The 30 Best Girls Guest Stars
Before he wrote and directed the hit indie flick Don't Think Twice, the comedian appeared as Girls' first major guest star on the second episode of season 1, titled "Vagina Panic." Birbiglia played Brian, a prospective employer who interviews Hannah (Lena Dunham) for an open position. The two hit it off, and it seems that Hannah might land on her feet after being cut off from her parents' finances — until she squanders the opportunity by making an inappropriate joke about date rape. House of Cards actress Sakina Jaffrey also made a brief appearance in "Vagina Panic" as an abortion clinic nurse who endures the brunt of Hannah's AIDS-inspired anxieties.
Former Saturday Night Live cast member Horatio Sanz had a small, single-episode gig on the season 1 episode "Hannah's Diary" as Terry, a friend of Jessa's (Jemima Kirke) employer, Jeff (James Le Gros).
Pitch Perfect star Skylar Astin took on an edgier role in the Girls' season 1 episode "Hannah's Diary," portraying Matt, a former flame Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) met years ago at summer camp. After a chance encounter on the city streets reunites them, Matt attempts to sleep with Shoshanna, though later abandons the idea after she reveals that she's a virgin.
Bobby Moynihan found his place among a revolving door of Saturday Night Live players that have guest-starred on Girls, tackling the role of Thadd, the best man at Jessa's surprise wedding to Thomas-John (Chris O'Dowd) in the season 1 finale "She Did." Marnie (Allison Williams), still reeling from her breakup with Charlie (Christopher Abbott), embraces what she perceives to be a newfound sense of freedom and hooks up with Thadd at the ceremony.
Ahead of creating and securing the series lead on FX's Atlanta, rapper Donald Glover (otherwise known as Childish Gambino) cozied up to Hannah on Girls' second season, playing her temporary love interest (and political conservative), Sandy, in the wake of her separation from Adam.
In what is arguably Girls' most memorable episode to date, the season 2 stunner "One Man's Trash," Hannah shacks up with a wealthy, spur-of-the-moment suitor, Joshua (Patrick Wilson), who owns a fancy brownstone in Brooklyn. Sequestered from reality in Joshua's spacious row house as she experiences what it would be like to be in a healthy, committed relationship, Hannah comes to realize how badly damaged she is, refusing to settle for the comforts of being one man's "treasure" when she feels like trash. The experience retrains Hannah's focus on her own happiness, and she leaves the surreal space of Joshua's home for the hustle and bustle of the real world outside.
Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig had a single line in the season 2 episode "Boys," refuting a false claim made by Marnie's love interest, Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone), at a party.
Jessa teased her tumultuous upbringing in previous episodes, though viewers experienced the full force of her uneven family life in the season 2 episode "Video Games." Hannah accompanies Jessa to her childhood home in rural New York, where her estranged father (Ben Mendelsohn) and his wife (Rosanna Arquette) live with Jessa's 19-year-old step-brother, Frank. Upon realizing her father hasn't changed since she last saw him, Jessa abandons Hannah before their train ride back to the city, and doesn't reappear until the season 3 opener "Females Only."
You might recognize Bob Balaban as a key player in Christopher Guest's filmography, and Girls recruited him for a small, uncredited recurring role as Hannah's therapist, Dr. Rice. His first performance on the show occurred during season 2. He would later guest-star on an additional two episodes: season 3's "Females Only" and season 4's "Close Up."
Oscar-nominee and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Carol Kane had a small role on the show's second season. In "It's Back," Kane guest-stars as Cloris, an alcoholic who corners Adam at an AA meeting, convincing him to go on a blind date with her daughter.
Shiri Appleby, Amy Schumer
Introduced at the tail end of Girls' second season, Roswell's Shiri Appleby played Natalia, Adam's first post-Hannah lover, across a multi-episode arc that stretched into the show's third season. A-list comedienne Amy Schumer guested on two episodes (season 2's "On All Fours" and season 3's "Females Only") as Natalia's judgmental best friend, Angie, who accosts Hannah at Ray's coffee shop shortly after Adam dumped her pal. Schumer previously auditioned for the role of Shoshanna, which eventually went to series regular Zosia Mamet. “It was clear Amy wasn’t meant to play an innocent Juicy Couture lover obsessed with emoji — even if her Meatpacking District club lingo was the funniest s--- I had ever heard,” Dunham recalled in a November 2016 post written for her Lenny Letter periodical. “But when she left the room, the vibe was very ‘Someone give that lady a show, STAT!'”
Smack in the middle of Orange Is the New Black's burgeoning success in 2014, Danielle Brooks landed a guest spot on the third season premiere of Girls as Laura, a fellow addict whom Jessa seduces during her stint in rehab. Though she only appeared on one episode of Girls, Brooks would go on to receive three consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards for her performance as part of the Orange Is the New Black ensemble. She also scored a Tony nod for her work on the 2015 Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple.
To match Marnie's high-maintenance antics, Girls cast veteran actress and recording artist Rita Wilson as the perfectionist's mother, Evie. Wilson co-starred on five episodes of the HBO project, first appearing on the season 2 premiere "It's About Time." Most recently, she effectively countered her on-screen daughter's bridezilla attitude on the season 5 episode "Wedding Day," sharing a particularly humorous (and bitter) moment with Marnie's hired makeup artist, Bebe (Bridget Everett).
