It used to be that the highest rated shows attracted the biggest guest stars, because they knew they’d be in front of a bigger audience. However, in today’s streaming age, with a huge media platform catering to every audience niche and hardly any viewing figures getting released, celebrities have more freedom to book guest spots on the shows they actually like.
For example, Netflix’s animated tragicomedy BoJack Horseman is one of the greatest shows on the air right now, and so it’s no surprise that it attracts huge guest stars. Here are The 10 Best Guest Stars From BoJack Horseman, Ranked.
10 J.K. Simmons as Lenny Turteltaub
J.K. Simmons is one of the finest actors working today, and so it was no surprise when his performance as Lenny Turteltaub, the crotchety old producer of BoJack’s Secretariat biopic, turned out to be great. Simmons made sporadic appearances as Lenny over the first four seasons of BoJack (he only appeared in a photo in the fifth), and he was always brilliant in the role.
The fact that Lenny’s a turtle is a joke within itself, because the turtle’s long lifespan plays on the old age of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, but the character wouldn’t land if Simmons didn’t perfectly channel every Tinseltown bigwig he’s ever had lunch with.
9 Maria Bamford as Kelsey Jannings
Beloved alternate standup comic Maria Bamford was the perfect choice to play Kelsey Jannings, the director hired to helm BoJack’s biopic of Secretariat. Kelsey is a divorced lesbian on the indie movie scene who sees the Secretariat movie as her last chance to make it big enough to afford to send her daughter to an Ivy League school.
As many directors are, she’s fired for spending the studio’s money on a scene she wanted and they didn’t. We later feel sorry for Kelsey as she goes back to making indie movies and BoJack struggles to apologize to her. Bamford brought humanity to what could’ve been a clichéd character.
8 Stanley Tucci as Herb Kazzaz
Herb Kazzaz is the key to BoJack’s past. A lot of the show’s storylines are dedicated to unraveling the title character’s mentality and how it got that way. As the creator of Horsin’ Around and therefore the one responsible for BoJack’s career, Herb is one of the most important characters in the show.
That’s why a really brilliant actor was required to play the role right: Stanley Tucci. Tucci brought a suitable amount of gravitas to the role of Herb, whose drug use behind the scenes of the show ultimately led to its creative decline and his own psychological downfall.
7 Alan Arkin as J.D. Salinger
Of all the celebrities one would expect a show set in Hollywood (or, rather, “Hollywoo”) to satirize, The Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger wasn’t one of them. However, as it turns out, he fit right in with the tone of the show. The famously reclusive author comes out of hiding and immediately sells out all of his creative integrity by falling into the reality TV industry.
The great Alan Arkin plays Salinger exactly how you’d expect him to be: pretentious, faux-intellectual, and a little bit crazy. Everything he says in the show is ridiculous, so Arkin’s ingenuous delivery of every line helps to sell all the jokes.
6 Ilana Glazer as Penny
We know Ilana Glazer from the young, wild, and free twentysomething empowered woman she plays on Broad City. Her role in BoJack Horseman was about as far removed from Ilana Wexler as she could possibly be. She played Penny, the teenage daughter of BoJack’s old flame, who he escorted to her prom and then almost slept with.
The moment where Penny’s mother discovers them together is one of the darkest and most shocking moments in BoJack Horseman’s five seasons. Despite being the opposite kind of character from what she’s used to playing, Glazer drew on Penny’s vulnerability in truly mesmerizing ways.
5 Rami Malek as Flip McVicker
Before he won an Academy Award for playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek played another delicate genius in BoJack Horseman. The difference is that his BoJack character, Flip McVicker, wasn’t as smart as he thought he was. He created Philbert, the detective series that gave BoJack his comeback.
Flip sees himself as a precocious genius, but the reality is that he has no talent and he’s filled with insecurities. He’s a pitch-perfect satire of every wannabe writer who dreams of being Quentin Tarantino, yet has no talent. Malek plays that role really well with his brooding, intense voice.
4 Stephen Colbert as Mr. Witherspoon
BoJack Horseman is a delightful blend of the absurd and the tragic. Every character, storyline, memorable moment, and line of dialogue falls into one of those two categories. Stephen Colbert’s character Mr. Witherspoon, the bloated treefrog who runs Princess Carolyn’s talent agency, falls into the absurd category.
Playing into the brash persona that made him a star, Colbert portrays Mr. Witherspoon as the guy you love to hate; the powerful idiot whose employees suffer for the sake of his own self-interests. A prime example of this is when he decided to promote his moronic son Charley instead of Princess Carolyn.
3 Philip Baker Hall as Hank Hippopopalous
The BoJack episode “Hank After Dark” would later become known as “the Cosby episode,” since it’s about a beloved public figure – known as “Uncle Hankie,” which isn’t too far from “America’s dad” – facing allegations from female co-workers that his fans try to ignore. Diane leads the charge to expose that what he did was wrong.
This was the first time that BoJack really tackled a social issue – and it was before that issue would blow wide open with the #MeToo movement – so it’s a very important episode, because the show has gone on to become one of the most insightful and satirical shows on the air. Philip Baker Hall’s voice has a warmth that makes us trust him in the way that the public of the BoJack world trust Hank. He also has the range to sound sinister, proving Diane right. Hall played this character excellently.
2 Kristen Schaal as Sarah Lynn
What makes Sarah Lynn’s story arc so poignant and tragic is that it’s so realistic. Children aren’t cut out for the pressures of fame, so it makes sense that the adorable little girl who played BoJack’s daughter in his ‘90s sitcom Horsin’ Around would grow up to become a washed-up drug addict.
Kristen Schaal is used to playing adorable characters like Louise Belcher, so it must’ve been a fun change of pace to play a character as broken as Sarah Lynn. Her performance in the role was spectacular, making her death scene at the end of a bender with BoJack even more heartbreaking.
1 Stephanie Beatriz as Gina Cazador
Stephanie Beatriz has already made leaps and bounds for female representation, Latin American representation, and LGBTQ representation in the media with her role as Rosa in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But her role as Gina Cazador in BoJack Horseman highlights why that representation is important. Gina is BoJack’s co-star in the detective series Philbert.
Due to her gender and ethnicity, Gina has often been delegated to bit parts in the white male-dominated film and TV industry. That’s why she refuses to make BoJack’s drug-addled choking incident on the set of the show public, because it’ll blow her chance to make it in Hollywood. Beatriz was central to one of the show’s darkest storylines, and emphasized startling social issues in the process.