We Need to Revisit the “Bad Blood” Music Video and Its Super-Sized Cast
Try to travel back to May 2015. Fox’s “Empire” is finishing its first season, and “Mad Men” is wrapping up its last. “Fifty Shades of Grey” has lit up the box office. “Hamilton” is ending its Off-Broadway run and gearing up to take Broadway by storm. And Taylor Swift has just begun her “1989” World Tour. How did she celebrate that? By releasing the music video for her song “Bad Blood” – officially “Bad Blood” featuring Kendrick Lamar. And the music video itself was jam-packed with celebrity cameos, featuring primarily faces from Swift’s group of friends, known colloquially at the time as her “squad.”
Unsurprisingly, eight years later the singer isn’t quite as close with everyone featured in the video. But with the release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” – the rerecorded version of the 2014 album that first brought “Bad Blood” to us – we thought we’d take a trip back to the colossal music video.
The song itself is widely believed to be about singer Katy Perry, and the duo had a years-long feud. It all traced back to three dancers on Swift’s “Red” tour leaving her to go dance for Perry’s Prismatic World Tour. Swift ended up explaining the song in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, saying that it was about someone who, “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not.” And then, this un-named person “did something so horrible” and Swift realized they were “just straight-up enemies.” And the video itself has a lot of references to Perry. (Don’t worry, the pair have since made up, and Perry appeared in the music video for “You Need to Calm Down” in 2019.)
Ahead, you can rewatch the “Bad Blood” music video and see the full cast list, which we promise has some major surprises.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Selena Gomez
Gomez’s role as Arsyn, the betrayer, pokes fun at how close she and Swift really are. Gomez revealed that the video was supposed to have a different ending, telling MTV in June 2015, “It was actually funny because the video was originally going to end with us just looking at each other, and then [director Joseph Kahn] came in and was like, ‘I think it would be really cool if you guys just went for it.'” She explained, “And I was like, ‘I love you,’ and she was like, ‘I love you, too,’ and then we just slap each other. It was fun.” She also told the outlet she has “no idea” if Catastrophe or Arsyn won in the end.
Swift and Gomez’s friendship goes back to 2008, and it’s still going strong. Gomez brought her sister Gracie to Swift’s Eras tour and wrote on Instagram at the time, “Thank you bestie for having me and my sissy transport into your mystical, euphoric and special world. Proud to know you! love you forever and always.”
"Bad Blood" Cast: Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba plays Domino in the video and dished on filming it during a 2015 appearance on “Watch What Happens Live.” She admitted she didn’t “really” know Swift before filming the video. Of Swift, she said, “She’s so nice. . . . I just really didn’t expect that.” Swift has never revealed why Alba was chosen. In August, Alba’s whole family attended the Eras tour.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Ellen Pompeo
Swift is a well-documented “Grey’s Anatomy” fan; she even named her cat after its main character, Meredith! So that’s why she asked star Ellen Pompeo to play Luna in the video. Pompeo told Jimmy Kimmel in 2016, “Her people called my people and said, ‘Would you like to be in this video?’ And I was like, ‘Of course, that would be so fun. There’s an old lady section? I’m down,'” per Entertainment Weekly. Pompeo attended the Eras tour in March.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Hayley Williams
Paramore singer Hayley Williams plays the Crimson Curse in “Bad Blood,” and Swift and the singer are longtime friends. Williams told Stereogum in 2020 about filming the video, “I think we can all clearly see that I don’t fit in. It was really f*cking cool. Like I had to do choreography for that fight scene, but then they brought in a stunt double for the things I couldn’t do.”
She explained, “I definitely felt like I was in a world I didn’t belong in. I feel that way anytime Paramore’s ever done something that’s mega mainstream.” She continued, “But when I stepped onto that set for “Bad Blood,” I was like, ‘Holy sh*t, I’m in deep water.’ I don’t know. And Taylor was so sweet to me. We started hanging out after the big Kanye thing happened.”
At the time of the interview, she said “I don’t really know her that well anymore,” but the pair have since rekindled their connection. Paramore opened some Eras Tour dates this year (and will join her again for the European leg in 2024). And Williams joined Swift for the “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” vault track “Castles Crumbling.”
"Bad Blood" Cast: Serayah
Serayah and Swift first connected through the video. The actor, who then starred on “Empire,” told Billboard in 2015, “Well, initially, her management contacted my management, they proposed the idea to me. And I completely loved it and so we went from there. It seemed like [from] the ideas for it and the treatment for the video, I was just like ‘Oh, my gosh! This is so dope. I can’t wait.'” In the video, she plays Dilemma. Serayah also joined some of the video’s cast at the MTV VMAs that August. It seems Swift and Serayah have not remained close, however.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Lily Aldridge
Model Lily Aldridge plays Frostbyte in the video. The pair were close friends at the time. Aldridge was spotted in the VIP tent at Swift’s Eras Tour earlier in 2023, so it seems they’re still on good terms.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham plays Lucky Fiori in the video. Their friendship goes back to 2012 when Dunham tweeted about how much she loved “Red,” and Swift responded with how much she loves “Girls,” per Vulture. Dunham slid into Swift’s DMs, and their friendship was born.
At the time of “Bad Blood”‘s release, Dunham was in a relationship with Swift’s frequent collaborator, Jack Antonoff, and though the pair split in 2018, Swift and Dunham have stayed friends post-breakup. In 2021, Swift was a bridesmaid at Dunham’s wedding. And, of course, Dunham has also been spotted at the Eras Tour.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Gigi Hadid
Gigi Hadid plays Slay-Z in “Bad Blood.” The pair apparently met through fellow model Karlie Kloss sometime around 2014, but Swift and Hadid’s friendship is even longer lasting at this point. The duo are often spotted out and about together, and of course, Hadid has been spotted at the Eras Tour, where she’s a vocal fan. “I’m a psychopath at a Taylor show,” she told E! in March. “I go nuts. I’m not cool at all. I’m like the most embarrassing friend.”
"Bad Blood" Cast: Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar plays Welvin Da Great and joined Swift on the track. He told Ellen Degeneres in 2015 that the track came together after Swift reached out. “I’ve always been a fan of hers, and she was a fan of my music and she reached out and we got it done,” he said, per E!.
“Bad Blood” feat. Kendrick Lamar is currently not on the “1989 (TV)” track list, which has a lot of fans curious about if Swift has more surprises up her sleeve since previous “Taylor’s Version” albums have featured all the original collaborations.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Karlie Kloss
Karlie Kloss plays Knockout in “Bad Blood.” At the time, Swift and Kloss were extremely close and were often spotted together in public and on social media. However, at some point, it seems the pair fell out. Swift didn’t attend Kloss’s 2018 wedding, and some fans think the drama has something to do with the model getting close to manager Scooter Braun (who called Kloss “one of the kindest, greatest, most amazing people I know” in a 2019 birthday post). Some fans think these lyrics from the 2020 “Evermore” track allude to Kloss: “When the words of a sister come back in whispers/ That prove she was not. In fact what she seemed, not a twin from your dreams / She’s a crook who was caught.” Suffice it to say, their intense connection and the sudden split have fueled a lot of fan speculation.
Nonetheless, Kloss attended the Eras Tour, though notably, she did not sit in the VIP tent.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding plays Destructa X in the video. Swift apparently met her then-boyfriend Calvin Harris through Goulding. It’s not clear how close Goulding and Swift are now, though Goulding praised “Anti-Hero,” calling it “genius,” last October.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Mariska Hargitay
Swift is a big “Law & Order: SVU” fan and even named one of her cats Olivia after Mariska Hargitay, so she invited the actor to play Justice in the music video.
Hargitay remains a proud Swiftie, and was spotted at the Eras tour and at the premiere of the Eras Tour movie. She told Entertainment Tonight of the singer on Oct. 20, “She’s pure magic. There’s nothing she can’t do. It’s been so beautiful to reconnect to that innocence, you know? I think Taylor gives such a beautiful message to kids and unlocks these girls’ emotions.”
“I see how it affects my daughter and she cries and just opens up like a flower,” the star continued. “And [I see] how meaningful it is, and I’m grateful to be part of it and watch that journey.”
"Bad Blood" Cast: Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne plays Mother Chucker in the video, another one of the many models who joined in the fun. She and Swift were spotted hanging out at Antonoff’s August wedding together.
"Bad Blood" Cast: Cindy Crawford
"Bad Blood" Cast: Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee Steinfeld plays The Trinity – technically a trio of people. The actor told Stereogum about the experience in 2022, “I was so grateful and so honored to be just in Taylor’s world – aren’t we all, by the way, to exist at a time alongside her genius? And to be in that ‘Bad Blood’ video was like, quite possibly one of the coolest days.”
She continued, “Just being a part of her world and her vision, and she has such a strong one for almost every single thing she does. I find that she is an artist that I reference often when it comes to so many aspects in my music career. What an honor to be a part of all that, how much fun, too. And looking back on it, it’s wild. It is crazy. That was a big thing. I mean, to be a part of that era was pretty special.”