The TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials produced by Bad Wold and New Line Cinema for BBC One and HBO is due to air later this year. Leading up to this have been announcements of the cast and now the BBC have revealed the voice cast for the animal characters in the series.
In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Material trilogy, sentient, talking animals play a huge role. In particular in the animal consciences, called daemons, which are a part of every person’s soul in the Northern Lights book. These daemons while attached to their human are characters with personalities of their own.
The cast for the daemons includes; Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders) voicing Stelmaria, Lord Asriel’s Snow Leopard, David Suchet (Poirot) voicing Kaisa, gyrfalcon daemon to the witch Serafina Pekkala, American comedian Cristela Alonzo voices Aeronaut Lee Scoresby’s arctic hare daemon Hester.
The main character, Lyra Belacqua’s daemon is what the books describe as unsettled, since she is still young, her daemon can shapeshift into different animals depending on its current feelings, however, he is most often seen as an ermine, a wildcat or a mouse. Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon, fondly called as ‘Pan’, will be voiced by Kit Connor (Roketman).
The story’s antagonist, Mrs Coulter’s daemon is an evil golden monkey who doesn’t actually speak or even have a name, however, the vocal sounds and characteristic of this character will be voiced by Brian Fisher (Detective Pikachu). Fisher is also lead puppeteer and CFX coordinator on the His Dark Material series. “Puppets were used on set to help the actors form a relationship with their daemon before being created in CGI by Framestore,” reports the BBC.
Daemon’s are not the only way that animals take on a vocal role in Pullman’s books though. In the frozen wilderness of the North, live armoured bears, also known as panserbjørne, who are skilled metal workers and fierce warriors. Most notable among these bears is Iorek Byrnison who Lyra meets and befriends on her journey. Byrnison will be voiced by Joe Tandberg (The Innocents).