Meet the cast of His Dark Materials

Dafne Keen, Lin-Manuel Miranda and James McAvoy lead the cast of the BBC’s Philip Pullman adaptation.

His Dark Materials (BBC)

The TV adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy has been keeping viewers captivated on cold winter nights for the second year running, with season two once again going down a treat with fans.

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The series is based on the second book in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, and sees Lyra and Will team up after meeting in the city of Citagazze, where they both arrived from their separate worlds.

Of the many great aspects of the show, including the tremendous production design and great scripts, the stellar cast is undoubtedly a highlight – which brings together many popular faces from the worlds of film, TV and theatre.

The second series has introduced several new faces – notably including Andrew Scott as Jopari – while the stars of season one have gone from strength to strength, with Ruth Wilson, in particular, making the most of her expanded storyline as Mrs Coulter.

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

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Who 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 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.

The second season finds her in the world of Citagazze, where she meets a new ally in Will Parry as she continues in her quest to find out what the Magisterium is up to and the true meaning of Dust.

What else has Dafne Keen been in? 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.

Ruth Wilson is Mrs Coulter

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Who 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.

In the second season, Mrs Coulter is desperate to get her daughter Lyra back into her care after she escaped in the first season, while she is also heavily involved with events at the Magisterium.

What else is Ruth Wilson been in? 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.

Amir Wilson is Will Parry

Amir Wilson

Who 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.

Over the course of the season, he becomes the bearer of the subtle knife, giving him great importance in Lyra’s battle against the Magisterium.

What else has Amir Wilson been in? 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.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is Lee Scoresby

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby

Who 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.

In the second series, Lee hopes to continue his efforts to help Lyra by finding the mysterious explorer and shaman Stanislaus Grumman, also known as Jopari.

What else has Lin Manuel Miranda been in? 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

Andrew Scott

Who is Jopari? 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.

What else has Andrew Scott been in? 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

Simone Kirby

Who 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.

What else has Simone Kirby been in? 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

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Who 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.

He is able to travel between worlds and aims to dupe Lyra such that he can steal the alethiometer from her.

What else has Ariyon Bakare been in? 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

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Who 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.

While Asriel continues to have great relevance to the story, the character himself is absent from the second series.

What else has James McAvoy been in? 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

Jade Anouka
Jade Anouka as Ruta Skadi in His Dark Materials (BBC)

Who 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.

What else has Jade Anouka been in? 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
BBC

Who is Giacomo Paradisi? 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.

What else has Terence Stamp been in? Stamp is an esteemed actor whose long career has seen him play iconic roles such as General Zod in Superman, Chancellor Valorum in The Phantom Menace, and Bernadette Bassinger in cult favourite The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Way back in 1962 he was nominated for an Oscar for playing the lead role in his film debut, Billy Budd while recent roles have included Murder Mystery and the upcoming Edgar Wright film Last Night in Soho.

Sophie Okonedo is Xaphania

Sophie Okonedo has appeared in Game of Thrones and will star in Amazon's The Wheel of Time
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Who is Xaphania? Xaphania is the leader of the rebel angels who ally with Lord Asriel to overthrow The Authority.

What else has Sophie Okonedo been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has Bella Ramsey been in? 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

Paola
BBC

Who is Paolo? 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.

What else has Ella Schrey-Yeats been in? 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

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Who is Fra Pavel? A Magisterium official with the ability to read the alethiometer, Fra Pavel is a useful man – but he holds a secret.

What else has Frank Bourke been in? 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

Serafina

Who is Serafina Pekkala? The clan queen of the witches 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.

What else has Ruta Gedmintas been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has Will Keen been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has David Suchet been in? 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

Helen McCrory and a fictional snow leopard

Who is Stelmaria? Lord Asriel’s dæmon, an elegant snow leopard.

What else has Helen McCrory been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has Joe Tandberg been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has James Cosmo been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has Anne-Marie Duff been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has Lucien Msamati been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has Peter Serafinowicz been in? 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

Who 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.

What else has Robert Emms been in? 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

Roger Parslow

Who is Roger? 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.

What else has Lewin Lloyd been in? 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

Tony Costa

Who 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.

What else has Daniel Frogson been in? 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

Ian Gelder at MCM London Comic-con (Getty)

Who is Librarian Scholar Charles? A close friend and ally of Jordan College’s Master.  

What else has Ian Gelder been in? 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

Who 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.

What else has Tyler Howitt been in? 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

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Nina Sosanya, actor in W1A, during the Cheltenham Literature Festival on October 15, 2017 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Who 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.

What else has Nina Sosanya been in? 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

Georgina Campbell (Getty, EH)

Who 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.

What else has Georgina Campbell been in? 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

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Who is the Sysselmann? A high-ranking official in Trollesund, the Sysselmann causes problems for Lee and Lyra.

What else has Harry Melling been in? 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

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Who 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.

What else has Clarke Peters been in? US actor Clarke Peters is probably best known for his roles 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?

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His Dark Materials airs on Sundays on BBC One. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide