Even before it premiered, Dickinson had definitely become one of the most curious new TV shows of the year. As if reimagining the life of 19th century poet Emily Dickinson through a millennial, Instagram-ready lens wasn't wild enough, the coming-of-age series also delivered some of the most unexpected casting announcements ever. Hailee Steinfeld plays a rebellious Emily Dickinson, John Mulaney takes on poet Henry David Thoreau, and perhaps most shockingly of all, Wiz Khalifa plays the personification of death in the series. These tweets about Wiz Khalifa as Death in Dickinson prove viewers were digging the rapper's spooky new role.
Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers for the premiere episode of Dickinson. Wiz Khalifa's character may not have appeared too much in Dickinson, but he sure was mentioned a lot. That really should not come as a surprise, though, since Emily Dickinson was famously fascinated by the concept of death — a trait that also defines Hailee Steinfeld's version of the poet.
Each episode of the show is based on one of Dickinson's poems, and the premiere showed the protagonist working on one of her most famous pieces, "Because I could not stop for Death." The poem depicts an imagined carriage ride with Death, which Dickinson brought to life with a literal interpretation. After a heated confrontation with her father that revealed just how stifled Dickinson was in her time — he wouldn't allow his daughter to publish her poems and rails that a woman's place is as a homemaker — Emily took solace in a ghostly carriage with Death.
Wiz Khalifa's scene was brief, but it was definitely memorable. As Dickinson mourned her unpublished works and longed for Death to finally come for her for good, Khalifa's Death informed her that she would go down as the most well-known Dickinson of all and achieve immortality through her fame. The morbid encounter then led to Dickinson in her room writing out the opening lines to "Because I could not stop for Death" as the episode ended.
Of course, the casting choice was pretty surprising for multiple reasons. First, because Death's physical appearance in Dickinson sets the tone for the show, signaling to viewers that the series will dip into fantasy time and again. On top of that, Khalifa himself is not really known for his acting roles, and this marks his first acting gig on a TV series. Prior to Dickinson, Khalifa's acting credits only consist of co-starring in the 2012 comedy Mac & Devin Go to High School with Snoop Dogg, and providing a voice for an American Dad episode. Khalifa has landed his first series regular role, though — he will be a lead voice actor in Fox's upcoming animated comedy series Duncanville, which was created by and stars Amy Poehler and will premiere in early 2020.
While Khalifa's casting as Death may have been surprising, a lot of the fans who have already watched Dickinson are really digging his chill take on such a dark character. Check out some of the responses below:
Thankfully, viewers can also look forward to seeing Khalifa's portrayal of Death once again later in the series — but don't worry, I won't spoil when he makes his return, in case you haven't gotten there yet.
Dickinson is available to stream now on Apple TV+.