A Handy Guide To The Cast & Characters Of HBO’s His Dark Materials

Rachel Paige

Are we on the verge of the next Game of Thrones? The BBC is certainly hoping that their latest fantasy adaptation, His Dark Materials, based on the series of novels by the same name by Philip Pullman, can satisfy GOT's former audience. If you want magic, both light and dark, fantastical creatures, parallel universes, and talking polar bears, this is the series for you. And also just like Game of Thrones, His Dark Materials features a giant cast of characters that may just require a little explanation before you dive right in.

I'm going to level with you: Despite our hopes, His Dark Materials isn't Game of Thrones, starting with the fact that it carries with it a few household names as stars. The cast includes a few different X-Men, someone on the way to an EGOT, and a couple of comedians. The series boasts a huge and sprawling cast, and it's only season 1.

That sprawl has a lot to do with the fact that the show is set in an alternative world in which people have dæmons: a part of their spirit that actually lives outside of them as an animal companion.

Heads up: There are some slight spoilers from His Dark Materials ahead, coming right from the novels, so be careful as you read on.

Episode 2 will air on BBC1 on Sunday at 8.00pm, episode 1 is now available on iPlayer.

<strong><h2>Dafne Keen Plays Lyra Belacqua</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Lyra?</strong> <br>Lyra is a young 11-year-old girl who lives in a parallel universe. She has lived most of her life at Jordan College, Oxford until she finds herself in the middle of a cosmic war between Lord Asriel on the one side, and the first angel to come into being, called The Authority, and his Regent, called Metatron, on the other. Her dæmon, Pantalaimon, is a creature who can take many different shapes, and she calls him “Pan.” <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Keen<br></strong>Keen is definitely an up and coming major actress, as she’s already landed a few major roles. Her breakout moment was playing Lara (aka, a young X-23) in <em>Logan</em> and played Ani in the BBC’s <em>The Refugees</em>. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>

Dafne Keen Plays Lyra Belacqua


Who Is Lyra?
Lyra is a young 11-year-old girl who lives in a parallel universe. She has lived most of her life at Jordan College, Oxford until she finds herself in the middle of a cosmic war between Lord Asriel on the one side, and the first angel to come into being, called The Authority, and his Regent, called Metatron, on the other. Her dæmon, Pantalaimon, is a creature who can take many different shapes, and she calls him “Pan.”

Where You've Seen Keen
Keen is definitely an up and coming major actress, as she’s already landed a few major roles. Her breakout moment was playing Lara (aka, a young X-23) in Logan and played Ani in the BBC’s The Refugees. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
<strong><h2>James McAvoy Plays Lord Asriel Belacqua<br></h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Lord Asriel?<br></strong>A member of the aristocracy in a parallel universe which is run by the Church. At the beginning of the novels, he is a highly respected member of the "Brytish" aristocracy. And before the events of the novels, he had an affair with Marisa Coulter and is Lyra’s birth father. When Mrs. Coulter’s husband finds out about the affair, Lord Asriel kills him in order to protect Lyra. He takes Lyra to his alma mater, Jordan College. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen McAvoy<br></strong>If you grew up in the 2000s, McAvoy is definitely one of your former (or current) crushes. He also played Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, in a handful of recent <em>X-Men</em> movies. If you like your McAvoy scary, he played Kevin Wendell Crumb in the <em>Unbreakable</em> trilogy and also Bill Denbrough in <em>IT Chapter Two</em>. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>

James McAvoy Plays Lord Asriel Belacqua


Who Is Lord Asriel?
A member of the aristocracy in a parallel universe which is run by the Church. At the beginning of the novels, he is a highly respected member of the "Brytish" aristocracy. And before the events of the novels, he had an affair with Marisa Coulter and is Lyra’s birth father. When Mrs. Coulter’s husband finds out about the affair, Lord Asriel kills him in order to protect Lyra. He takes Lyra to his alma mater, Jordan College.

Where You've Seen McAvoy
If you grew up in the 2000s, McAvoy is definitely one of your former (or current) crushes. He also played Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, in a handful of recent X-Men movies. If you like your McAvoy scary, he played Kevin Wendell Crumb in the Unbreakable trilogy and also Bill Denbrough in IT Chapter Two. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
<strong><h2>Ruth Wilson Plays Marisa Coulter</h2><br>Who Is Marisa?<br></strong>Mrs. Coulter supposedly fell in love with Lord Asriel as soon as they met, and after an affair with him, gave birth to Lyra. Though she has a touch-and-go relationship with her daughter, she repeatedly saves her. Mrs. Coulter's dæmon takes the form of a golden monkey with long fur, who is not named in the books, but is often referred to as "Ozymandias." Also, Mrs. Coulter may or may not be working on the same side as everyone else. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Wilson<br></strong>Maybe you (or your parents) know Wilson from her starring role in <em>The Affair</em>, and she’s also Alice on <em>Luther</em>. Wilson has also been nominated for a handful of Tonys and has won two Laurence Olivier Awards over the years. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>

