No pop star has mastered the social-media game as well as Taylor Swift. She’s been rolling out teaser posters for her “Bad Blood” music video in advance of the clip’s premiere – during Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards – since early May, spotlighting the star-studded posse of friends who will appear in what looks to be an action-themed video.
Although the meanings behind Swift’s songs have always been a subject of speculation, the inspiration behind “Bad Blood” and its bitter lyrics have generated more curiosity than usual. It began when the singer revealed to Rolling Stone that the tune was about another famous female artist. “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not,” Swift said, refusing to name names. “She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think, ‘Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?'”
The pop star then revealed in the same article that most of her ire came from a business move that the other artist made back in 2013. “She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour,” Swift said. “She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I’m surprisingly non-confrontational — you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It’s awkward, and I don’t like it.”
Now it looks like Swift’s “Bad Blood” video will feature a similar girl-versus-girl feud, with characters Catastrophe (played by Swift) and Knockout (Swift’s best friend Karlie Kloss) at the center of it. “Blank Space” director Joseph Kahn helmed the clip, for which he pushed Swift to be her most self-aware and vengeful. “I love working with [Swift]. She is the bomb,” the director posted on Twitter along with one of Swift’s posters.
Each of the teaser posters is reminiscent of the 2005 neo-noir film Sin City, bolstered by the fact that Sin City actress Jessica Alba will portray “Domino” in the video and that Swift and Martha Hunt are calling themselves “assassins.” Incidentally, Sin City also starred Jaime King, who has already declared Swift the godmother of her as-yet-unborn child.
Alba is not the only star set to make an appearance in the video. Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo, Law & Order: SVU’s Mariska Hargitay and rapper Kendrick Lamar have also been confirmed. And even though those stars aren’t often associated with the singer’s inner circle of friends, it’s worth noting that Swift’s cats Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson are named after Pompeo and Hargitay’s famous TV characters, and the singer has often praised Lamar’s music, even telling Rolling Stone that his song “Backseat Freestyle” kept her calm during her first year living in New York City.
Below, see the cast list from the “Bad Blood” video. According to Swift, each actor chose their character’s name and persona.
Taylor Swift as Catastrophe
Selena Gomez as Arsyn
Karlie Kloss as Knockout
Kendrick Lamar as Welvin Da Great
Martha Hunt as HomeSlice
Jessica Alba as Domino
Serayah as Dilemma
Lena Dunham as Lucky Fiori
Hailee Steinfeld as The Trinity
Ellie Goulding as Destructa X
GiGi Hadid as Slay-Z
Hayley Williams as The Crimson Curse
Zendaya as Cut-Throat
Lily Aldridge as Frostbyte
Ellen Pompeo as Luna
Mariska Hargitay as Justice
Cara Delevingne as Mother Chucker
Cindy Crawford as Headmistress
Selena Gomez as Arsyn