Amazon Prime Video is preparing to drop its long-awaited remake of Channel 4 cult favourite Utopia, with an all-new cast heading up the high-profile project.
Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn is leading the adaptation, bringing back some characters from the original series, while also adding some new creations to the mix.
That said, fans may be hoping it doesn’t stray too far from the source material, which was prematurely cancelled before it could reach a fitting finale.
Here’s everything you need to know about the cast of Amazon’s Utopia remake:
Sasha Lane plays Jessica Hyde
Who is Jessica Hyde? Jessica is the daughter of a genius scientist, who has lived her life on the run as she flees from a shadowy organisation. She comes into contact with the series’ gang of comic-book nerds while trying to get her hands on Utopia, the titular graphic novel that seemingly predicts catastrophic events in the future.
“I would describe her as like, this animal-like, feral cat kind of creature,” Lane told RadioTimes.com and other cast on the Utopia set.
“She feels like Utopia has a way of telling her about her purpose. She’s looking for her dad, basically, so she’s like ‘maybe this is what’s going to get me the answers.'”
What else has Sasha Lane been in? Sasha Lane broke out on the indie circuit with key roles in American Honey and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, before transitioning to blockbuster fare with the likes of Hellboy and the upcoming Loki series on Disney+.
Who played Jessica Hyde in the UK original? The role was played by Fiona O’Shaughnessy in Channel 4’s original series, an Irish actor known for later performances in BBC One’s The Musketeers and The Living and The Dead.
“I don’t really want to compare too much,” Lane told us. “I just noticed the UK version had more of a focus on a style – she’s sort of intentionally flat and cold.
“I wanted to play this character, like I said, more like an animal. Yeah, we can have her be bad-ass and coldhearted, but I think there’s something else to being cold. To be cold, that means there’s something burning there, that has basically been hardened.”
Rainn Wilson plays Michael Stearns
Who is Michael Stearns? Stearns is a virologist who was once a rising star in his field, but whose career has since deteriorated amid a lack of respect and funding. Following a deadly flu outbreak in the US, he is brought back into the fray and uncovers a conspiracy bigger than he could have imagined.
“Dr Mike starts a little smaller, starts as a little more of a supporting character,” Wilson told us. “He kind of grows with every episode.
“He takes an incredible journey – it’s an amazing hero’s journey that he undergoes from a basement-dwelling nerdy mushroomy scientist in a university lab to an incredible hero who’s thrust onto the world stage with these mysterious diseases and bio-tech stuff that is happening throughout the course of the story.”
What else has Rainn Wilson been in? Wilson is probably best known as Dwight Schrute in The Office (US), a role he played across all nine seasons of the hit sitcom. He also starred in James Gunn’s violent vigilante movie Super, and recently appeared in Star Trek: Discovery and creature feature The Meg.
Who played Michael Stearns in the UK original? There is no direct equivalent to Michael Stearns in the original series of Utopia.
“I never saw the original series… I really don’t like it when Americans remake British series,” quipped Wilson, poking fun at his years in the US Office.
“It never works out well. That’s part of why I knew I would take this job, because I’m sure it’s just gonna be one season and done. No-one wants to watch some tired rehash of a far superior British show.”
Dan Byrd plays Ian
Who is Ian? Ian is a down-on-his-luck guy working a dead-end job and sharing a small apartment with his grandma, all the while craving a more thrilling lifestyle. That’s what drives him to investigate the mysterious graphic novel Utopia and the secrets it holds.
“He’s a little bit of an outlier in the group because they all for their own reasons are very preoccupied and fixated on finding this next edition of the comic book,” Byrd told us.
“So I’m enough of a nerd to be in these forums and to be interested in the subject matter, but I think what really kind of drew me in was the connection I made with [Becky] and what is really exciting me about this whole situation is us finally getting to meet in person.
“So that’s more or less his set-up and then obviously as the story evolves, you know, he gets just as sucked into the entire situation as the rest of them do.”
What else has Dan Byrd been in? Byrd played Travis Cobb in the fan-favourite Courteney Cox sitcom Cougar Town, appearing in over 100 episodes of the show. Since it wrapped up, he has made guest appearances in the likes of Mad Men, Scandal, The Good Doctor and Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Who played Ian in the UK original? Misfits star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett played a similar Ian in Channel 4’s Utopia, an IT consultant who lived with his mother.
“We knew that we couldn’t really try and simulate or even emulate anything that they’re doing [in the UK series] – we wanted this to stand on its own two feet and we didn’t want to have somebody else’s interpretation,” Byrd said.
“I just remember in the English version he was like kind of a real hard-ass, had a real chip on his shoulder. So I think I’ve definitely softened that aspect of the character a lot.”
Ashleigh LaThrop plays Becky
Who is Becky? Becky is a kind young woman desperately seeking the Utopia graphic novel, as it may hold the answers to curing the medical condition that threatens her life.
“She is really sweet and kind-hearted and really believes in Utopia because she is living with a debilitating illness called Deals,” LaThrop said.
“And so I believe that the cure for this disease lies within this graphic novel. So that’s kind of why the search for this novel is important to me. But then on the side one of the nerds in the group of the five of us is Ian (above), who is someone that I have had a lovely flirtation with for the past several months. ”
What else has Ashleigh LaThrop been in? LaThrop played Hannah in Fifty Shades Darker and its sequel Fifty Shades Freed, and has since bagged roles in major television shows The Handmaid’s Tale, The 100, and Netflix’s The Kominsky Method.