Ruth Wilson Plays Marisa Coulter


Who Is Marisa?
Mrs. Coulter supposedly fell in love with Lord Asriel as soon as they met, and after an affair with him, gave birth to Lyra. Though she has a touch-and-go relationship with her daughter, she repeatedly saves her. Mrs. Coulter's dæmon takes the form of a golden monkey with long fur, who is not named in the books, but is often referred to as "Ozymandias." Also, Mrs. Coulter may or may not be working on the same side as everyone else.

Where You've Seen Wilson
Maybe you (or your parents) know Wilson from her starring role in The Affair, and she’s also Alice on Luther. Wilson has also been nominated for a handful of Tonys and has won two Laurence Olivier Awards over the years. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
<strong><h2>Clarke Peters Plays The Master / Dr. Carne<br></h2>Who Is The Master?<br></strong>The Master of Jordan College, where Lyra lived and Lord Asriel went to college. Dr. Cane is not a huge fan of Lord Asriel or Mrs. Coulter but helps Lyra out. His dæmon is an old female raven. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Peters<br></strong>Peters is no stranger to the small screen, having appeared in <em>The Deuce</em>, <em> Jessica Jones</em>, <em>True Detective</em>, <em>Person of Interest</em>, and <em>The Wire</em> where he played Det. Lester Freamon. As for movies, he recently appeared in <em>Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri </em>and <em>Harriet</em>. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>

Clarke Peters Plays The Master / Dr. Carne

Who Is The Master?
The Master of Jordan College, where Lyra lived and Lord Asriel went to college. Dr. Cane is not a huge fan of Lord Asriel or Mrs. Coulter but helps Lyra out. His dæmon is an old female raven.

Where You've Seen Peters
Peters is no stranger to the small screen, having appeared in The Deuce, Jessica Jones, True Detective, Person of Interest, and The Wire where he played Det. Lester Freamon. As for movies, he recently appeared in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Harriet. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
<strong><h2>Lewin Lloyd Plays Roger Parslow</h2><br>Who Is Roger?<br></strong>A young kitchen boy who works as a masons for Jordan College. This led him to become best friends with Lyra during their childhood together at the college. Roger's dæmon is named Salcilia and often appears as a terrier. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Lloyd<br></strong>For Lloyd’s young career, he’s already appeared in some movies with big names, like the recent <em>Judy</em> and <em>The Aeronauts</em>, and <em>Taboo</em> opposite Tom Hardy. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>

Lewin Lloyd Plays Roger Parslow


Who Is Roger?
A young kitchen boy who works as a masons for Jordan College. This led him to become best friends with Lyra during their childhood together at the college. Roger's dæmon is named Salcilia and often appears as a terrier.

Where You've Seen Lloyd
For Lloyd’s young career, he’s already appeared in some movies with big names, like the recent Judy and The Aeronauts, and Taboo opposite Tom Hardy. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
<strong><h2>Lin-Manuel Miranda Plays Lee Scoresby</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Lee?<br></strong>A skilled "aëronaut" balloonist from the country of Texas. His dæmon is a female arctic hare by the name of named Hester. We probably won’t see Lee right away in the show, but as we dive deeper into the story, he is hired by John Faa and the Gyptians to help Lyra save the kidnapped children. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Miranda<br></strong>If there’s anyone who’s going to save the world right now, it’s Miranda. At this point, he’s a double, triple, and quadruple threat between stage, screen, television, and also revamping Disney animated classics (he wrote the songs for <em>Moana</em> and is helping out with the upcoming <em>The Little Mermaid</em>). Also very importantly, he plays Amy Santiago’s brother on <em>Brooklyn Nine-Nine</em>. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>

Lin-Manuel Miranda Plays Lee Scoresby


Who Is Lee?
A skilled "aëronaut" balloonist from the country of Texas. His dæmon is a female arctic hare by the name of named Hester. We probably won’t see Lee right away in the show, but as we dive deeper into the story, he is hired by John Faa and the Gyptians to help Lyra save the kidnapped children.

