28 big actors you didn't realise were in 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'

NetflixNeil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, disguised as ‘Stephano.’


Warning: This post includes minor spoilers for all three seasons of “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

  • The cast of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” features a number of well-known actors.
  • But some of them are hard to recognise because of costumes and disguises.
  • Not everyone looks like they normally look on the series.

Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is based on Daniel Handler’s beloved children’s book series of the same name.

One of the series’ greatest strengths is its cast of colourful, absurd, and creatively named characters – from Quigley Quagmire to Person Of Indeterminate Gender. You probably already know Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, the scheming evil actor who tries to whisk away the fortune of the Baudelaire orphans, and Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, Handler’s authorial alter ego and the on-screen narrator of the series. There are also Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and Presley Smith who play Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire.

The rest of the show’s cast – from Justice Strauss to Dr. Montgomery Montgomery – are played by surprisingly major actors cameoing in the series.

Here’s a list of who they are, as well as a handful of characters who don’t appear in the book.


Joan Cusack plays Justice Strauss, Count Olaf’s neighbour who tries to help the children in “The Bad Beginning.”

NetflixJoan Cusack as Justice Strauss.

Strauss helps foil Olaf’s first plot to steal the children’s fortune. You might kow Cusack from “Working Girl,” “In & Out,” and providing the voice for Jessie in the “Toy Story” movies.


Broadway star and character actor Ken Todd Freeman plays Mr. Poe, the ineffectual banker in charge of the Baudelaire estate.

NetflixK. Todd Freeman plays Mr. Poe.

Freeman has two Tony Award nominations, from 1993 for “The Song of Jacob Zulu” and 2015 for “Airline Highway.”


Former “Daily Show” comedian Aasif Mandvi plays Doctor Montgomery Montgomery, AKA Uncle Monty.

NetflixAasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty.

He’s a herpetologist who takes care of the orphans in “The Reptile Room.”


You might know Alfre Woodard from “12 Years a Slave” or “Luke Cage.”

NetflixAlfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine, another guardian who tries to shield the orphans from Count Olaf.

She plays Aunt Josephine, the orphans’ cowardly guardian in “The Wide Window.”


Comedian Catherine O’Hara plays Dr. Georgina Orwell.

NetflixCatherine O’Hara as Dr. Georgina Orwell.

She’s a hypnotist and Count Olaf’s ex-girlfriend. Orwell plays a big role in “The Miserable Mill” segment of the series.


“Miami Vice” legend Don Johnson plays Sir, the mononymous manager of the Miserable Mill.

NetflixDon Johnson as Sir.

More recently, Johnson had roles in “Django Unchained” and “Eastbound & Down.”


Sunny Baudelaire is a baby played by Presley Smith, but her quasi-nonsensical lines are voiced by Tara Strong.

Chris Frawley/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Getty ImagesTara Strong at Comic-Con in 2014.

Strong has done voice acting in everything from “Rugrats” to “Powerpuff Girls.”


Gustav Sebald is mentioned only in passing in Handler’s books. But in the Netflix series, he’s played by Luke Camilleri.

NetflixLuke Camilleri as Gustav Sebald.

In the first season of the show, his role is expanded from the books as a member of a secret society who tries to help the Baudelaires. You might recognise Camilleri from “Percy Jackson” and “Hemlock Grove.”


He’s working with Jacqueline Scieszka, played by ‘Vampire Diaries’ actress Sara Canning.

NetflixSara Canning as Jacqueline.

Canning’s character isn’t in the books at all.


In the book series, the Baudelaire parents are definitely dead. In the show, there’s a parallel story of two parents escaping from somewhere. “Father” is played by Will Arnett.

NetflixWill Arnett as ‘Father.’

By the end of the first season, all become clear.


“Mother” is played by Cobie Smulders, who starred in “How I Met Your Mother” with Neil Patrick Harris.

NetflixCobie Smulders as ‘Mother.’

Are they really the Baudelaire parents, or someone else? The answer becomes more clear as the show’s first eight episodes unfold.


