The TV adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy returns to our screens this week, and once again there’s a tremendous list of actors involved in the BBC series.
Check out the starry cast – which includes X-Men movie stars, BBC darlings, musical maestros and a surprising amount of people from Stan Lee’s Lucky Man – below, as well as a refresher on exactly who they’re playing.
Read on for everything you need to know about the stars who have appeared in both seasons so far, starting with the leading lady herself.
Dafne Keen is Lyra Belacqua
A young orphan raised by the scholars of Jordan College, Oxford, Lyra’s never happier than roaming the city with her friends – but revelations about her true heritage will take her on a dangerous journey, where her talent with the future-predicting alethiometer will be put to the ultimate test. Her dæmon, Pantalaimon, has yet to settle in one form.
British-Spanish actor Keen shot onto the world stage after starring as the young female clone/daughter of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in his final X-Men movie Logan.
She has also appeared in British and Spanish coproduction The Refugees alongside her father Will Keen (below), and will star alongside Andy Garcia in Puerto Rican comedy drama Ana.
Amir Wilson is Will Parry
A young boy from our own modern world, Will crosses paths with Lyra in second novel The Subtle Knife, where he becomes a main character and travels between various worlds.
Young actor Wilson previously appeared in short film Special Delivery, TV series The Letter for the King and Arthurian film The Kid Who Would Be King, the latter in an uncredited role. Alongside His Dark Materials series two, 2020 has seen him star in the remake of The Secret Garden.
Ruth Wilson is Mrs Coulter
The beautiful and elegant Mrs Coulter enchants Lyra, but proves to have a dark side when her true schemes are revealed. Her dæmon takes the form of a golden monkey.
Wilson is probably best known for her roles as Alice Morgan in BBC crime drama Luther and as Alison Lockhart in US drama The Affair. She has also appeared in TV dramas including Jane Eyre (in which she played the title role), Stephen Poliakoff’s Capturing Mary, Suburban Shootout, The Prisoner, Small Island and Mrs Wilson, which was based on her own family history.
Film roles include Rebecca in The Lone Ranger, Margaret Goff in Saving Mr Banks, Caroline in The Little Stranger and Madeleine in Suite Française.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is Lee Scoresby
A Texan aeronaut and adventurer, Scoresby finds himself pulled into Lyra’s adventure when he’s hired to transport her across the north. His dæmon, Hester, takes the form of an Arctic Hare.
Miranda is probably best known for composing, writing and starring in smash-hit stage musical Hamilton, which made him a pop culture sensation following the earlier success of his musical In the Heights.
As an actor he has appeared in series including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sesame Street, How I Met Your Mother and BoJack Horseman, and he has also starred in films like Mary Poppins Returns and the upcoming In the Heights adaptation.
He has provided music for films including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Moana and the upcoming Little Mermaid live-action remake.
Andrew Scott is Jopari/John Parry
An explorer and shaman who also goes by Stanislaus Grumman, Jopari has a mysterious past and a secret connection to another character. His dæmon is an osprey called Sayan Kötör.
Best known for playing the villainous Moriarty in Sherlock, Irish actor Scott has also appeared in James Bond movie Spectre, Black Mirror, Fleabag, Pride and many other films and TV shows. His character properly appears for the first time in His Dark Materials’ second series, though a photo of him was seen in the first series.
Simone Kirby is Mary Malone
Mary is an astrophysicist and neuropsychologist who is investigating how dark matter affects human consciousness, whom Lyra meets when she first travels to Will’s Oxford as she attempts to learn more about dust.
Irish actor Kirby has previously appeared in a range of film and TV productions, with notable roles including Oonagh in Ken Loach film Jimmy’s Hall, Irene O’Donnell in series 2 of Peaky Blinders, and Tyva Hightopp in Alice Through The Looking Glass.
Ariyon Bakare is Lord Boreal
An associate of Mrs Coulter, Lord Boreal has a mysterious and dark purpose when he crosses paths with Lyra. His dæmon is a serpent.
Bakare appeared as the lion-like Leandro in Doctor Who, the demon Ligur in Good Omens and the haunted manservant Stephen Black in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Other credits include The Dark Knight, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Life, Carnival Row and Jupiter Ascending.
James McAvoy is Lord Asriel
A fierce and formidable man from an aristocratic background, Lord Asriel plans a momentous scientific expedition that could bring serious repercussions down on Lyra. His dæmon, Stelmaria, takes the form of a Snow Leopard.
Breaking out in Channel 4 drama Shameless (alongside now ex-wife and His Dark Materials co-star Anne-Marie Duff, below), McAvoy is probably now best known for his role as the telepathic Professor X in the X-Men movie franchise and as the Chronicles of Narnia’s faun Mr Tumnus.
He has also had lead roles in films including Split, Glass, Victor Frankenstein, Filth, Starter for 10, Atonement, Becoming Jane and the upcoming horror sequel It Chapter Two.
Voice credits include Arthur Christmas, Watership Down and the two Gnomeo and Juliet movies.
