We finally have an explanation behind one of the strangest collaborations of 2022. Last night, comedian, actor, and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he explained the origin story of his unexpected appearance in a Taylor Swift music video for her single “Anti-Hero,” in which Birbiglia played Swift’s bitter, spoiled, adult son who makes a scene at Swift’s funeral after finding out that he was written out of her will. The music video dropped last month to a surprised and pleased reaction from that small sliver in the middle of the Venn diagram of Taylor Swift and Mike Birbiglia fans.

Birbiglia went on The Late Show to promote his Broadway show, The Old Man and the Pool, and to plug his role in the upcoming Tom Hanks film, A Man Called Otto, an American adaptation of a Swedish novel and film titled A Man Called Ove. Colbert, however, was anxious for answers on a question that country music and stream-of-consciousness storytelling fans have been asking since the “Anti-Hero” video was released – how in the world did Birbiglia land that role?

Said the Don’t Think Twice writer and director of his introduction to the pop superstar, “Apparently, in her mind, she thought, ‘This is the dystopic version, the nightmare version, of what my son would be.’”

 

 

Birbiglia told the story of how he and Swift were both invited to a lunch hosted by musician and record producer Jack Antonoff, better known by his stage name, Bleachers. After Swift apparently saw some upsetting family resemblance in Birbiglia, she texted the Sleepwalk with Me star out of the blue to ask if he would work with her on a music video that she had been writing.

“I thought, maybe, I was just being catfished,” said Birbiglia, “I thought, ‘It’s either Taylor Swift, that would be cool, or it’s someone catfishing me who is an excellent writer.’” Birbiglia effusively praised the script that Swift (or an eloquent Swift impersonator) sent him, which eventually became two and a half minute scene in the middle of the “Anti-Hero” video wherein Birbiglia, playing that nightmare son, melts down over the revelation that his late mother donated all her money to a cat sanctuary.

 

 

The scene costars Mary Elizabeth Ellis, known best as The Waitress in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as Birbiglia’s wife who may or may not have pushed Swift off of a balcony. Search Party’s John Early also plays a Swift progeny as him and Birbiglia argue over who exploited their mother’s fame and fortune the worst. Swift’s comedy writing chops are as impressive as her eye for talent, as the bizarre aside that takes up half the music video’s runtime plays like a scene out of Death at a Funeral – the good version, not the American one.

Mike Birbiglia and Taylor Swift isn’t a combination that anyone could have predicted before “Anti-Hero,” but hopefully this opens the doors for popstars to start appearing in thoughtful storytelling comedian’s specials – maybe Patton Oswalt’s next special will feature a surprise cameo from Cardi B as a fever dream version of his grandmother.

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