Roger Bart, of “Desperate Housewives” fame, plays Vice Principal Nero.

NetflixRoger Bart as Vice Principal Nero.

He oversees the Baudelaire orphans’ care on the “Austere Academy” episodes at the beginning of the second season. Bart also had a recurring role on “How I Met Your Mother.”


Sara Rue, who fans may know from “Mum” or “American Housewife,” plays Olivia Caliban.

Joseph Lederer/NetflixSara Rue as Olivia Caliban.

She first appeared on season two as the librarian and later joined VFD.


“In Living Colour” comedian David Alan Grier plays Hal.

NetflixDavid Alan Grier as Hal.

Hal is the records keeper at the Heimlich Hospital, where the Baudelaires escape to after things don’t work out at the Village of Fowl Devotees.


On the second season, we’re introduced to Esmé Squalor, played by Lucy Punch.

NetflixLucy Punch as Esmé Squalor.

Punch made her name as a comedic actress in “Hot Fuzz,” “Bad Teacher,” and “Into the Woods.”


“Arrested Development” and “Veep” actor Tony Hale plays Jerome Squalor.

NetflixTony Hale plays another Baudelaire guardian.

He’s Esmé’s husband, a wealthy society man who adopts the orphans in the “Ersatz Elevator” segment.


The Village of Fowl Devotees Elders are played by Carol Mansell, Mindy Sterling, and Ken Jenkins.

NetflixCarol Mansell, Mindy Sterling, and Ken Jenkins on the series.

Mansell was on “Down To Earth” in the ’80s and has had few roles since.

Sterling is known for starring in the “Austin Powers” movies as Frau Farbissina and was on “iCarly,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “The Goldbergs.”

Jenkins is best known for playing Dr. Kelso on “Scrubs.”


Nathan Fillion plays Jacques Snicket, the brother of Lemony.

NetflixNathan Fillion at the premiere of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,’ in which he had a cameo.

You might know Fillion from the cult classic TV shows “Castle,” “Firefly,” and “Serenity.” Jacques is yet another member of the secret society VFD trying to help the Baudelaires on the second season.


Robbie Amell plays Kevin.

Eike Schroter/NetflixAmell also has a role in Netflix’s ‘Game Over, Man.’

Amell is in a bunch of shows from The CW, including “The Tomorrow People” and “The Flash.” As Kevin, he’s an ambidextrous “freak” at the Caligari Carnival.


Barry Sonnenfeld, showrunner of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” plays Ike Anwhistle, Aunt Josephine’s husband.

Eike Schroter/NetflixJosephine and Ike during a flashback.

Sonnenfeld has directed some episodes of the series.


Allison Williams is briefly shown at the end of season two and later introduced as Kit Snicket on season three.

Eike Schroter/NetflixAllison Williams has a major role in the third and final season of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events.’

Kit is Lemony and Jacques’ sister.


Richard E. Grant and Beth Grant (no relation) play the villains Man with a Beard but No Hair and Woman with Hair but No Beard, respectively.

NetflixRichard E. Grant and Beth Grant as the villains.

Richard E. Grant may be recognised for his roles in “Logan” or on “Downton Abbey” and “Game of Thrones.” He was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?.” Beth Grant is known for starring on “The Mindy Project” and “Jericho.”


Max Greenfield plays the Denouement brothers — Frank, Ernest, and Dewey.

NetflixMax Greenfield as both Frank and Ernest.

Greenfield is well-known for playing Schmidt on “New Girl.” He was also on “Veronica Mars” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.”


Morena Baccarin plays none other than Beatrice Baudelaire, the children’s mother.

Eike Schroter/NetflixMorena Baccarin as Beatrice.

Baccarin is known for starring in the “Deadpool” movies and in “Gotham.”


Peter MacNicol is barely recognisable in his beard to play Ishmael.

NetflixPeter MacNicol as Ishmael.

MacNicol has been on a number of shows, including “Ally McBeal,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Veep.” He was also in “Addams Family Values.”

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.