Every new Rian Johnson project — mystery or not — inspires the same burning question: Do Noah Segan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have cameos?
Since the two actors starred in Johnson’s 2005 feature film debut, Brick, the creator adopted the delightful tradition of casting Segan and Gordon-Levitt in his projects whenever and however he can. The cameos have become a running joke amongst the creator’s fans, and searching for the two actors is now an exciting part of the Rian Johnson Viewing Experience.
On January 26, 2023, Poker Face — Johnson’s first-ever television series — premiered on Peacock. And for those wondering, we’re happy to report that both Segan and Gordon-Levitt appear in the 10-episode season. Hallelujah! But also, we’d expect nothing less!
The mystery-of-the-week series stars Natasha Lyonne as Charlie, a casino cocktail waitress who uses her powerful lie-detecting abilities to solve her friend’s murder. As a result, she’s forced to flee town, and with Charlie on the road, Poker Face introduces a new case, location, and cast each episode. The show has a stacked group of guest stars including Adrien Brody, Chloë Sevigny, Dascha Polanco, Luis Guzmán, Nick Nolte, Ron Perlman, Stephanie Hsu, and more. But who do Noah Segan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play in Poker Face? When do the actors appear? And what do Johnson and Poker Face showrunners Nora and Lilla Zuckerman have to say about the stars? We’ve got the answers, but be mindful that Poker Face spoilers lie ahead.
Is Noah Segan in Poker Face?
Segan played Dode in Johnson’s 2005 film, Brick, but that was just the beginning of his beautiful friendship/professional relationship with Johnson. He’s had cameos in The Brothers Bloom (2008); Looper (2012); Breaking Bad‘s 2013 episode “Ozymandias,” which Johnson directed; Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017); and most recently, Knives Out (2019) and Glass Onion (2022). Segan played Trooper Wagner opposite LaKeith Stanfield’s Lieutenant Elliott in Knives Out, and Johnson hilariously brought him back as a completely different character — a rando stoner named Derol — in Glass Onion.
Out of the six Poker Face screeners available for review, Segan appears in the pilot, “Dead Man’s Hand,” as a law enforcement agent at the County Sheriff’s Office who Charlie consults with after her friend’s murder. As the two discuss evidence lockers, Segan will elicit a hearty cackle from viewers by uttering two simple words: “Little jail.” It’s one of those scenes you have to see to properly appreciate, so what the heck are you waiting for?
In an interview with Poker Face showrunners Nora and Lilla Zuckerman, the sisters gushed about Segan’s performance in the pilot and called the actor Johnson’s “lucky penny.”
“Noah is always welcome,” Lilla said when asked which Season 1 actor she’d like to see return for a potential Season 2 cameo. “I think he’s so good in this in the pilot,” Nora added. “His [scene] with Charlie is maybe, I think, the best scene in the pilot. It’s so funny. It gets the most laughs. And he’s a delight, too. So we can’t get rid of him. We’ve gotta bring him back.”
When Johnson spoke to Decider, he also confirmed he’d love to bring Segan back if Poker Face gets a Season 2. “I think Noah Segan could easily be the Patrick McGoohan. And I’ve already done that with him with Knives Out and Glass Onion, so the seal is broken on that,” he said during a Zoom call.
Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Poker Face?
The love between Gordon-Levitt and Johnson has also been going strong since the actor played Brendan, the protagonist in Johnson’s 2005 film, Brick. In the years that followed, JGL has had appearances — both big and small — in The Brothers Bloom (2008), Looper (2012), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), Knives Out (2019), and Glass Onion (2022). In some cases, like Johnson’s recent mystery films, Gordon-Levitt only appears via small vocal cameos. (He did voiceover work for a TV show playing in a Knives Out scene, and he recorded the “DONG” noise heard in Glass Onion.) But in Poker Face, JGL gets his very own episode.
Though Gordon-Levitt’s episode hasn’t aired yet, we know he’ll be starring in Episode 9, “Escape From Shit Mountain,” which premieres on March 2. The episode was written by showrunners Nora and Lilla Zuckerman and was directed by Rian Johnson. And in their interview with Decider, the Zuckerman sisters teased the episode and shared what it was like working with Gordon-Levitt on set.
“Episode 9 was actually the first episode of Poker Face that we shot, because it takes place in winter. So it’s an interesting little Easter egg,” Nora told Decider. “I will say that the one thing about having Joseph Gordon-Levitt on set is he plays this character that is so wicked, so diabolical, but also FUNNY. And he is a really funny actor and also incredibly, like, physically adept. He does a lot of physical humor in this episode, without ruining anything. He just commits and throws his whole body into this role. He’s wonderful,” Lilla added.
In the Poker Face trailer (shown at the top of this page), the actor is briefly shown outside in the snow at night holding his hands up by his head. And a second trailer shows Gordon-Levitt opening the door of a cozy-looking cabin/office/motel to find a person collapsed on the snowy ground in his doorway.
“There’s one take of him. I think it’s actually in the trailer where he’s in the snow and you know, we had it was I think, some fake snow, some manufactured snow. And to reset it, it has to be perfect. And he did it in one shot. And we were like, ‘Holy shit, we got it,’” Nora said. “He just nailed it, knew exactly where to hit. And it looked physically so tough, but he just nailed it and it was like, ‘We don’t need to go again. We got it.’ That was working with him. He was great.”
Here’s hoping Johnson, Segan, and Gordon-Levitt never part.
The first four episodes of Poker Face are now streaming on Peacock with new episodes dropping weekly on Thursdays.
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