Season 3, episode 5 of Girls included a memorable guest appearance by Kissing Jessica Stein's Jennifer Westfeldt. The writer-director, who also starred in and penned the script for the 2006 romance Ira & Abby, played the widow of Hannah's e-book publisher, David (John Cameron Mitchell), whom Hannah assumed was gay. The budding essayist confronts the deceased's wife about the fate of her literary venture, which remains in limbo in the wake of David's passing.
Entertainment industry professionals aren't the only ones who've acted on the set of Girls; businesswoman Jenna Lyons, the president and creative director for J.Crew, recurred as Hannah's uptight boss at GQ, where the protagonist landed a regular job writing advertorials.
From the stage to the big screen, Patti LuPone has captivated audiences around the world. The performer, who's won two Grammys and two Tonys along her 45-year professional acting career thus far, recurred as herself on two episodes of Girls' third season. In "Incidentals," Hannah is tasked with interviewing LuPone for an osteoporosis advertorial set to run in GQ, though the actress' words of wisdom end up reframing Hannah's focus on her relationship with Adam, now a budding actor preparing for his first role on Broadway.
Oscar-nominated actress June Squibb boarded Girls in a heartbreaking role following her late career resurgence as a supporting actress in the Alexander Payne-directed feature Nebraska. Squibb injected a tangible warmth into her character, playing Hannah's dying grandmother, Flo (after whom the season 3 episode is named), with a brand of hardened grace that comes only with age, wit, and experience.
Before her breakout as a major, Oscar-nominated movie star in films like The Theory of Everything and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Felicity Jones stopped by the HBO series for a single-episode performance. In "Role-Play," she portrays Dottie, the child of Jessa's drug-addled friend, Jasper, who forces the recovering addict into relapse following her stint in rehab. In an effort to save Jessa from his clutches, Shoshanna locates Jasper's estranged daughter, an act which reunites them while leaving Jessa lost and alone.
One of Jessa's most controversial decisions resulted from the noblest of intentions; When her exhausted, aging friend and employer, Bedelia (Louise Lasser), asks Jessa to assist in her suicide, the sympathetic 20something agrees. After ingesting a fatal drug, Bedelia changes her mind, however, and requests medical attention. Bedelia's overbearing daughter, Rickey (Natasha Lyonne), scolds Jessa for entertaining the act upon her mother's survival. Still, Jessa gets the last laugh; she charms Bedelia into admitting she likes her more than Rickey.
Ana Gasteyer and Anthony Edwards
Viewers got a peek at the foundation for Shoshanna's high-strung behavior on the inaugural episode of Girls' fourth season, when the character's divorced parents, both nicknamed "Mel," show up to collect their daughter's diploma. Saturday Night Live graduate Ana Gasteyer and former ER star Anthony Edwards portrayed the bickering, scene-stealing pair, who separated when Shoshanna was a child.
A stark contrast from the parts he's played in American Horror Story and the rebooted Star Trek film franchise, Zachary Quinto's portrayal of Mimi Rose's hipster ex-lover, Ace, spanned two season 4 episodes.
Judd Apatow's daughter, Maude, guest-starred across three episodes of Girls' in 2015, playing Cleo, one of Hannah's students.
Dunham incorporated one of her favorite filmmakers, writer-director Spike Jonze, into the Girls' canon in 2015. The Oscar-winning mind behind 2013's Her has a brief cameo on the season 4 closer, "Home Birth," which Dunham gushed about in a behind-the-scenes featurette for HBO. "I was pretty pleased with the Spike Jonze cameo," Dunham said. "He kind of like, turns everything he touches into a cool trend. It upped everyone's game."
One of the biggest guest actresses Girls has ever secured ended up occupying one of its smallest roles. Lucy Liu, star of two Charlie's Angels films and the CBS procedural Elementary, had a brief cameo as one of Adam's scene partners in a fictional television series.
Yet another Saturday Night Live player joined the ranks of Girls for its fourth season, when current featured performer Aidy Bryant guest-starred as Shoshanna's boss in Tokyo. Bryant first appeared on the final episode of season 4 before showing up in two more episodes across season 5.
After Marnie ends her marriage to Desi, his new love interest, Tandice (Emmy nominee Lisa Bonet) sets intimidating boundaries for the pair's ongoing musical relationship. Bonet joined the Girls cast for two episodes in 2016, nearly 32 years after her breakout role as Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show.
Hannah's bitter rivalry with fellow Oberlin graduate Tally Schifrin (Saturday Night Live and Obvious Child actress Jenny Slate) was first explored in the penultimate episode of Girls' freshman season in 2012. Tally has written a collection of essays inspired by the death of her boyfriend, while Hannah, still struggling for a major break in the field, simmers in jealousy over her the success of her former classmate, who's a subpar writer, according to one of their professors (Michael Imperioli). Their relationship is later explored — on a much lighter note — five years later in the season 5 episode "Love Stories," when Hannah reconnects with her old frenemy (and gains a newfound appreciation for her) as they explore the city together.