Ryan Murphy shows aren't exactly known for their sensible plots or cohesive character arcs, but if there's one thing they can be relied on for, it's A-list talent. The cast of The Politician, Murphy's new Netflix show, is no different. Its roster of actors is a veritable treasure trove of talent, including several alumni from his previous shows as well as some high-profile, Tony-winning newcomers.
The Politician is the first project to emerge from Murphy's collaboration with Netflix, and it's far from the last. In April 2018, the showrunner signed a $300 million exclusive deal with the streaming service — the largest deal in television history — and immediately began work on several shows, adaptations, and documentaries.
In addition to The Politician, viewers can also expect Ratched, a One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest prequel series starring Sarah Paulson as the titular villainous nurse; a show about 1940s Hollywood starring Patti LuPone and Darren Criss, among others; a biopic about Golden Age icon Marlene Dietrich starring Jessica Lange; a 10-episode re-imagining of the classic musical A Chorus Line; a filmed version of Murphy's recent Tony-winning revival of The Boys In The Band; and a movie adaptation of the Broadway hit show The Prom starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and more.
Judging by the star-studded cast of The Politician, Murphy's other projects are sure to include even more huge names, as well as a few fresh faces. Here's who you can expect to see when you tune into the eight-episode first season.
1. Ben Platt as Payton Hobart
This is the first collaboration between Murphy and Ben Platt, the Tony-winning star of Broadway's hit musical Dear Evan Hansen. Before he took home the trophy for Best Actor in a Musical, Platt appeared in the Pitch Perfect movies as Benji, the awkward, magic-obsessed roommate of Skylar Astin's Jesse. His other stage credits include The Book Of Mormon and The Secret Garden, while you may have seen him onscreen in Ricki And The Flash, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and an episode of NBC's Will & Grace revival.
2. Gwyneth Paltrow as Georgina Hobart
The Politician marks the fourth team-up between Murphy and Paltrow. The Oscar-winning actress first worked with Murphy on his 2006 film Running With Scissors — based on Augusten Burroughs' memoir of the same name — in which she played the protagonist's adoptive sister. Paltrow also appeared as a guest star in the pilot episode of Murphy's short-lived NBC sitcom The New Normal, but their most famous collaboration is undoubtedly McKinley High substitute teacher Holly Holiday, Paltrow's recurring character on Glee.
3. Jessica Lange as Dusty Jackson
Murphy gave Lange her first-ever role on a television series when he convinced the Oscar-winning actress to play Constance in Season 1 of American Horror Story. She went on to become Murphy's muse for the next three seasons, following up Murder House with lead roles in Asylum, Coven, and Freak Show. Although she eventually left the anthology series (returning for a cameo in Season 8's Apocalypse), she and Murphy worked together again on the limited series Feud: Bette And Joan, in which she portrayed another famous Oscar-winning actress, Joan Crawford.
4. Zoey Deutch as Infinity Jackson
After getting her start with recurring parts on shows like The Suite Life On Deck and Ringer, Deutch broke out on the big screen with a double-whammy of supernatural teen movies in 2013's Beautiful Creatures and 2014's Vampire Academy. Since then, she has also appeared in films like Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!!; YA adaptation Before I Fall; the J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel In The Rye; The Room origin story The Disaster Artist; and the Netflix rom-com Set It Up. The Politician is her first role on a Murphy project.
5. Lucy Boynton as Astrid Sloan
Another Murphy-verse newcomer, you may have seen Boynton recently in the Best Picture-nominated biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, in which the British actress played the fiancée of rock star Freddie Mercury. Her other film credits include the Irish coming-of-age musical Sing Street; Rebel In The Rye alongside Politician co-star Deutch; and the Agatha Christie adaptation Murder On The Orient Express.
6. David Corenswet as River Barkley
Although Corenswet is just breaking out — this is his first series regular role after having guest-starred on shows like Elementary, Instinct, and House Of Cards — get ready to see a lot more of him. After The Politician, he's re-teaming with Murphy for another of the producer's many Netflix projects: the period piece Hollywood, alongside Criss, LuPone, and Politician co-star Dylan McDermott. This could be the beginning of a fruitful collaboration, so get used to seeing Corenswet on your screen.
7. Laura Dreyfuss as McAfee
The Politician is a reunion for Dreyfuss in more ways than one. It brings her back together with Murphy, after having joined the final season of Glee as quirky cheerleader-turned-glee clubber Madison McCarthy. But the show also reunites her with her Dear Evan Hanson co-star Ben Platt; Dreyfuss also starred in the original Broadway production of the hit musical as Zoe, the object of the title character's affection. (You may also have caught Dreyfuss in Season 2 of Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.)
8. Bob Balaban as Keaton Hobart
It's hard to believe that this is the first time Balaban and Murphy are working together, since the actor's comedic sensibilities and the producer's quirky tone seem like a perfect match. Balaban has a history of long collaborations — having appeared in many Christopher Guest comedies (Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind) and several Wes Anderson films (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle Of Dogs) — so hopefully this is the beginning of a long partnership between Balaban and Murphy. (The Politician is also a reunion for Balaban and Boynton, who appeared together in the 2016 Netflix horror movie I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House.)
9. Dylan McDermott as Theon Klein
This is the first time McDermott and Murphy have joined forces since American Horror Story, which the actor helped launch with a starring role in Murder House and later cameoed on again in Season 2's Asylum and Season 8's Apocalypse. But now that the team is back together, they won't be breaking up anytime soon; after The Politician, McDermott will be appearing alongside Corenswet and a high-profile ensemble cast in Murphy's Hollywood.
10. January Jones as Lizbeth Klein
Jones may be best-known for her Emmy-nominated role as Betty Draper in AMC's acclaimed drama Mad Men, but if you're surprised to see her starring in a Murphy comedy, then you must be unfamiliar with her recent work on the apocalyptic Fox sitcom The Last Man On Earth. It'll be nice to see Murphy bring out that looser, more quirky side of Jones again.
11. Judith Light as Dede Standish
Light's first collaboration with Murphy earned the actress an Emmy nomination for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series; her role as Marilyn Miglin, the widow of one of Andrew Cunanan's victims, was one of the highlights of The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. It makes sense that the Tony-winning actress would want to re-team with Murphy for his next project as well. Hopefully she has equally meaty material to dig her teeth into this time.
12. Bette Midler as Hadassah Gold
Given the sheer number of icons of the stage and screen who guest-starred on Glee over the years — Patti LuPone, Carol Burnett, Shirley MacLaine, Olivia Newton-John — it's kind of shocking that Murphy and Midler have never worked together before. That oversight will be rectified when The Politician premieres.
See this all-star cast in action when The Politician hits Netflix on Friday, Sept. 27.