Last month, fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books were blown away by the unveiling of an incredibly starry cast for the BBC’s TV adaptation, including James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Cosmo, Clarke Peters, Georgina Campbell, Anne-Marie Duff, and rising talent Dafne Keen as the story’s young hero Lyra.
But there was one key character conspicuous by their absence. Where was Serafina Pekkala?
Well RadioTimes.com is pleased to reveal that the witch queen has now been cast and that she will be played by Ruta Gedmintas.
Fantasy fans will know Gedmintas from her role as vampire-fighting computer hacker Dutch in Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain, while others may recognise her from BBC2 comedy Stag, in which she played psychotic killer Sophie.
And if you’re not familiar with Gedmintas, but do know His Dark Materials, you only need to look at her to see that the BBC have knocked it out of the park with this bit of casting.
Gedmintas’s hypnotic eyes and ethereal quality perfectly conjure up the Queen of the Lake Enara clan of witches and she is arguably closer in colouring to the blonde Serafina of the books than Eva Green, who played the character in film adaptation The Golden Compass.
“I am delighted to join the cast for His Dark Materials,” said Gedmintas. “Philip Pullman created a magical universe filled with imagination and complexity that is a dream for me as an actor to delve in to, and I am so excited to be part of this incredible creative team bringing these books to the screen.”
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child writer Jack Thorne has adapted the series, with The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper helming the project.
It will kick off with an eight-part run covering the first novel, Northern Lights.
There’s no air date as yet but principal photography has begun in Cardiff, and filming will also reportedly take place, as you would hope, among the dreaming spires of Oxford, where the first instalment begins.