The Movie

Cast | Director & Crew | Production Design | Auditions | Image Galleries | Discussion

Dakota Blue Richards

Nicole Kidman
Mrs Coulter

Daniel Craig
Lord Asriel

Ian McKellen

Ian McShane
Iofur / Ragnar

Freddie Highmore

Ben Walker

Eva Green
Serafina Pekkala

Jim Carter
Lord Faa

Tom Courtenay
Farder Coram

Jack Shepherd
The Master

Simon McBurney
Fra Pavel

Sam Elliot
Lee Scoresby

Claire Higgins
Ma Costa

Magda Szubanski
Mrs Lonsdale

Steven Loton
Tony Costa

Kristin Scott Thomas

Christopher Lee

Kathy Bates

Minor Cast
Billy Costa .... .... Charlie Rowe
Thorold .... .... John Bett
Sister Clara .... .... Hattie Morahan
Librarian .... .... John Franklyn-Robbins
Younger Fellow .... .... Jonathan Laury
Bolvangar doctor .... .... Paul Antony-Barber
Bolvanger official .... .... Jason Watkins
Passing Scholar .... .... James Rawlings

Dakota Blue Richards, Lyra

Dakota Blue Richards has been cast in the lead role of Lyra Belacqua. Miss Richards landed the role after filmmakers conducted an extensive casting search. More than 10,000 young girls attended open calls in Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter, and Kendal, before Dakota was chosen from the Cambridge call for a further audition and subsequent screen test. Dakota is twelve years old and a British schoolgirl, from Sussex.

Dakota is a genuine His Dark Materials fan, having gone to seen the National Theatre's stage adaptation long before the auditions.

The film's director, Chris Weitz, enthuses, "Dakota made what should have been an extremely difficult decision quite easy. We wanted a completely new face for Lyra, but I was surprised that any young girl, especially one without training, could light up the screen as Dakota does."

    Philip Pullman has similarly warm feelings. He commented:

"I'm delighted with the casting of Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra. As soon as I saw Dakota's screen test, I realized that the search was over. Dakota has just the combination of qualities that make up the complicated character of this girl, and I very much look forward to seeing the film take shape, with Dakota's Lyra at the heart of it.

She's absolutely marvellous - and she looks right. I know Lyra better than anyone. Looking like someone isn't a case of having blond hair and blue eyes: it's about bone structure; the way someone carries herself. She is also a very good actress. At 12, she hasn't had time to be fully trained, but that was not what we were looking for. It a was question of getting someone who can be the part."

Read New Line's press release announcing Dakota.
Nicole Kidman will be Mrs Coulter
Mrs Coulter

Nicole Kidman will play Mrs Coulter. Kidman was Philip Pullman's first choice and had long been rumoured for the role. She was the first cast member to be announced, in July 2006. It had been reported by The Daily Mail that disagreements over Kidman's fees held up the negotiation process somewhat. Read the press release announcing Nicole's signing.

Daniel Craig will be Lord Asriel
Lord Asriel
Daniel Craig will star as the Bryonic and ruthless Lord Asriel. Craig is the current holder of the James Bond role and his first film in the part, Casino Royale, was released last autumn. The film also stars Eva Green, who, as seen below, plays Serafina Pekkala. Craig also has another upcoming film with a His Dark Materials starlet - he and Nicole Kidman can be seen together next year in the sci-fi thriller The Visiting.

Several other actors had previously been touted for the role of Lord Asriel. Paul Bettany had entered into the negotiations stage with New Line. We understand that Bettany had become persuaded to seek the part after encouragement from Nicole Kidman and became interested after reading the books, but that negotiations stalled over fees - with New Line wanting to scale the actor's fees down for the first movie, where Asriel has comparatively little to do. This may have led to Bettany eventually turning down the role. Eric Bana was also approached for the part beforehand.

