Jameela Jamil addresses “sexual tension” with Kristen Bell in The Good Place

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Kayleigh Dray
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Jameela Jamil and kristen bell in the good place

Jameela Jamil is beloved by fans all over the world, thanks to her incredible performance as The Good Place’s Tahani. And, yes, she’s all too aware of the fan-fiction being written about her and Kristen Bell’s characters…

It’s almost impossible to believe, but Jameela Jamil had never acted before being cast as Tahani al-Jamil in Mike Schur’s The Good Place. In fact, most Brits will know her from her TV presenting days (T4 and Freshly Squeezed, anyone?).

And yet, despite this lack of experience, Jamil has proven herself to be a seriously adept and intuitive comic actress – and fans all over the world have fallen in love with her character in the hit Netflix show.

Chatting to GQ earlier this year, Jamil says that when she signed up for the show she had no idea what it would be about, and wondered if she’d just signed a seven-year deal for “Mike Schur’s first porno.” 

Thankfully, the show – which sees Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a self-absorbed semi-bad woman, accidentally wind up in a Heaven-like utopia after her death – has proven a success and been met with critical acclaim, despite initial fears it was too “high-concept for America.”

A lot of this, Jamil says, is down to the on and off-screen chemistry of the cast, which she understands fans have honed in on – although they have interpreted the cast’s friendships in a slightly different way.

“I love the fact that [my character] and Eleanor [Bell] have this friendship and they kinda form a rivalry. If anything, it’s kind of a sexual tension that fans seem to have picked up on between me and Eleanor,” said Jamil. “Which is great.”

She continued: “I’ve been getting erotic fan fiction written about me, which is fascinating…

“I just love that all of them start with the same thing, which is that we always high-five and then our fingers clasp together and then with her other hand she starts playing with my hair. That’s always how it begins.”

It may be how the stories always begin, but it’s not how they always end (trust us, we found a whole stash of the stuff online). Essentially, the fan-fiction tends to suggest that Tahani and Eleanor semi-despise each other, but also sort of want to have hot hate-sex all over their seemingly-perfect neighbourhood.

Which means that, yes, it’s Pride & Prejudice – albeit with more strap-ons.

While Eleanor and Tahani’s relationship is pretty complicated on-screen, Jamil and Bell are firm friends in real life: in fact, Jamil credits Bell for teaching her everything she knows about acting. So, as you’d expect, she’s been keeping her co-star well and truly up-to-date with any fan-fiction developments, too.

“I texted Kristen Bell about it,” said Jamil. “She thought it was hilarious, and I think she’s all for it.

“Her character is openly attracted to my character throughout both seasons. So, you know, maybe season three.”

Speaking of which, The Good Place will return for its third season on 27 September. And, as has been the case in the past, it’s expected that the first episode (a special hour-long treat) will air in the US on that date and will then appear on Netflix UK the following day (28 Sep).

You can find out everything you need to know about the new season (including plot spoilers, new characters and more) here.

Images: NBC

This article was originally published in January 2018.


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.