Donald Glover's New Show 'Swarm' Is Full of Surprise Celebrity Castings
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Donald Glover and Janine Nabers' new Prime Video series Swarm is many things: a hypnotic thrill ride, a satirical examination of toxic stan culture, a hilarious, surrealist follow-up to Atlanta. It stars Judas and the Black Messiah star Dominique Fishback as Dre, a Houston-based music fan whose obsession with a pop star leads her down a very dark and bloody path. (Trust me, the viewing experience calls for as few spoilers as possible.)
Swarm also has a stacked cast, including Chloe Bailey, Damson Idris, Nirine S. Brown, Rory Culkin, Kiersey Clemons, and Byron Bowers. There's also several surprise celeb appearances, with the anthology-like format introducing new casts for each episode. Read on for our rundown of every appearance, from both the superstars popping up onscreen to a huge name behind the scenes.
The Grammy-winning musician's makes her surprise acting debut in episode 4, "Running Scared," where Dre encounters a group of mysterious young women living on a casual commune in the woods. Ahead of the show's March 17 premiere, Eilish shared a clip of a creepy and hypnotic exchange that her character, named Eva, has with Dre. She also posted a series of behind-the-scenes pics, paired with an effusive tribute to Fishback, Glover, and the Swarm creative team.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, series co-creator Nabers credited the major get to the show's casting director Carmen Cuba.
"We were looking to cast the episode and she suggested Billie, and I said, 'Does she act?' And she said, 'Yeah,'" Nabers told the outlet. "And I said, 'What has she been in?' And [Cuba] said, 'Nothing.' But what's so incredible about this process is that you have a lot of people that work on the show that are multi-hyphenate and people who have so many different passions. We gravitate toward people who are juggling multiple hats."
The model, singer, and American Horror Stories actress appears in Swarm's second episode, "Honey," playing Hailey, a stripper who befriends Dre during one of the lead characters's adventures. The multi-hyphenate's casting becomes very meta in one scene where Hailey describes herself as Black and explains, "My dad's half." When Dre is surprised, Hailey responds, "Yeah. That's why my stage name's Halsey."
For anyone in the dark, Paris is the daughter of King of Pop Michael Jackson, and she previously said in a 2017 interview with the Straits Times that she identifies as a Black woman despite her white-passing appearance. "[My dad] would look me in the eyes and he'd point his finger at me and he'd be like, 'You’re Black. Be proud of your roots," she told the outlet. "And I'd be like, 'Okay, he's my dad, why would he lie to me?'" As for the Halsey mention, the "Without Me" singer has also spoken publicly about her identity, telling Playboy in 2017, "I look like a white girl, but I don't feel like one. I'm a Black woman."
Though she doesn't appear as a cast member in the series, Malia Obama does make her television writing debut in Swarm. Glover confirmed last March that the former First Daughter had joined the writing team of an upcoming project, and Nabers has now revealed that the Harvard grad wrote the thriller's fifth episode, "Girl, Bye."
"['Girl, Bye'] is probably one of the wildest episodes," Nabers told Entertainment Tonight. "I think it's going to surprise a lot of people. It's pretty dope. I'm really proud of it."
"Some of her pitches were wild as hell, and they were just so good and so funny," the co-creator added. "She's an incredible writer. She brought a lot to the table… She's really, really dedicated to her craft... I'm really excited for everyone to get to know her work, and the work of the writers on a show."
Just when you think you've spotted every famous face that will show up in Swarm, Internet personality Rickey Thompson pops up in the tense opening scene of "Girl, Bye." The model and podcaster has a scene-stealing moment as Kenny, who works in customer service and has a tense conversation with Dre. (To be fair, most conversations with Dre are tense.)
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