Jonathan Rhys Meyers – Tom Lea
Who does he play? Tom Lea is a slave owner in North Carolina, who purchases Kizzy, separating her from her family in Virginia. He brutally rapes her and fathers her son.
Where have I seen him before? Jonathan Rhys Meyers starred as Henry VIII in The Tudors, and he has also appeared in Bend It Like Beckham, Vikings, Dracula, Elvis and Mission Impossible III.
Regé-Jean Page – Chicken George
Who does he play? Chicken George (real name George Lea) is the mixed-race son of Kizzy (a slave) and Tom (her master).
Where have I seen him before? Regé-Jean Page played Guy Braxton in Waterloo Road, and he’s also had roles in Fresh Meat and Survivor.
Erica Tazel – Matilda
Who does she play? Chicken George’s wife.
Where have I seen her before? In The Good Fight as Barbara Kolstad, or in Justified as Rachel Brooks. Or looking right back, you may have seen her in her television debut: as a dance teacher in the Sex and the City episode Baby, Talk Is Cheap.
Chad L Coleman – Mingo
Who does he play? Mingo is a stern, no-nonsense slave and cock trainer for Tom Lea. He becomes a father figure for Chicken George.
Where have I seen him before? Chad Coleman had a small part in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He’s also been in The Walking Dead as Tyreese Williams, and played Dennis ‘Cutty’ Wise in The Wire.
Anna Paquin – Nancy Holt
Who does she play? An abolitionist spy during the civil war, who appears in the final episode. She is married to secessionist Frederick Murray, of the Murray Plantation, where George’s son Tom and his family live.
Where have I seen her before? Paquin won an Oscar at the age of 11 for her role in The Piano (1993). She has also starred in True Blood, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Almost Famous, and the X-Men franchise.
Roots airs on BBC4 at 9pm on Wednesdays