Stephen Glover on ‘Atlanta’ Casting Kevin Samuels for Role Originally Intended for Steve Harvey

Stephen Glover told Complex that the character Kevin Samuels played on 'Atlanta' was originally intended to be portrayed by a very different celebrity.

Stephen Glover at an Atlanta premiere event

Image via Getty/JC Olivera

Stephen Glover at an Atlanta premiere event

Thursday, Atlanta concludes its third year with the Donald Glover-directed episode “Tarrare,” bringing to an end one of the most rewarding and provocative seasons of television in recent memory.

The season’s penultimate episode—the anthology entry “Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga”—received a great deal of attention due to the appearance of the late Kevin Samuels, who died this month at the age of 57. In an in-depth new interview with Julian Kimble for ComplexAtlanta writer and producer Stephen Glover opened up about a variety of topics surrounding the acclaimed series’ third season, including Samuels’ casting.

“I’m a Black man, so to me, Kevin Samuels isn’t that crazy,” he said of casting the controversial social media figure, whose views were often criticized as misogynistic. “He was an old Black man. I think we’ve all met some version of Kevin Samuels before in our lives. We probably have a family member who’s Kevin Samuels.” 

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As it turns out, the character Samuels played on Atlanta, “businessman/philanthropist/philosopher/Christian” Robert Shea Lee, was originally intended to be portrayed by Steve Harvey. That potential casting, however, ultimately fell through. 

Speaking further on Samuels’ casting, Glover addressed the extended criticism some might bring toward Atlanta itself in connection with the polarizing figure’s history.

“People are getting lazier, so I understand this idea of us putting Kevin Samuels [in an episode] must mean that we hate women, but actually Kevin Samuels did a really good job on this,” Glover told Complex. “I think as far as the bigger question of us hating women, we definitely don’t.”

The new Complex interview with Stephen Glover also includes insight from others behind Atlanta, including director Hiro Murai and Stephen’s brother, series creator Donald Glover. Get the full experience, including word that this season was actually written back in 2019, by heading here. And for a 43-second glimpse at Atlanta’s Season 3 finale, see below.

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