Described by Forbes as “prestige TV’s next fantasy epic obsession,” HBO’s new drama series HIS DARK MATERIALS is an adaptation of Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name. It follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world, whose search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.
Before its debut, Monday, Nov. 4 at 9 p.m. ET only on Crave, some of the cast revealed what audiences can expect to see from their characters.
Lin-Manuel Miranda on his character Lee Scoresby, an eccentric Texan aeronaut and adventurer, who’s an important ally to Lyra: “Lee Scoresby is a Texan aeronaut, which means he flies in a hot air balloon in Lyra’s world. It's interesting. When we first meet Lee he's a bit of a non-sequitur. We are suddenly in an air balloon flying above these mountains but we soon learn that he is a close friend of Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear who is without his armour. He joins Lyra in her quest up north to find the missing children and to see Dust.”
Dafne Keen on her character Lyra Belacqua, a brave and clever child, “half-wild, half-civilized,” living as a kind of ward of a college at her world’s version of Oxford University: “Lyra is a very curious, cunning, and adventurous girl. She’s very intelligent, street smart, and just brilliant. I love her. She's a tomboy, definitely. When we first meet her she is racing with her best friend, Roger and she’s a ball of energy. Then, that changes. She's still energetic, but she's darker by the end of the show. The thing that most describes Lyra for me is a line that Ma Costa says in the books. When Lyra says something about her wanting to be a Gyptian she says, "You're not a Gyptian Lyra. Gyptians are water people and you're marsh fire." That's the thing that described Lyra for me the most.”
Ruth Wilson on her character Mrs. Coulter, who takes Lyra under her wing with plans to convert her from half to wholly civilized and groom her for power: “Mrs Coulter is one of the main antagonists in the show. She is a ruthless, power-hungry, glamorous, manipulative woman. She takes a certain liking to Lyra Belacqua, our young heroine. One of the reasons I took the job was because she's described as this cesspit of moral filth which I quite liked! She has been described by others as the mother of all evil which is also very fun to play. Her life and her journey is intrinsically connected to Lyra and her journey. You realize that Mrs. Coulter ends up following Lyra around, chasing her, in search of her, in a way; and through this search, she discovers things about herself.”
James McAvoy on his character Lord Asriel, an explorer and the leader of an army of rebels: “Lord Asriel Belacqua was a high-flying nobleman in his youth, but he made a pretty big mistake with shall we say ‘another cast member’ and because of that, both she and he suffer huge consequences. I lost all my land and everything was taken away from me by the Magisterium, by the church. My life was very much changed and by the time I become the 40-year-old person that I am now, I've become quite hateful and doubtful of organized religion: their doctrines, beliefs, and their motives. I spend a good 13 years trying to get to the heart of what I believe, trying to bring them (the Magisterium) down really. I’ve been trying to determine what spiritualism really is and how it's been perverted in our world by organized religion.”
Anne-Marie Duff on her character Ma Costa, matriarch of the Gyptians: “Inside the world of the novels, Philip Pullman has created this tribal world, so there are these different factions. One of them is obviously Lyra inside the university with all the academics and the members of the Magisterium. There's another group, a very cool group, called Gyptians who are this mishmash of travelers, gypsies and boat people. That’s all meshed together to make these really interesting, slightly exotic people who are constantly on the move. They're a bit feral, they're a bit exciting, sexy, dangerous, hot tempered and hot blooded. The character I play is Ma Costa and she is the matriarch of this group of people. And she’s great. In the book she's described her as having iron lungs: she's really fiery and feisty. She is a real lioness, she protects her young, her cubs. She's not to be messed with.”
Clarke Peters on his character The Master (Dr. Carne) of Jordan College, which is one of the many colleges at Oxford: “…For those who don’t know anything about the book, or if you know nothing about me, I’m going to start from the beginning. This is a book about a young lady who’s coming of age at a time and a dimension that’s not dissimilar to here, although there’s some technology that does afford her an interesting passage to the future. That little instrument that she uses to tell the future is something that she received from myself. We deal with science, theosophy, theology and philosophy at Jordan College, I would imagine, although it’s not quite stated as such. It’s a conversation between church versus state, spirituality versus politics, adolescence versus maturity. My character is pretty much the guardian of young Lyra and has to pass these notions down to her alongside her father Lord Asriel.”