The central character, Pierre is the ungainly illegitimate son of a dying nobleman. After inheriting vast wealth, Pierre attempts to navigate his way through high Russian society alongside his demon of a wife Helene (below).
US actor Dano is best known for his film work in movies like Little Miss Sunshine, There Will be Blood, 12 Years a Slave and Prisoners, and recently received acclaim for his role as Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy. He’s about to star alongside Daniel Radcliffe in surreal drama Swiss Army Man.
Natasha Rostova (Lily James)
The charming, romantic and lively daughter of the Rostov family, Natasha lives a charmed life. Seeing love blossom all around her, she is ready to discover it for herself – and believes she has found a willing partner in widower Andrei. That is, until Anatole comes on the scene…
Heading straight from her role as Lady Rose in ITV’s Downton Abbey to another period drama, James now has her sights set on the movies. She recently starred alongside Richard Madden in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, and headlines horror-period comedy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as a brain-bashing Elizabeth Bennet.
Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (James Norton)
A philosophical soldier who has become cynical in the Napoleonic Wars; the son of Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky. He returns from battle only to watch his wife die in childbirth – but now he has another love of his life, Natasha.
Norton hit the big-time in 2014 when he played murderer Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley, and since then he’s barely left our screens. Appearing in Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Life in Squares and starring as a crime-fighting vicar in Grantchester, War and Peace is another significant feather in his cap for 2016.
Previously, you may have seen him pop up as Henry Alveston in Death Comes to Pemberley or Onegin in Doctor Who.
Dolokhov (Tom Burke)
A cold Russian Army officer, Dolokhov’s affair with Pierre’s wife Helene almost ended in him being killed following a duel with Pierre. After cleaning out Nikolai (below) at cards, what mischief will he cause now?
Burke is chiefly known as lead Musketeer Athos in BBC historical drama the Musketeers, and was also recently seen in Channel 4 thriller Utopia. Before that, he appeared in dramas such as The Hour, Great Expectations, Casanova and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
Prince Vassily Kuragin (Stephen Rea)
A self-seeking and manipulative nobleman, determined that his children marry well. Kuragin has already secured the marriage of his daughter Helene to the wealthy Pierre: now he has wayward son Anatole to deal with.
Currently appearing as Inspector Bucket in another BBC costume drama (Dickensian), veteran Irish actor Stephen Rea will also be familiar from recent parts in The Honourable Woman, The Shadow Line and Utopia. Rea is also well-known for his starring role in 1992 film The Crying Game, which bagged him an Oscar nomination.
Helene Kuragina (Tuppence Middleton)
The beautiful, imperious daughter of Vassily, who seduced Pierre into marriage before hooking up with the deadly Dolokhov. Now she has a new lover in her sights: the youthful, ambitious Boris. Not only that, she is helping her brother Anatole try to seduce the naive Natasha.
Another Dickensian star (where she plays Miss Havisham), Tuppence Middleton has also recently appeared in Netflix series Sense8, Channel 4’s Black Mirror, Spies of Warsaw and films including The Imitation Game and Jupiter Ascending.
Boris Mikhailovna (Aneurin Barnard)
Ambitious and calculating but from a less wealthy background, he is determined to rise through the ranks by fair means or foul – and with his mother’s help, he might just get his wish.
Welsh actor Barnard is probably most familiar as future King Richard III in TV mini-series The White Queen, though he’s also appeared in film and TV roles as varied as photographer David Bailey in We’ll Take Manhattan and Legend, Cilla Black’s husband and manager in her biopic Cilla and Captain George Bisset in The Scandalous Lady W.
Anatole Kuragin (Callum Turner)
Vassily’s son, a hedonistic military officer whose father wants him to find a wealthy wife. He has already spoiled his chances with Princess Marya Bolkonskaya – although there are many more ‘enticing’ options out there.
A star of E4 teen mystery Glue last year, Turner has also appeared in roles in Ripper Street, The Borgias, Green Room and Victor Frankenstein.
Anna Pavlovna (Gillian Anderson)
A rich, unmarried St Petersburg socialite, hostess of the salon where society meets, greets and plots.
X-Files star Anderson is no stranger to period dramas, having gained plaudits for her roles as Lady Dedlock in Bleak House and Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, as well as Mrs Castaway in The Crimson Petal and the White. Still, her more recent roles have focused on the here-and-now, including a police officer in The Fall and a psychiatrist in US series Hannibal.
Nikolai Rostov (Jack Lowden)
The reckless eldest son of the Rostov family, who seeks adventure on the battlefield against the French but brings his family to the brink of bankruptcy following a game of cards with Dolokhov.
25-year-old actor Lowden has more experience on the stage than on screen, including an Olivier award-winning turn in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts in 2013 – but that could be about to change.
Apart from War and Peace, Lowden’s recent screen credits include Thomas Wyatt in Wolf Hall, Adam Roebuck in The Bridge remakes The Tunnel and Dobkins in Joe Wright movie Pan, and he’ll play Tony Benn in 2016 movie A United Kingdom.
Sonya Rostova (Aisling Loftus)
The orphaned ward of her cousins the Rostovs, and the childhood sweetheart of Nikolai.
Also appearing with War and Peace co-star Lily James in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Loftus may be most familiar to period drama fans as Mr Selfridge’s Agnes Leclaire (née Towler). She’s also popped up in roles in the 2011 TV version of the Borrowers, Good Cop, Page Eight and Five Daughters.
Count Ilya Rostov (Adrian Edmonson)
The genial but spendthrift patriarch of the Rostov family, always willing to buy his son Nikolai out of a tricky situation.
Alternative comedy star Adrian “Ade” Edmonson rose to fame as Vyvyan in The Young Ones and in various parts for The Comic Strip Presents, though in recent years he’s moved into more serious dramatic roles including that of DCI Warner in the first series of Prey.
Countess Natalya Rostova (Greta Scacchi)
As profligate as her husband, but with a hard-headed view of her children’s financial security.
Italian-Australian actress Scacchi has had a long and varied career, winning an Emmy for her portrayal of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna of Russia in 1996 TV movie Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny and recently appearing in the 2008 remake of Brideshead Revisited, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, film The Falling and Miss Austen Regrets.
Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky (Jim Broadbent)
An old-fashioned recluse, distrustful and often cruel towards his only daughter, Marya. However, even he can’t hide his satisfaction when she rejects the advances of Anatole Kuragin.
Oscar and Bafta-winning actor Jim Broadbent has had so many iconic roles it’s hard to know where to begin. Whether it’s appearing in mass-market hits like the Harry Potter films, acclaimed dramas like Longford and the recent London Spy or delivering brilliant comic turns in projects like Hot Fuzz, Bridget Jones’ diary and Little Voice, he’s been a reliable presence in British acting for decades.
Marya Bolkonskaya (Jessie Buckley)
The plain, lonely daughter of Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky, whose Christian values help her bear her father’s unscrupulous nature. She sees through Anatole’s advances, and promises to stay by his father.
Irish singer and actress Buckley came to fame by an unusual route, coming second in BBC talent-show contest I’d Do Anything and subsequently starring in West End show A Little Night Music. Later graduating from RADA, Kerry went on to play various roles on stage and also acted in Endeavour and Rosamunde Pilcher’s Shades of Love on TV.
Anna Mikhailovna (Rebecca Front)
A real political player, she knows how to play the game and advance her family’s standing.
Best known for her role as hapless politician Nicola Murray in The Thick Of It, Front has also starred in series like Lewis, Humans, Psychobitches, Up the Women, The Wrong Mans, Grandma’s House and Doctor Who.