Where You've Seen Miranda
If there’s anyone who’s going to save the world right now, it’s Miranda. At this point, he’s a double, triple, and quadruple threat between stage, screen, television, and also revamping Disney animated classics (he wrote the songs for Moana and is helping out with the upcoming The Little Mermaid). Also very importantly, he plays Amy Santiago’s brother on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
<strong><h2>Anne-Marie Duff Plays Ma Costa</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Ma Costa?<br></strong>Ma Costa watched over Lyra as a young baby, and kept her safe during Lord Asriel’s fight with Mr. Colter. She asked if she could actually adopt Lyra but was denied this request, and instead kept on eye on her from a distance to make sure she was always okay. Ma Costa is a Gyptian woman and a respected one at that, and her son is later kidnapped by the Gobblers. Her dæmon is a goshawk named Jal. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Duff<br></strong>Duff played the original Fiona for Channel 4’s <em>Shameless</em>, but tends to stick to the theatre in London, where she’s played Lady Macbeth twice, along with Wendy in <em>Peter Pan</em> and Cordelia in <em>King Lear</em>. She also has one child with her ex-husband (who she met on the set of <em>Shameless</em> and who's also on <em> His Dark Materials</em>), James Mcavoy.

Anne-Marie Duff Plays Ma Costa


Who Is Ma Costa?
Ma Costa watched over Lyra as a young baby, and kept her safe during Lord Asriel’s fight with Mr. Colter. She asked if she could actually adopt Lyra but was denied this request, and instead kept on eye on her from a distance to make sure she was always okay. Ma Costa is a Gyptian woman and a respected one at that, and her son is later kidnapped by the Gobblers. Her dæmon is a goshawk named Jal.

Where You've Seen Duff
Duff played the original Fiona for Channel 4’s Shameless, but tends to stick to the theatre in London, where she’s played Lady Macbeth twice, along with Wendy in Peter Pan and Cordelia in King Lear. She also has one child with her ex-husband (who she met on the set of Shameless and who's also on His Dark Materials), James Mcavoy.
<strong><h2>Lucian Msamati Plays John Faa</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is John Faa?<br></strong>The Lord of the western Gyptians and his dæmon is a black crow. He aids Lyra in her journey and is actually the one to tell her the truth about her real mother and father. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Msamati<br></strong>You might recognize Msamati from his role on <em>Game of Thrones</em> playing pirate Salladhor Saan, or the cult-classic series <em>The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency</em> playing JLB Matekoni. He also appeared on Prime Video’s <em>Electric Dreams</em>. <span class="copyright">Photo: Matt Crossick/Getty Images.</span>

Lucian Msamati Plays John Faa


Who Is John Faa?
The Lord of the western Gyptians and his dæmon is a black crow. He aids Lyra in her journey and is actually the one to tell her the truth about her real mother and father.

Where You've Seen Msamati
You might recognize Msamati from his role on Game of Thrones playing pirate Salladhor Saan, or the cult-classic series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency playing JLB Matekoni. He also appeared on Prime Video’s Electric Dreams. Photo: Matt Crossick/Getty Images.
<strong><h2>Ariyon Bakare Plays Lord Carlo Boreal</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Carlo?<br></strong>He is an old Englishman, and has a touch and go history with Mrs. Coulter, who once seduced him for information. He meets Lyra multiple times, oftentimes stealing with he needs from her leaving her to try and win it back. His dæmon is a serpent. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Bakare?<br></strong>Bakare is no stranger to magical words, having appeared on <em>Carnival Row</em> as Darius, and <em>Good Omens</em> as Ligur. He also starred in the BBC soap opera <em>Doctors</em> in the early 2000s. <span class="copyright">Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage.</span>

Ariyon Bakare Plays Lord Carlo Boreal


Who Is Carlo?
He is an old Englishman, and has a touch and go history with Mrs. Coulter, who once seduced him for information. He meets Lyra multiple times, oftentimes stealing with he needs from her leaving her to try and win it back. His dæmon is a serpent.

Where You've Seen Bakare?
Bakare is no stranger to magical words, having appeared on Carnival Row as Darius, and Good Omens as Ligur. He also starred in the BBC soap opera Doctors in the early 2000s. Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage.
<strong><h2>Daniel Frogson Plays Tony Costa</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Tony?<br></strong>His brother, Billy Costa, was one of the kidnapped children and he heads North with the rest of the gyptians in an effort to rescue the children captured by the Gobblers. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Frogson<br></strong>Well, you might not have seen him before. According to IMDb, this is only Frogson’s third credit to date, following  two other shorts. <br> <br> <span class="copyright">Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage.</span>

Daniel Frogson Plays Tony Costa


Who Is Tony?
His brother, Billy Costa, was one of the kidnapped children and he heads North with the rest of the gyptians in an effort to rescue the children captured by the Gobblers.

