Guest characters are a time-tested way to spice up television shows, whether by providing an intriguing new foil, upping an episode's star power or just providing a bit of fan service.
At a recent Envelope Emmy Roundtable, Mindy Kaling, creator and star of "The Mindy Project," and Jake Johnson, one of the stars of "New Girl," discussed how the right guests can motivate everyone on a show to elevate their game.
Asked by moderator and Times television critic Mary McNamara about "Mindy Project" guest star Chloe Sevigny, Kaling said the "Big Love" veteran brought something unique to the show.
"She kind of can do anything," Kaling said. "And she's very mysterious still. She projects that, and we don't have a lot of sexy, mysterious people on our show, so it's nice."
Johnson said the dynamic was similar when Merritt Wever, known for her work on "Nurse Jackie," appeared on "New Girl."
"Right from the beginning her tone was very different because she's very good," Johnson said. "And very quickly we were all like, 'Great, this bench just got deeper.' "
Kaling chimed in, "When a show is early enough on, sometimes someone will come in and you'll kind of grow a little, you'll stretch a little, and you're like, 'Now our show's a little bit bigger. Thank you for that gift.' "
Watch the video for more, including Johnson talking about embarrassing himself in front of guest star Dennis Farina, plus input from Jon Cryer of "Two and a Half Men," Matt LeBlanc of "Episodes" and Don Cheadle of "House of Lies."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun