Keegan-Michael Key’s secret weapon? Its astonishing range


While Keegan-Michael Key is best known for his comedic genius, the Detroit actor has enough talent to handle any type of assignment.

Key has performed on Broadway, played Shakespeare at the Public Theater in New York City, and tackled television and film genres ranging from musicals to action-adventure. And that is in addition to his status as a comedy icon for his work on “Key & Peele”.

Now that Key’s latest project, the musical “Schmigadoon!”, Has been released on AppleTV +, it’s a good time to catch up with other roles that show off his impressive versatility.

Gustafson in “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (2020). As an evil toy maker and fashion dandy, Key reveals the melancholy void within his selfish character in this dazzling holiday musical from Netflix.

Keegan-Michael Enter "Jingle jangle" like the unscrupulous Gustafson, who dominates the toy trade.

Principal Tom Hawkins in “The Prom” (2020). In this Netflix adaptation of the Broadway show, Key sings a ballad to multiple Oscar winner Meryl Streep. Yes, he can steal scenes from the movie queen.

From left to right, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Keegan-Michael Key in a scene from "Prom."

Ethan Turner in “Friends of College” (2017-2019). Yet another Netflix project, the series gave Key a chance to play a conflicting character. He’s a writer trying to start a family with his wife, but he walks away from her with an old friend. Yet you love him, even when you don’t.

Annie Parisse and Keegan-Michael enter "Friends of the College." (Barbara Nitke / Netflix)

Coyle in “The Predator” (2018). This latest installment in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sci-fi franchise features Key as an ex-Marine alongside Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Jane, and Trevante Rhodes. More action hero roles for him, please.

Boyd Holbrook, left, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan Michael-Key, Thomas Jane and Augusto Aguiliera in "The predator."

Jack in “Don’t Think Twice” (2016). While Mike Birbiglia’s study of an improv comedy troupe deserved greater success, it gave Key a plum role as a member whose sudden fame caused tension within the group.

Keegan-Michael Key, center, stars in

Mark Rodriguez in “Playing House” (2014-2017). The underrated American comedy about two best friends (Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair) raising a baby together highlighted Key’s fondness as a St. Clair high school girlfriend.

Jessica St. Clair, Keegan-Michael Key and Lennon Parham from

August snow in “August snow” (to be confirmed). Expectations are high for this ABC series in the works of Key, who stars as an executive producer. It is based on the novels by award-winning Detroit author Stephen Mack Jones. Key as a former detective? It is necessarily striking.

Keegan-Michael Key

Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at [email protected]

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