Eva Green will play Serafina Pekkala
Serafina Pekkala

The French Eva Green will play Serafina Pekkala. Her previous films include The Dreamers and Kingdom of Heaven, whilst she will played the Bond girl Vesper Lynd in the last James Bond film, Casino Royale. Daniel Craig, who has the role Lord Asriel, will played Bond opposite her. Eva has finalised the deal for the first His Dark Materials movie, with an option to star in two sequels, if they are made.

Ian McKellen, providing the voice for Iorek Byrnison
Iorek Byrnison

Veteran actor Ian McKellen, star of Lord of the Rings and much more, will provide the voice for Iorek Byrnison. McKellen was added to the film rather late on, displacing Nonso Anozie, who had already recorded lines for the part. Philip Pullman had remarked of Anozie: "Iorek, of course, is being constructed pixel by pixel in a computer somewhere; but his voice is provided by Nonso Anozie, and a better bear you`d have to go a long way to find." McKellen's role in the film was revealed at a trailer unveiling in New York, at the same time that the involvement of his LotR co-star, Christopher Lee, was revealed.

Iofur / Ragnar

Ian McShane, a veteran British actor best known for television parts in the Western series Deadwood and as the titular character in the British series Lovejoy, will provide the voice for Ragnar Sturlusson. Known as Iofur in the books, the name has been changed to avoid confusion with the similar sounding Iorek. To sample McShane's grizzly voice you can view a commercial for Deadwood here: towards the end McShane says, "No one gets out alive."

There was a little intial confusement over which actor had which role. McShane's involvement was mentioned in the Washington Post and the article's author revealed to us that the actor would be voicing "the King of the Bears." This can of course be taken to mean either Iorek or Iofur. Initially we had thought McShane would voice Iorek - he is the more major character and thus a role more likely to be announced earlier.

However, the Daily Mail then slated Iorek's voice-over part as going to Nonso Anozie and further confirmation came from Philip Pullman.

Fredie Highmore will voice Pantalaimon

Freddie Highmore will voice Lyra's daemon, Pantalaimon. Highmore's most prominent recent role has been as Charlie, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Highmore replaced Adam Goldey, who previously had the part, as the producers wanted a more youthful companion to Lyra / Dakota Blue Richards.

Ma Costa

We can reveal that Claire Higgins will take the role of Ma Costa in The Golden Compass movie. Her involvement was initially mentioned in a story the Daily Mail ran a while ago. Higgins is an accomplished stage actress, having won the prestigious Olivier Award three times in the decade between 1995 and 2005. On screen, she has performed in few films, mostly playing television roles and appearing in many British staples such as Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat and Silent Witness. Ma Costa's role has been beefed up considerably - she now accompanies Lyra to the North with the other Gyptians.

Tom Courtenay plays Farder Coram
Farder Coram
Playing Farder Coram is a knight of the realm, Sir Tom Courtenay. The actor has two Oscar nominations under his belt for The Dresser and Doctor Zhivago. Last seen in Flood and Nicholas Nickleby, Courtenay has also won a BAFTA for the TV series A Rather English Gentleman. He opined, "The film business is absurd. Stars don't last very long. It's much more interesting to be a proper actor."

Jack Shepherd plays the Master
The Master
Jack Shepherd is playing the Master of Jordan College. Mostly a television actor, his 1980s and 1990s includes Escape from Sobibor, Blind Justice and the part of detective superintendent Charles Wycliffe, in Wycliffe. Amongst Shepherd's film roles have been The Virgin Soldiers, Twenty-One and Wonderland. Most recently, Shepherd has featured in the ITV drama The Jury and in the BBC's Man and Boy. Shepherd is also an acomplished jazz musician favouring the saxophone, but has also been known to play piano and flute in some of his televison appearences.

Minor Characters

Rather unfairly, we're going to lump together a few of the more minor characters in the film here.

Lord Faa - Farder Coram - The Master - Fra Pavel

They portay in order from left-to-right:
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Images from The Golden Compass movie are © New Line Cinema.