Black Mirror director talks hidden 'USS Callister' cameos
This post contains spoilers for Black Mirror season 4, episode 1.
Big fans of the series know that Black Mirror is a show that loves its Easter eggs. True to form, the show kicked off its fourth season with a couple of playful cameos, one a blink-and-you'll-miss-it celebrity appearance, and one an unexpected Breaking Bad reunion.
The more substantial cameo took place at the end of the fourth season's first episode, "USS Callister", when the digital crew of the titular space vessel succeeded in breaking away from their tyrannical captain, played by Jesse Plemons.
After escaping the modified version of an online game Cole created, the crew of the Callister bursts into the regular world of the game, enraptured by their newfound freedom and the opportunity it entails. Naturally, the first human player they encounter besides Cole, who was a cruel monster to them, isn't too much more appealing, greeting them into the galaxy with a message of "So are we going to blow each other, or are we going to trade?"
The rude and crude gamer then barks at the Callister to get out of his sight before he "blasts them to sh*t", leaving the crew to roll their eyes and dart off to take on adventures in other corners of the game. It's a typical welcome from a certain kind of gamer, voiced by none other than Plemons' Breaking Bad co-star, Aaron Paul. The episode finishes off with Paul's disembodied voice self-satisfyingly declaring himself "King of Space," which, sure, rock on, bro.
Toby Haynes, the director of the episode, spoke out about the cameo appearances in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
"It was a hard balance to get; where the voice wasn't patronizing and yet was still a letdown," Haynes said of the process by which Paul came on board. "You get this idea of a slacker voice and when I asked Charlie what kind of accent he wanted he said, 'How about Jesse from Breaking Bad, like, 'Hey ya'll'? We mentioned that to our casting director and she suggested we just ask Aaron, so we picked up the phone and he said yes. That shows you the power of Black Mirror."
Paul's cameo, a one-minute voiceover appearance at the end of the episode, was actually kept a secret from the episode's cast, not being revealed until the final episode's first screening. Naturally, Jesse Plemons, who played a nemesis of Paul's character Jesse on Breaking Bad, was quite surprised to hear his former co-star's voice ring out.
For Paul's part, he was apparently thrilled to appear in the episode, being a fan of the series. But he accepted the role only on the condition that it wouldn't preclude him from appearing in a future episode—so, that's something to watch out for.
The second cameo involved an even more intimate connection with Plemons—a crazily easy-to-miss uncredited appearance from his fiance, Kirsten Dunst.
Dunst makes her appearance just after ten minutes into the episode, rounding a corner as Plemons' character looks out over the staff of the office he works in. She does nothing, says nothing, and adds nothing to the episode—which is really what makes the whole thing so fun.
According to Haynes, Dunst's appearance was a celebrity "Where's Waldo?" moment, an insignificant bit of footage that he fought to keep in the episode, just because.
"She was sitting on set with Jesse and was like, 'Can I play?'" Haynes related. "I said, 'sure,' and we placed her in the background. But when I watched the first take she wasn't there—continuity had taken her out because she wouldn't be in any of the other shots that day and I went crazy! I told them, 'Come on! I only need one shot!'"
All six episodes of Black Mirror's fourth season are available for streaming on Netflix now.