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Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone Jammed Full of Incredible Guest Stars, From Steven Yeun to Topher Grace
Look out for these big stars during SYFY's July 4 Twilight Zone marathon.
From the moment Rod Serling shepherded the first episode of The Twilight Zone into our living rooms in 1958, it was not only a place to encounter the strange and unusual, but its anthology-style storytelling lent itself to cameos from the biggest stars of the day. Over the course of the franchise’s initial run, it was home to performances by Buster Keaton, Robert Redford, William Shatner, Julie Newmar, and more.
In 2019, Jordan Peele stepped into the narrator's role and brought us 20 new peeks into a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. During his tenure guiding us through the Zone, Peele managed to pack in a truly ridiculous number of great guest stars and cameos from some of our favorite genre actors.
Peele's revival of The Twilight Zone originally debuted on Paramount+, but you can now catch it on the official SYFY app or all day during SYFY's Fourth of July marathon of the show. Give it a watch, and when you do, keep an eye out for our favorite appearances from these beloved genre actors.
Topher Grace first entered the public consciousness by way of his performance as Eric Forman in That ‘70s Show. Shortly after the show’s finale, Grace appeared in Sam Raimi’s third Spider-Man movie as Eddie Brock and his violent alter ego, Venom. Grace later took a turn as Edwin in Predators and as Getty in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, not to mention an episode of Black Mirror, a show that's often compared to The Twilight Zone. More recently, Grace returned to the role that made him a household name in That ‘90s Show — but not before taking a trip to the Twilight Zone.
In the season two episode “Try, Try,” Claudia meets Marc Wheeler (Grace), with whom she’s instantly enamored. Turns out, there’s a reason for that. Marc has been caught in a time loop akin to Groundhog Day or Palm Springs, but he’s used that time in order to figure out how best to manipulate Claudia into falling in love with him. And, sometimes, just for fun, killing her. Only this time, she fights back.
Ginnifer Goodwin has turned in a diverse array of performances over the course of her career. She’s known for playing Margene Heffman, third wife of Bill Paxton in HBO’s Big Love and as Vivian Cash in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. She is also known to fans as Connie Baker in Mona Lisa Smile and as the voice of Judy Hopps in Zootopia. Genre fans might recognize her for her starring role as Mary and Snow White in the long-running fairy tale series Once Upon a Time, which also involved traveling to a world of imagination.
Goodwin starred in the eighth episode of The Twilight Zone, “Point of Origin” as Eve Martin, a well-to-do white woman with a Guatemalan housekeeper and nanny. When Martin agrees to allow the housekeeper’s grandson use her address so he can attend a better school, both women are captured and detained by government entities until their origin can be determined. And that origin might be even weirder than you expect.
Scott had an early role as Griffin “Griff” Hawkins, a temporary replacement villain in Boy Meets World. He later played the pivotal role of “Defiant Conn Officer” in Star Trek: First Contact as well as roles on Party of Five, The Aviator, Veronica Mars, Knocked Up, and as Derek the successful but antagonistic younger brother of Will Ferrell’s Brennan Huff in Step Brothers.
While already a regular player in television and big screen comedies, Scott really broke into the mainstream as Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation and later as Trevor the demon in another Michael Schur joint, The Good Place.
Scott helped set the tone for Peele's revival series with his starring role in the second episode, "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet." He’s a journalist on a flight heading to a new job when he discovers an abandoned MP3 player in the seatback pocket. He turns it on and listens to a podcast about the disappearance of Northern Goldstar Airlines Flight 1015, the very flight he happens to be on!
Morena Baccarin's appearances as Inara in Firefly and Serenity, and as Adria in Stargate cemented her position in the modern science fiction canon. She later played a starring role in the television reimagining of the classic alien invasion story V and, more recently, as Deadpool’s lost love Vanessa.
She entered the Twilight Zone in the second season episode “Downtime.” A giant orb appears in the sky causing everyone but Michelle (Baccarin), a hotel clerk, to freeze in place. She later learns that she is in a virtual reality game called SleepAway. It’s where people go when they’re sleeping to enjoy a second life in a shared simulation, where they can be anyone, without the limitations of the real world. She finds out she is actually a man named S. Phineas Howell, who had a heart attack and died in the real world. Now she’s faced with what it means, and what to do, when your existence is invented but feels very real to you.
Atlanta star Zazie Beetz had a supporting role as Dana, an analyst and emotional foil in Geostorm, but it was her roles as Domino in Deadpool 2 and Sophie in Joker that make her a genre icon. Beetz also lent her vocal talents to the character of Amber Bennett on the animated and bloody superhero show Invincible.
Beetz brought the first season of The Twilight Zone to a close in the finale episode, “Blurryman.” It’s a meta episode in which Beetz plays screenwriter Sophie Gelson, working on an episode of The Twilight Zone with Betty Gabriel and Seth Rogen. She’s working late on the set, reviewing footage, when a blurry figure appears in the background of several scenes of the episode. She goes looking for Jordan Peele to see if there’s something she doesn’t know, when she sees the Blurryman in the real world. By the time the credits roll she travels into the world of a classic Twilight Zone episode and discovers the true identity of the Blurryman.