Who played Becky in the UK original? No Offence star Alexandra Roach took on the role in Channel 4’s Utopia.
“I would say that my character is just a little bit meeker, initially at least, than in the original version of the show,” LaThrop told us. “I think that’s the biggest difference is that she’s someone who just really really tries very hard to not step on anybody’s toes ever.
“She’s also less of a potty mouth initially, which is something that I missed.”
Desmin Borges plays Wilson Wilson
Who is Wilson Wilson? Wilson is a conspiracy theorist whose obsession over Utopia has made him deeply paranoid, as he’s convinced that it foretells a dark future for the human race.
What else has Desmin Borges been in? Borges is best known for co-starring in US sitcom You’re The Worst, opposite The Boys star Aya Cash.
Who played Wilson in the UK original? Adeel Akhtar played Wilson in the previous Utopia series, earning a BAFTA nomination for his performance.
Jessica Rothe plays Samantha
Who is Samantha? Samantha is an idealistic young woman who has built a life around learning everything she can about Utopia, believing its secrets could change the world for the better.
What else has Jessica Rothe been in? Rothe is probably best known for her lead role in the light-hearted slasher Happy Death Day and its sequel. She also featured in the 2016 awards favourite La La Land in a small role.
Who played Samantha in the UK original? There is no direct equivalent to Samantha in the original series of Utopia.
Christopher Denham plays Arby
Who is Arby? Arby is an operative hunting down those with knowledge of the Utopia manuscript. The disconnection he has from his emotions makes him ruthlessly efficient.
“Arby is a deeply disturbed man-child with some very, very violent tendencies. I guess that would sum it up in a nutshell,” Denham told us.
“He’s so inconspicuous. If 200 people saw him in a crowd, they would just kind of remember the vague outline of a man. He’s kind of a blank slate. I think that’s what makes him scary, sort of like a Rorschach test – you just kind of see what you want to see in him.”
What else has Christopher Denham been in? Denham appeared in a supporting role in 2012’s Best Picture winner Argo, directed by Ben Affleck. He has since appeared in the drama series Billions, starring opposite Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti.
“I purposefully sort of steered clear of the British series, mostly because I heard it was very very good, and I didn’t want to have that daunting task of either trying to imitate or surpass anything,” Denham explained.
“The creators had obviously been informed by it, so I thought it was better to just kind of pick a lane and do what I do.”
John Cusack plays Dr Kevin Christie
Who is Dr Kevin Christie? Kevin is the father of Thomas (below) and an accomplished mind in the world of biotech, with a desire to change the world through cutting-edge scientific developments.
“This character is such an idealist and really wants to help save the world and do good…and he’s kind of a star of the biotech world and the science world but is trying to address a lot of the themes and problems of dystopia where the world’s going,” Cusack told us.
What else has John Cusack been in? Cusack has had a decades-long career in film, with leading roles in the likes of Con Air, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, and Hot Tub Time Machine.
Who played Dr Kevin Christie in the UK original? There is no direct equivalent to Dr Kevin Christie in the original series of Utopia.
“My character, this whole storyline, is part of Gillian’s version of Utopia,” Cusack said.
“I didn’t watch [the UK version] at all because my character wasn’t in it so I thought I’d react to it just how it was written on the page.”
Javon Walton plays Grant
Who is Grant? Grant had a difficult upbringing in Kansas City and now lives on the streets alone, setting himself the dangerous goal of uncovering Utopia’s secrets.
“At this point Grant is living on the streets by himself,” Walton told us on set. “Grant is independent, fearless, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get Utopia.”
What else has Javon Walton been in? Walton made his debut in HBO’s dark coming-of-age drama Euphoria, which starred Emmy winner Zendaya in the lead role.
Who played Grant in the UK original? Grant was played by Oliver Woollford in the previous series, who has gone on to star in CBBC sci-fi drama Eve and acclaimed 2017 horror flick Ghost Stories.
“I did watch the original one – and yeah, I saw how he acted, and I thought he did a really good job,” Walton said.
Cory Michael Smith plays Thomas Christie
Who is Thomas Christie? Christie works for his father, Kevin, at their family’s biotech laboratory, and is also seeking the Utopia graphic novel. However, his motives are not to be trusted.
What else has Cory Michael Smith been in? Smith is likely best known for his role as Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler, in the Batman prequel series, Gotham.
Who played Thomas Christie in the UK original? There is no direct equivalent to Thomas Christie in the original series of Utopia.
Michael B. Woods plays Rod
Who is Rod? Arby’s sidekick and fellow enforcer, Rod is less detached from the world but still enjoys his deadly job.
“He’s more interested in nice cars, nice clothes,” Woods told us. “He’s interested in the tactile things of life. But people are not interesting. Even the violence he has to enact, he’s muted to it. It’s more just like, this is what I have to do today.”
What else has Michael B. Woods been in? Woods played The Creeper in horror movie Sinister 2, and has also appeared in the US Shameless, Chicago PD, Empire and Range Runners among other TV shows.
Who played Rod in the UK original? Rod’s equivalent character in the UK Utopia is Paul Ready’s Lee, though the character’s name is changed for the reboot. Ready is probably best known for his main role in Motherland, though he’s also recently appeared in MotherFatherSon, Bodyguard, The Terror and Fortitude.