[This story contains spoilers from the season finale of Dave, “Looking for Love.”]
Dave’s guest star roster now includes Brad Pitt.
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The movie star guested on the FX comedy’s season three finale as a version of himself opposite creator/star Dave Burd. Pitt, who filmed over several days, many of them night shoots, has considerably more than just a cameo. In fact, FX is submitting him for an Emmy in the guest actor category.
Pitt’s appearance, which has been shrouded in secrecy for many months, began with a passionate, personal letter from Burd to Pitt. In an interview earlier this year, showrunner Jeff Schaffer admits that he and his fellow producers wrote it off as another one of Burd’s crazy pipe dreams. “None of us thought it was going to work, except Dave,” he said, suggesting that it was yet another reminder that Burd and his lofty ideas and declarations should not be dismissed. In this instance, Pitt was rumored to be a fan of Burd’s more-than-semi-autobiographical comedy, which trails his own life and real-world success by a handful of years.
Without giving too much away, the episode, which Burd wrote with Vanessa McGee, puts Pitt (and Burd) in a particularly high-stakes environment, where the audience gets to witness his chops as both a dramatic and comedic actor. While the two-time Academy Award winner has played a prominent role behind the scenes in TV series including The Underground Railroad, High School and The OA, this is his first time guest-starring in a scripted comedy since his 2001 episode of Friends. By all accounts, he committed to both the role and the experience.
Pitt joins a long list of recognizable names who’ve previously guested on the FX series, most of them with brief cameos. In season three, they have included Rachel McAdams, in a more significant role (she, too, has been submitted for Emmy consideration), as well as Usher, Don Cheadle, Demi Lovato, Jack Harlow, Killer Mike and Rick Ross, among others. Earlier seasons featured pop-ins of varying lengths from Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, Kendall Jenner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charlamagne Tha God and Macklemore.
Of course, to hear Burd tell it, it wasn’t always easy to secure boldfaced names, despite the show’s producer roster including manager Scooter Braun and comedian Kevin Hart. In fact, during season one, there were rappers booked who simply didn’t show up, leaving Burd, who performs under the rap name Lil Dicky, scrambling to find replacements. “I’d have to call, like, every rapper who lives in L.A. and be like, ‘Would you ever wanna come on?’ And the show isn’t even out yet, so they have no idea what it is, and some are like, ‘Yeah, I guess I’ll be in your show.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, could you come like now?’ And they’re like, ‘What?!'” he recounted with laughter back in March, before adding: “And I’d be there with, like, $20,000 in a backpack to give whoever shows up that day.”
In the show’s third season, those bookings have come easier, in large part because the series is a known quantity and, particularly in the comedy community, has considerable cache. Plus, increasingly, the guest stars can’t help but feel that they’re in good company, given who else has already been through — or is rumored to come through next. “I don’t think the show is about celebrities, but they are a part of entering the zeitgeist and climbing the ranks of the entertainment industry,” said Burd, which is what Dave Burd, the character, is doing, much as Dave Burd, the performer, has already done. “That’s, like, the DNA of the show, and so I’ll just say that the people who came to play at the end of this season are the holy grail of iconicism. It’s like, where do you go from here?”
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