George Takei is most famous for his role as Sulu on the original Star Trek series, but he’s had a long and prolific career, racking up more than 200 credits on IMDB stretching from 1955 to the present.
From The Six Million Dollar Man and Hawaii Five-O to Miami Vice, Takei was a mainstay of television for decades. In addition to working onscreen, Takei has enjoyed a long career as a voice actor on shows and movies like The Smurfs, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Mulan, Hercules, Batman Beyond, Samurai Jack, Adventure Time, Kubo and the Two Strings, and more. He also played a critical role as Kaito Nakamura, father of Hiro Nakamura, in NBC's Heroes.
Takei helped bring the second season of Peele's The Twilight Zone to a close in the series finale “You Might Also Like.” In the episode, individuals encounter a mysterious egg advertised to them as something they need. It’s actually an egg laid by the mysterious Kanamits, with the intention of destroying humanity. Takei appears as one of the Kanamits, and honestly? If he wants to take over, we might be okay with it.
Beloved for his role as Roy Tenneman in the British comedy series The IT Crowd, O’Dowd has also played roles in movies like How to Lose Friends & Alienate People and Dinner for Schmucks. Later, he played Rhodes, Kristen Wigg’s love interest in the modern comedy classic, Bridesmaids.
O’Down appears in the ninth episode of the first season, “The Blue Scorpion.” He plays Jeff Storck, an unfulfilled man on the verge of divorce, when his father dies. While looking through his late father’s things, he finds a gun, the titular Blue Scorpion, which carries a literal bullet with his name on it. Things only get weirder from there as Storck becomes obsessed with the bullet, an object that ostensibly foreshadows his inevitable demise.
Billy Porter originated the role of Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway in 2013 and has released a trio of solo musical albums. You might know Porter from roles in The Get Down, American Horror Story, and Pose or simply from his incredible red carpet presence.
Porter appears in the third episode of the second season, entitled “The Who of You.” The episode begins with struggling actor, Harry Pine, at his breaking point. Pine decides to rob a bank and is almost immediately captured. Or he would have been, except that he discovers an uncanny ability to transfer his consciousness into the body of others. Along the way, Pine encounters a storefront psychic named Keith, played by Porter. The story deals with what happens when a person can avoid any consequences by simply running away from their problems, one puppeteered body at a time.
Simpson got his start as a character actor playing small roles in a number of television series and movies. He played Bob in the 2009 Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying and did an episode of How I Met Your Mother, among other things. He arrived on many people's radar by way of his role as Liam McPoyle on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia before really breaking out as William, a central character in the first season of HBO’s Westworld series.
He entered the Twilight Zone in the Season 2 premiere, “Meet in the Middle.” Simpson plays Phil Hayes, a man who has no real emotional connections outside of regular appointments with his therapist. That is until he starts hearing a woman’s voice in his mind and comes to believe that she is real. Viewers follow Phil as he discovers the true origin and intentions of the voice.
Nanjiani lent his comedic chops to beloved comedy shows like Broad City, Key and Peele, and Portlandia before being cast as Dinesh Chugtai on the Mike Judge HBO comedy series Silicon Valley. That role allowed him to enter the living rooms of millions of people over the course of six seasons. Nanjiani later co-starred alongside Dave Bautista in the gig worker buddy cop movie Stuber, as well as roles in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Murderville, and as Kingo in the MCU’s Eternals.
He appears in the series premiere of Peele’s Twilight Zone in an episode called “The Comedian," which features Nanjiani as Samir Wassan, a comedian struggling to make ends meet. When Samir meets famed comedian J.C. Wheeler (in a bonus cameo from Tracy Morgan) he learns the key to success lies in adding a personal touch to your material. The only problem is, every person or thing Samir mentions in a joke disappears from reality forever and that’s a whole lot of power to hold in your hands, especially for a laugh.
While Steven Yeun had early roles in The Big Bang Theory and Warehouse 13, you probably know him best as Glenn Rhee in AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead. Yeun’s character was killed off the show in what remains one of the most memorable moments in comic book and television history. Later, he delivered performances in Okja, Voltron, Sorry to Bother You, Trollhunters, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Tuca & Bertie, and Invincible, just to name a few. More recently, he appeared in Jordan Peele’s latest entry to the modern horror canon, Nope, when he played former child-star-turned opportunistic entrepreneur Ricky Park.
Yeun appeared in the Season 1 episode “A Traveler.” An Alaskan police sergeant arrests her brother as part of the ceremonial pardon which takes place every year during the Christmas party. Suddenly, the sergeant discovers an unknown stranger in one of the holding cells. It’s Yeun as the titular A. Traveler, who ingratiates himself to the party guests only to reveal he knows more than he should be capable of knowing.
There are even more stars we didn’t have room to mention. John Cho, DeWanda Wise, Taissa Farmiga, Gillian Jacobs, and more, and all of them are waiting for you in The Twilight Zone marathon, airing July 4 on SYFY. Check out the programming schedule here.