Jade Anouka is Ruta Skadi
In the books Queen Ruta Skadi is the queen of the Lake Lubana clan of witches who had previously taken Lord Asriel as a lover. She’s been given a slightly altered role in the series.
Anouka’s past credits include roles on ITV dramas Trauma and Cleaning Up, while she has also worked extensively on the stage. She’s also had small roles on Doctor Who, Chewing Gum, and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.
Terence Stamp is Giacomo Paridisi
Giacomo Paradisi is a resident of Cittàgazze, and is the bearer of the subtle knife when Will and Lyra meet him at the Torre degli Angeli.
Sophie Okonedo is Xaphania
Xaphania is the leader of the rebel angels who ally with Lord Asriel to overthrow The Authority
Okonedo originally appears in just a voice role in the series – and you may recognise her voice from a number of high profile TV and film appearances including Doctor Who, Hotel Rwanda, Wild Rose, Ratched, Undercover, The Hollow Crown and the upcoming movie Death on the Nile.
Bella Ramsey is Angelica
Angelica was a young girl who lives in Cittàgazze and is one of the first people Will and Lyra encounter in the seemingly deserted city.
This is not Ramsey’s first appearance in a mega fantasy series – she previously played Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones. Other roles have included Mildred Hubble in CBBC’s The Worst Witch and the voice of Hilda in the Netflix series of the same name.
Ella Schrey-Yeats is Paola
Angelica’s sister, Paola is another Citagazze resident who Will and Lyra meet. In the books, this character is a boy called Paolo, but this has been changed for the series.
This is by far Schrey-Yeats’ biggest role to date, although she also has some stage credits to her name.
Frank Bourke is Fra Pavel
A Magisterium official with the ability to read the alethiometer, Fra Pavel is a useful man – but he holds a secret. His dæmon is a rat.
Bourke has previously appeared in Dumbo, The Last Kingdom,1916 Seachtar Dearmadta,Bone in the Throat and Mr Nice among other projects.
Ruta Gedmintas is Serafina Pekkala
The clan queen of the waitches of Lake Enara, Serafina forms a close bond with Lyra as she helps her on her journey. Her dæmon is a snow goose called Kaisa.
Gedmintas has previously starred in The Strain, Ripper Street, The Borgias, Lip Service, The Innocence Project, The Tudors, Do No Harm and Stag.
Will Keen is Father MacPhail
MacPhail is the president of the Consistorial Court of Discipline, an important part of the Church, and he has designs to track down Lyra or have her assassinated. His dæmon is a lizard.
Keen may be most familiar to viewers as royal press secretary Michael Adeane, though he has also recently appeared in Deep State, Genius, Genius and Victor Frankenstein.
Other credits include The Scandalous Lady W, Wolf Hall, The Musketeers, Silk, Sherlock, Titanic, Garrow’s Law and Spanish series Dime quién soy.
Keen is the real-life father of Lyra actor Dafne Keen, and has previously acted with her in British/Spanish drama The Refugees.
David Suchet is Kaisa
The dæmon of witch queen Serafina Pekkala, Kaisa appears as a gyrfalcon in the TV series – despite being a snow goose in the books.
One of the most revered British actors of his generation, David Suchet is perhaps best known as his role as the eponymous Belgian detective in Agatha Christie’s Poirot – a role he held from 1989-2013.
Helen McCrory is Stelmaria
Lord Asriel’s dæmon, an elegant snow leopard.
Veteran character actor McCrory is probably best known for her roles as Aunt Polly in crime drama Peaky Blinders and as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.
Other screen credits include MotherFatherSon, Doctor Who, Penny Dreadful, Life, Skyfall, Hugo, Fantastic Mr Fox, Becoming Jane and many more. McCrory is also known for her acclaimed theatrical work.
Joe Tandberg is Iorek Byrnison
Iorek is an armoured bear who has been exiled from his home in Svalbard and forms a close bond with Lyra and Lee Scoresby.
Tandberg will add the voice of Iorek to a voice resume that already includes work as Josera Snow in the video game Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series. He also starred in Netflix series The Innocents.
James Cosmo is Farder Coram
The second-in-command to Gyptian King John Faa, Coram is a staunch ally to Lyra. His dæmon, Sophonax, is a larger than average, ‘autumn-coloured’ cat.
Cosmo will be familiar to many as the no-nonsense Lord Commander Mormont in TV series Game of Thrones, though he has also appeared in Sons of Anarchy, SS-GB, Chernobyl, Hold the Sunset, Shetland, Merlin and many other projects.
Alongside James McAvoy’s Mr Tumnus he played Father Christmas in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and other film appearances include Wonder Woman, T2: trainspotting, Ben-Hur, Outlaw King, Troy, Babe: Pig in the City and many others.
Anne-Marie Duff is Ma Costa
A Gyptian woman whose son goes missing, Costa has a deep connection to Lyra from their shared past. Her dæmon is a hawk.