Where You've Seen Frogson
Well, you might not have seen him before. According to IMDb, this is only Frogson’s third credit to date, following two other shorts.

Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage.
<strong><h2>Helen McCrory Is The Voice Of Stelmaria</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Stelmaria?<br></strong>Lord Asriel’s dæmon, a snow leopard, who is strong and intelligent. She has a hold over Roger Parslow’s own dæmon. <br> <br>McCroy is a stage, screen, and television actress who is married to fellow actor Damian Lewis. You might recognize her from <em>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows</em> where she played Narcissa Malfoy, or <em>Peaky Blinders</em> where she plays Polly. <br> <br> <span class="copyright">Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images.</span>

Helen McCrory Is The Voice Of Stelmaria


Who Is Stelmaria?
Lord Asriel’s dæmon, a snow leopard, who is strong and intelligent. She has a hold over Roger Parslow’s own dæmon.

McCroy is a stage, screen, and television actress who is married to fellow actor Damian Lewis. You might recognize her from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where she played Narcissa Malfoy, or Peaky Blinders where she plays Polly.

Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images.
<strong><h2>David Suchet Is The Voice Of Kaisa</h2><br>Who Is Kaisa?<br></strong>Serafina Pekkala’s dæmon who has the form of a snow goose. Kaisa often acted as a scout for Serafina and was frequently seen without her, which at first started Lyra. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Suchet<br></strong>Suchet might be best known as Hercule Poirot in <em>Agatha Christie's Poirot</em> which ran for 13 seasons and spanned 70 episodes. He’s also been in dozens of different film and television shows ranging from <em>Doctor Who</em>, <em>The Bank Job</em>, and <em>Harry and the Hendersons. </em> <span class="copyright">Photo: Toby Zerna/Getty Images.</span>

David Suchet Is The Voice Of Kaisa


Who Is Kaisa?
Serafina Pekkala’s dæmon who has the form of a snow goose. Kaisa often acted as a scout for Serafina and was frequently seen without her, which at first started Lyra.

Where You've Seen Suchet
Suchet might be best known as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's Poirot which ran for 13 seasons and spanned 70 episodes. He’s also been in dozens of different film and television shows ranging from Doctor Who, The Bank Job, and Harry and the Hendersons. Photo: Toby Zerna/Getty Images.
<strong><h2>Cristela Alonzo Is The Voice Of Hester</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Hester?<br></strong>Lee Scoresby’s dæmon who takes the form of an arctic hare. Just like Lee, Hester is dry and funny and incredibly hard on herself. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Alonzo<br></strong>Even if you don’t know the name Cristela Alonzo off the top of your head, you’ve probably at least heard her before considering she’s a stand-up comedian and voice actress. She was the star (and created, wrote, and produced) <em>Cristela</em> and is part of the <em>Cars</em> universe, in which she voices Cruz Ramirez. <br> <span class="copyright">Photo: JC Olivera/Getty Images.</span>

Cristela Alonzo Is The Voice Of Hester


Who Is Hester?
Lee Scoresby’s dæmon who takes the form of an arctic hare. Just like Lee, Hester is dry and funny and incredibly hard on herself.

Where You've Seen Alonzo
Even if you don’t know the name Cristela Alonzo off the top of your head, you’ve probably at least heard her before considering she’s a stand-up comedian and voice actress. She was the star (and created, wrote, and produced) Cristela and is part of the Cars universe, in which she voices Cruz Ramirez.
Photo: JC Olivera/Getty Images.
<strong><h2>Joe Tandberg Is The Voice Of Iorek Byrnison</h2></strong> <br> <strong>Who Is Iorek?<br></strong>A polar bear and a panserbjørn who is the king of Svalbard. He becomes one of Lyra’s most trusted friends and companions as they travel together. <br> <br> <strong>Where You've Seen Tandberg<br></strong> <em>His Dark Materials</em> marks Tandberg’s first major television role, and at that, he’s only lending his voice to it. But, he’s no stranger to giving his voice to others, as he’s featured in the <em>Game of Thrones</em> Telltale series playing another bastard with the last name of Snow, and has appeared in a handful of other video games as well. <span class="copyright">Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage.</span>

Joe Tandberg Is The Voice Of Iorek Byrnison


Who Is Iorek?
A polar bear and a panserbjørn who is the king of Svalbard. He becomes one of Lyra’s most trusted friends and companions as they travel together.

Where You've Seen Tandberg
His Dark Materials marks Tandberg’s first major television role, and at that, he’s only lending his voice to it. But, he’s no stranger to giving his voice to others, as he’s featured in the Game of Thrones Telltale series playing another bastard with the last name of Snow, and has appeared in a handful of other video games as well. Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage.

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