Jordan Peele Made an Unexpected Contribution to the Third Season of “Atlanta”

Remember Liam Neeson's cameo as himself?

Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele speaks onstage during the 14th Annual AAFCA Awards at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Last year saw the release of the third and fourth seasons of Atlanta, bringing the acclaimed series to an end. In an interview with Deadline, executive producer Stephen Glover noted that in season three, “there’s all these maximalist things happening.” One of those things was an unexpected cameo by Liam Neeson in which the actor played a stylized, satirical version of himself. (One assumes, at least.)

While an actor getting very meta about their own public image isn’t a new phenomenon, Neeson’s appearance felt more unexpected than most. And as it turns out, Neeson’s cameo in Atlanta was partly the work of someone whose show had previously featured Neeson in a very different cameo — Jordan Peele.

IndieWire notes that a recent GQ profile of Atlanta creator and star Donald Glover features an inside look at how Neeson’s cameo, which followed Neeson making some unnerving 2019 comments about his reaction at the time to a decades-old incident. From what he told GQ, Glover initially approached Neeson, who politely declined his offer to appear in the show. Glover persisted and took note of an interview where Neeson mentioned that he had been in touch with three people — including Jordan Peele.

It was at that point that Peele got involved in the effort to get Neeson to appear on Atlanta. “I hit Jordan Peele up and I was like, ‘Look, man, I got this idea. He said that he trusted you. Tell him it’s a good idea!’” Glover recalled in the interview.

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That approach ended up working out, paving the way for Neeson’s unexpected cameo. “So Jordan talked to him,” Glover recalled. “Liam hit me back and said he talked to Jordan and his son and thought it’d actually be a good thing.” The rest, as they say, is television history.

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