Rising to promise as Fiona Gallagher in Channel 4’s Shameless, Duff has appeared in TV series including The Virgin Queen, Margot, Parade’s End, From Darkness and Watership Down, and films like Suffragette, On Chesil Beach, Nowhere Boy and Notes on a Scandal.
Lucian Msamati is John Faa
The Lord/King of the western Gyptians, John Faa is a wise and brave leader and close friends with Farder Coram. His dæmon is a black crow.
A British-Tanzanian film, television and theatre actor, Msamati played pirate Salladhor Saan in Game of Thrones, and has also appeared in Taboo, Kiri, Black Earth Rising, Death in Paradise, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Doctor Who, Ashes to Ashes, The Hollow Crown and Luther among other shows.
Peter Serafinowicz is Iofur Raknison
Iofur Raknison is an armoured bear who serves as the king of the panserbjørne and ruler of Svalbard. He is not on good terms with Iorek Byrnison.
Peter Serafinowicz probably remains best known for voicing Darth Maul in the Star Wars prequel films. He has a huge range of TV and film credits to his name including appearances in Shaun of the Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Tick.
Robert Emms is Thomas
Thomas doesn’t appear in the His Dark Materials trilogy of books, but is introduced in episode two of the show as he works with Lord Boreal to track down John Parry (below)
Robert Emms has appeared in several acclaimed TV shows such as Happy Valley and Chernobyl. His films roles include War Horse, Borg/McEnroe and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Lewin Lloyd is Roger Parslow
Lyra’s best friend in Oxford, Roger’s disappearance sparks off her adventures as she attempts to rescue him from danger. His dæmon has yet to settle into one form.
Young actor Lloyd has previously starred in Sky’s Fortitude as Petter Hansen, Tom Hardy drama Taboo as a young urchin called Temple and as Beansie in The Alienist.
Daniel Frogson is Tony Costa
A Gyptian boy who has just come of age, Tony Costa accompanies Lyra and his fellow Gyptians as they venture North to rescue the children captured by The Gobblers – including his brother Billy.
17 year-old Frogson’s only previous on-screen experience came in the CBBC mini-series Joe All Alone, in which he played the titular character, and in 2018 film The Devil Outside.
Ian Gelder is Librarian Scholar Charles
A close friend and ally of Jordan College’s Master.
Another Game of Thrones veteran, Gelder played Ser Kevan Lannister in a number of episodes of the HBO series. He has also appeared in Torchwood: Children of Earth, the TV series Snatch, Queers, Riviera, Ripper Street, Mr Selfridge, Endeavour, Silent Witness and Robin Hood among other productions.
Tyler Howitt is Billy Costa
Brother of Tony and son of Ma, Billy is one of the children held captive by the much-feared Gobblers. There are suspicions that for the purposes of the TV show, Billy might have been combined with another character from the books – Tony Makarios.
This is Howitt’s first major role – and he is also scheduled to appear in Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Behind Her Eyes.
Nina Sosanya is Elaine Parry
The mother of Will and wife of John, Elaine first appears in The Subtle Knife where she is struggling with mental health problems.
Sosanya has appeared in a wealth of British TV favourites, including Last Tango in Halifax, W1A and Doctor Who. Recently she appeared as an MI6 agent in the second series of Killing Eve.
Georgina Campbell is Adele Starminster
Adele is a young journalist who tries to find out more of Mrs Coulter’s plans from Lyra. Her dæmon is a butterfly.
Campbell won a Bafta for her performance in one-off BBC3 drama Murdered by my Boyfriend, and has also starred in Death in Paradise, Freak, Tripped, Flowers, Broadchurch, Black Mirror, Krypton and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword among other projects.
Harry Melling is The Sysselmann
A high-ranking official in Trollesund, the Sysselmann causes problems for Lee and Lyra
Melling is probably best known for his role as Dudley Dursley, cousin to the titular Harry in the Harry Potter film series. He has since had a long stage career, and has also appeared in films like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and The Lost City of Z as well as TV shows like Merlin, Garrow’s Law, The Musketeers and Just William.
Clarke Peters is the Master of Jordan college
Dr Carne is the Master of Jordan College and the man who gives Lyra her all-important alethiometer. His dæmon takes the form of a raven.
US actor Clarke Peters is probably best known for his roles as as detective Lester Freamon and Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux in David Simon HBO series The Wire and Treme respectively.
Other TV work has included London Spy, The Tunnel, Midsomer Murders, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, The Tunnel, The Deuce, Person of Interest, Holby City, Waking the Dead, True Detective and Bulletproof. He has also appeared in movies including John Wick, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Nativity!, Marley & Me and The Bad Education Movie.
Read more about the His Dark Materials cast, James McAvoy’s cut episode, the His Dark Materials release schedule and the His Dark Materials age rating, plus find out where His Dark Materials is filmed, including the scenes set in Cittàgazze. And why not look at our latest His Dark Materials review?
His Dark Materials airs on Sundays on BBC One. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide.