Six-part BBC One drama The Luminaries is set in New Zealand at the peak of the 19th century Gold Rush and features a huge, huge ensemble cast.
Here are the actors you’ll see on screen, and the characters they play…
Eve Hewson plays Anna Wetherell
Who is Anna Wetherell? A young woman who’s travelled alone to New Zealand in search of a new life. On the last day of the journey, she meets a young man called Emery Staines – and there is an instant connection. But her hopes and dreams get derailed as soon as she steps onto firm ground.
What else has Eve Hewson been in? Irish actress Eve Hewson (who is actually Bono’s daughter) has previously starred as Marian in Robin Hood, Nurse Lucy Elkins in The Knick, Mary in This Must Be the Place, and Carol in Bridge of Spies.
Himesh Patel plays Emery Staines
Who is Emery Staines? A young man who’s sailed from Britain in search of gold and riches in New Zealand.
What else has Himesh Patel been in? Having risen to fame playing Tamwar Masood in EastEnders, British actor Himesh Patel has since starred as Jordan Hatwal in Avenue 5, Nitin in Damned, John Trew in The Aeronauts, and Jack Malik in the 2019 movie Yesterday.
Eva Green plays Lydia Wells
Who is Lydia Wells? Lydia is a psychic and fortune-teller who runs a house in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island. She is calculating and clever.
What else has Eva Green been in? The French actress rose to fame in the mid-noughties when she played the Queen of Jerusalem in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and then “Bond girl” Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Since then she’s been in The Golden Compass (as Serafina Pekkala), Camelot (as Morgan), 300: Rise of an Empire (as Artemisia), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (as Miss Peregrine), and Colette Marchant in the live-action version of Dumbo. On TV, she’s starred as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful.
Marton Csokas plays Francis Carver
Who is Francis Carver? Lydia’s lover. Francis Carver was a convict who served ten years, and he has a cruel and violent temper.
What else has Marton Csokas been in? In recent years he’s starred as Quinn in Into the Badlands, and as Skip Zakarian in Divorce. He’s also been in Rogue, Klondike, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (as Dr Ashley Kafka), Sons of Liberty, Xena: Warrior Princess, Noah, and The Equaliser.
Ewen Leslie plays Crosbie Wells
Who is Crosbie Wells? Lydia’s husband. At the beginning of the drama we find out he is dead, and the gaoler suspects he has been murdered.
What else has Ewen Leslie been in? You might recognise him from the TV series The Cry, in which he starred opposite Jenna Coleman as her husband Alistair. Other notable credits include The Gloaming, Fighting Season, Rake, Safe Harbour, Peter Rabbit (as the voice of Pigling Bland), and Top of the Lake – in which he starred as Pyke. Aside from that, he’s also a prolific stage actor in New Zealand.
Michael Sheasby plays Walter Moody
Who is Walter Moody? A Scottish lawyer who arrives in Hokitika aboard the Godspeed. He’s the main character we follow in the book, but in this TV adaptation his role is much reduced.
What else has Michael Sheasby been in? Having started out as Steve Carmody in Home and Away, he’s gone on to play Tex Lewis in Hacksaw Ridge, and Aidan in The Nightingale. Michael Sheasby can also be seen in The Secrets She Keeps, cpoming soon to the BBC.
Matt Whelan plays Cowell Devlin
Who is Cowell Devlin? A chaplain, who also serves as the prison chaplain.
What else has Matt Whelan been in? The actor and comedian starred as Hugh Hefner in the TV docudrama American Playboy, and as DEA agent Daniel Van Ness in Narcos. He’s also known for starring as Brad Caulfield in the New Zealand comedy drama Go Girls.
Yoson An plays Sook Yongsheng
Who is Sook Yongsheng? A Chinese man who has also arrived in New Zealand to prospect for gold. And he has another purpose in mind, as well: he wants to murder Francis Carver to avenge his own father. Despite his hatred of opium, Ah Sook finds himself drawn in by the drug soon after he arrives.
What else has Yoson An been in? The young actor has been cast as Honghui in the upcoming live-action version of Mulan. His other credits so far include Fresh Eggs, Dead Lucky, and Jason Statham’s ridiculous 2018 shark attack movie The Meg – in which he played a news helicopter pilot.
Gary Young plays Quee Long
Who is Quee Long? Like many people in this story, Ah Quee is looking for gold. But because he’s Chinese, his prospects are much poorer as he’s not allowed to stake a claim in any of the best spots.
What else has Gary Young been in? Outlander fans will recognise him as Yi Tien Cho, or “Mr Willoughby”, the Chinese exile living in 18th century Edinburgh. The actor has also starred as Zheng in the TV series Secret City, and has appeared in Harry, The Shannara Chronicles, Underbelly, and Tidelands. He’s set to play a Garrison Commander in of Mulan.
Richard Te Are plays Te Rau Tauwhare
Who is Te Rau Tauwhare? A Maori greenstone hunter from Arahura Valley who befriends Crosbie Wells and (in the TV series) Emery Staines. In the book, he’s described like this: “Te Rau Tauwhare was not quite thirty years of age. He was handsomely muscular, and carried himself with assurance and the tightly wound energy of youth; though not openly prideful, he never showed that he was impressed or intimidated by any other man.”
What else has Richard Te Are been in? He played Tui in TV series The Dead Lands, and has also appeared in The Other Side of Heaven 2, and Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
Benedict Hardie plays Alistair Lauderback
Who is Alistair Lauderback? A politician and wealthy shipping magnate, who knew Lydia back when she was “Lydia Greenway”.
What else has Benedict Hardie been in? He recently played Marc the architect in 2020 movie The Invisible Man, starring Elisabeth Moss. Other movie roles include Captain Daniels in Hacksaw Ridge, and Constable Harry Garstone in The Light Between Oceans.
(Side note: doesn’t he kind of look a bit like Jack Farthing, the English actor who played George Warleggan in Poldark?)
Erik Thomson plays Dick Mannering
Who is Dick Mannering? A wealthy man who owns and operates the Prince fo Wales Opera House in Hokitika. He’s also “a whoremonger, a card sharp, a shareholder, and a goldfields magnate.”
What else has Erik Thomson been in? Erik Thomsons has played Hades in three TV series: Young Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In recent years he’s also starred in 800 Words, Awoken, and Storm Boy.
Mark Mitchinson plays Thomas Balfour
Who is Thomas Balfour? A shipping agent.
What else has Mark Mitchinson been in? He starred as Braga in The Hobbit movies, which is probably his most famous role internationally. Other credits include Spartacus, Power Rangers Megaforce (as the voice of Creepox) and Power Rangers Dino Charge (as Singe), Nothing Trivial, Coverband, The Shannara Chronicles, Mystery Road, and Daffodils.
Joel Tobeck plays Benjamin Lowenthal
Who is Benjamin Lowenthal? A newspaperman, and the editor of the West Coast Times in Hokitika.
What else has Joel Tobeck been in? The Kiwi actor has appeared in TV series including Xena Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Young Hercules, Sons of Anarchy, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Shortland Street, and Ash vs Evil Dead. He starred alongside Jermaine Clement in Taika Waiti’s 2007 movie Eagle vs Shark, and back in 2003 he was “Orc Lieutenant 1” in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Byron Coll plays Charlie Frost
Who is Charlie Frost? A banker.
What else has Byron Coll been in? He voiced Redbot and various characters in the Power Rangers TV series, and also appeared in Daffodils and Guns Akimbo. Viewers outside New Zealand will probably know him best as Penguin from the TV series Top of the Lake, which starred Elisabeth Moss and Gwendoline Christie – as well as his Luminaries co-star Ewen Leslie.
Paolo Rotondo plays Aubert Gascoigne
Who is Aubert Gascoigne? A justice’s clerk. One of the nicer characters in the story.
What else has Paolo Rotondo been in? The actor, whose family background is Italian, Irish and Kiwi, is best-known in New Zealand for shows including Shortland Street and movies including Stickmen. His other credits inlcude The Ugly, The Making of the Mob, and Orphans & Kingdoms.
Callan Mulvey plays George Shepard
Who is George Shepard? The gaoler, and effectively the town’s policeman as well.
What else has Callan Mulvey been in? The actor starred as Mark Morgan in the drama Underbelly in his home country of Australia, and as Johnny Cooper in Home and Away. Since then, he’s gone on to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (as Jack Rollins), 300: Rise of an Empire (as Scyllias), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (as Anatoli Knyazev), and Outlaw King (as John III Comyn).
Kieran Charnock plays Edgar Clinch
Who is Edgar Clinch? He looks after a hotel in Hokitika, and he looks after Anna while she lives there. He is solicitous and caring, but he certainly wants something back in return.
What else has Kieran Charnock been in? The actor has a handful of previous credits, including When We Go to War and Lovely Little Losers.
Matt Sunderland plays Joseph Pritchard
Who is Joseph Pritchard? The pharmacist.
What else has Matt Sunderland been in? He played the character Dan in 2016’s The Lost City of Z, alongside Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Charlie Hunnam and Sienna Miller. He also triumphed at the 2008 New Zealand Screen Awards for his lead role in feature film Out of the Blue, and in 2013 he was in the first series of Top of the Lake.
Erroll Shand plays Harald Nilssen
Who is Harald Nilssen? A commission merchant.
What else has Erroll Shand been in? His credits include Little Secret, the 2007 movie The Water Horse, Mystery Road, Rake, Dear Murderer, Filthy Rich, and Harry.
The Luminaries begins on Sunday 21st June at 9pm on BBC One. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.