The following post contains minor spoilers for The Stand‘s series premiere.
One of the most recognizable names in The Stand‘s considerable cast never even appears on screen.
For those who watched Thursday’s premiere of the Stephen King adaptation and thought they heard Bryan Cranston voicing the president of the United States, your ears did not deceive you: That is the Emmy-winning Breaking Bad vet playing POTUS, who delivers an off-screen address to the American people in the CBS All Access drama’s first episode.
The Stand co-creator Benjamin Cavell, who previously worked with Cranston on Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, confirmed the stealth casting to TVLine earlier this month, during a virtual press event.
“He’s a friend, and he’s wonderful,” Cavell said of Cranston. “I asked him to do it, and he said yes.”
Cranston’s voice cameo comes about 20 minutes into The Stand‘s premiere, as a deadly strain of influenza known as Captain Trips plagues the globe. But despite the president’s measured tone and calming words, his speech to the public isn’t all that reassuring; POTUS starts coughing halfway through the address, indicating he’s infected with Captain Trips, too.
This is the second presidential role for Cranston, who currently stars on Showtime’s Your Honor (airing Sundays at 10/9c). He previously played Lyndon B. Johnson in HBO’s TV-movie All the Way in 2016, which earned him Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy nominations.
New episodes of The Stand drop every Thursday on CBS All Access. TVLine readers gave Episode 1 an average grade of “B-” (read our recap), with 87 percent saying they’ll return for Episode 2.