What is a Guest Star Role? 

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  • What is a Guest Star Role? 

    Diving into television roles and the purposes they serve… 

    (By Tonya Tannenbaum)

    (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels)

    A guest star is a character on a television show who is not part of the main cast. The guest star, nonetheless, plays a very significant role in the show, often appearing in multiple scenes and has a character arc.

  • The character arc is one of the biggest differences between a guest star and a co-star. For co-star roles, the character does not go through a transformation of any significance. Their role is to serve the scene and the main cast.

    Guest stars, by contrast, have an arc to their characters. Their character may begin the episode with a set of views or feelings that evolve during the course of the episode.

    What is a Co-Star Role?

    A simple way to think about guest stars is to think of them as characters who temporarily disrupt the normal lives of the main characters.

    The ex-boyfriend who comes to pay the main character an unexpected visit, the suspected serial killer whom detectives interrogate, and the weird new coworker whom the main character hopes to avoid, can all be good examples of guest star roles.

  • A few famous examples of guest-star roles would include:

    (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels)

    *Idris Elba’s character Charles Miner, in The Office, who ultimately drives the main character, Michael Scott, to quit his job.

    *Brad Garrett’s character Tony Abado, the mechanic who stole Jerry’s car on Seinfeld.

    *Reese Witherspoon’s character Jill Greene, the younger sister of Rachel, who causes tension when she, among other things, begins dating Ross on Friends.

    *Bradley Cooper’s role of Jason Whitaker, the lawyer suspected of rape in Law and Order: SVU.

    *Alanis Morissette’s character, Dawn, who kisses Carrie in a game of spin-the-bottle; a game she believes she’s too old to play, on Sex and the City.

  • A few notes on guest star roles… 

    *Unlike co-stars, guest stars often appear alongside the main characters in the opening credits.

    *Unlike co-stars, guest stars usually have lots of dialogue and a character name that is known to the audience.

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