you'd be really great for it, the only thing is, in the audition you have to sing and dance. Can you sing and dance?" I was like, "Not really." But what I mean by that is the way I can sing and dance is the same way like Barack Obama can sing or dance. Is he good? No. Is he bad? No. You're grading it entirely on effort alone. So I thought to myself, let me lean into the circumstances. How would Michael Strahan open a segment where he'd have to sing or dance? So I thought, okay, if I lean into the campiness of it, then it's just like dancing at a wedding. It's like, "Aw, the boys are trying, that's cute." I asked my sister, "Will you read these sides with me?" She's like, "Are you insane? We're getting ready to go to my reception dinner, ask Mom." My mom was really into it. We had to sing "Baby It's Cold Outside." She's not familiar with the context of the song or the general themes of the song, she finds it to be quite creepy. We played the music off my iPhone while we were getting ready for the wedding. I'm wearing my wedding suit. And we put it on tape and I got cast.
That's incredible. So then on the actual day, what went into filming the number? Did you have much rehearsal time?
I took it really seriously. It was my first day working with Reese, so I was in my hotel room the night before and I asked the choreographer to send me the choreography and let me do it all. I was doing the body rolls in my room. Because Reese is No. 1 on the call sheet. She's got like 50 things to do. When she came in I was like, "Okay I'm going to teach you the steps." I'm singing and dancing with America's sweetheart, I have to take this seriously. She came in, we blocked it together. The whole number was like three and a half minutes. We also sang the song. We had to go to the studio and lay down vocals. There's like this secret Morning Show Hasan Minhaj-Reese Witherspoon Christmas album that hasn't come out yet.
Outside of this number, how was Eric described to you? What made you want to take the role?
I just loved that he was coming in to shake things up on a well-established institution. When you see where the show leaves off in season 1 and where it picks up in season 2, so much of what we've been talking about in the background of what's happening right now socially and politically in this country when it comes to race relations in America, who gets a seat at the table, the backdrop of the 2020 election and COVID, it's a really fun sandbox to play in. Eric comes in as this guy with kind of a chip on his shoulder, he wants to climb the ranks at The Morning Show, and both Alex Levy and Bradley Jackson are on their back heels being like, "I need to regain my position at the network." I love the meta social commentary that's happening right now, where there's a lot of performers of color that are coming in that are joining these otherwise established franchises and putting their fingerprints on the American story and the American dream. That's what speaks to me. I just love that I get to do scenes where I piss off both Reese Witherspoon and Jen Aniston. It's pretty cool. My mom was calling me while we were shooting, she was like, "Did you get to do scenes with Rachel yet?"
Apple TV+ Hasan Minhaj and Reese Witherspoon on 'The Morning Show'
Had you been looking to join a drama?
After Patriot Act, I was looking for something that I felt like would be a really fun world to play in. I really wanted to join an ensemble cast and be a part of something that still allows me to have the flexibility to tour and do the projects that I'm doing, but then also stretches me a little bit rather than doing a traditional single-cam comedy. This seemed like a really fun world to play in, and the cast this season is just crazy. It's like I died and went to the bar at the Golden Globes. And I've never been invited to the Golden Globes, so I'm like, "This is great!"
Were you nervous at all?
Before I shot my scenes I called Chris Rock. I was like, "Chris, I'm really nervous," because he was doing Fargo. I go, "Chris, we're out of our element here." And he's like, "Listen, man, you already look like a news anchor. You look like someone who should be telling me what the five-day forecast is. Everybody else on that set actually has to act. Reese Witherspoon has to act. No disrespect, bro, but they're movie stars. You are not. They have to act. You kind of already look like you were reporting sports or weather in a B market and then you got called up." I'm like, "You're so right." Even if I mess this up completely, it will all look natural. Funny enough, my first day or wardrobe I just brought in all my suits from The Daily Show. I was like, "Just replicate these." Some of the suits that I wore on the show, I think I've worn similar suits in field pieces on The Daily Show.