Roundtable discussions tend to focus on leading or supporting characters and so this guest star panel from SAG is a real treat especially as it features pretty much my favorite guest star – Carrie Preston plays the magical TV unicorn Elsbeth Tascioni on The Good Wife.
Guest stars can go from a three episode arc to becoming a central figure (see Michael Emerson on Lost) or they might do a short run and gain legend status. The phrase “potentially recurring” is often mentioned to guest stars and as Annaleigh Ashford can testify with Masters of Sex it can happen; Betty departed early in season 1 and she’s been upped to a regular for the new season.
Taking part in this SAG panel are Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex), Sarah Baker (Louie), Aimee Carrero (The Americans), Joe Morton (Scandal), Carrie Preston (The Good Wife) and Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black).
Levels of experience vary, as does the way they were cast on the shows they have most recently been on with some getting offered the part without an audition like Carrie Preston and others having to go through multiple callbacks, or getting a part that is different from the one they originally went for. Pablo Schreiber was originally offered Larry on OITNB and he didn’t see him playing this role. Schreiber had already worked with creator Jenji Kohan on Weeds and so that relationship was already there, but it was actually a friend on the writing staff that suggested Pornstache.
Schreiber also goes into how they developed the Pornstache look including the process of picking out the right moustache and how bushiness was an issue. Pornstache’s hair is influenced by Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV and while the ‘stache is fake; the hair is all Schreiber’s.
Carrie Preston mentions the amazing reputation The Good Wife has when it comes to guest stars (both Joe Morton and Pablo Schreiber have also appeared on the show) and how after appearing in the first year she didn’t get called back for a season. Thankfully the writers found an organic way to bring Elsbeth back on multiple occasions; including this very special moment in season 4.
One of the most discussed episodes of this TV season has been Louie’s “So Did the Fat Lady” and while I haven’t seen the actual episode yet (I know, it’s still sitting on my DVR) I have read a lot of the discourse surrounding it, so hearing Sarah Baker talking about the auditioning and filming process, as well as her general experience is really fascinating. Yes, I need to watch this episode.
In terms of how much the actors know when taking on these parts and how long their guest arc will be varies and someone like Shonda Rhimes doesn’t tend to share too much, although Joe Morton did know that his character was Olivia’s father on Scandal. What he doesn’t know is how long Papa Pope will be around for and generally the guest star rule is “If you don’t die there’s always a way.” As we know from other shows, even if a character does die there is still a way.
Watch the whole discussion below for more on general guest star feelings and the shows they have been on.