Netflix's Inventing Anna seems like it was designed to make sure people will talk about it. Not only is it based on a real-life story of a woman who scammed a bunch of wealthy New Yorkers — juicy in its own right — but it features Julia Garner speaking with a TRULY bananas accent, and oh yeah, it's the first Netflix series created by Shonda Rhimes. Unsurprisingly, the show is incredibly well cast, from the regulars who you'll read about below to the cavalcade of familiar guest stars who all seem to have previously been on Scandal. (Is that you, Joshua Malina??)
The series is based on the real-life story of scammer Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin), but much of the periphery has been fictionalized. To better help you parse the characters and the actors portraying them, please enjoy this breakdown of the cast.
Anna Delvey was the alias of Anna Sorokin, a Russian-born woman who, from 2013 to 2017, scammed hotels, banks, and a bunch of wealthy New Yorkers out of a whole bunch of money. The story broke in 2018, and fascinated many — enough, certainly, to have this TV show made about her. She's played by actress Julia Garner, currently one of the stars of Netflix's Ozark, having won two consecutive Emmy awards for playing Ruth Langmore. The Bronx-born actress has also appeared in films such as Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Assistant, as well as shows like Dirty John and The Americans.
The article that first brought Anna Delvey's story to the masses was a New York magazine piece by Jessica Pressler, who also wrote the article that was the basis for the movie Hustlers. While that film had a Pressler analogue, played by Julia Stiles, she was a minor character at the fringes of the narrative. Inventing Anna puts the writer front and center with the character of Vivian Kent. Vivian is highly fictionalized, with her own storyline and a job at "Manhattan" magazine. She's dealing with obstinate editors at work as well as being pregnant with her first child, all while trying to dig to the bottom of Anna's story. She's played by Anna Chlumsky, who got her start as the lead in the family film My Girl in 1991 but is now best known for playing political aide Amy Brookheimer on Veep, a role for which she earned six Emmy nominations.
Anna is arrested for fraud at the very top of the series, so she's going to need a lawyer to keep her out of prison. Enter her capable attorney who's trying his best not to be overwhelmed by the challenge of dealing with a client as unpredictable as Anna. He's played by Arian Moayed, who has spent the last three seasons on Succession, playing Roy family business rival Stewie Hosseini. Moayed has seen his best success on Broadway, including a Tony Award nomination for his role in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, as well as a role in the original Broadway production of The Humans.
After breaking through as Sophia Burset on Orange Is the New Black, Laverne Cox has been all over film and television, including appearances on The Mindy Project, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and A Black Lady Sketch Show. In 2017, she played the lead role of Dr. Frank N. Furger on FOX's live musical presentation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Film-wise, she's had roles opposite Lily Tomlin in Grandma and Carey Mulligan in the Oscar-nominated Promising Young Woman. In Inventing Anna, she plays Kacey Duke, a fitness guru who is among Anna's close circle of friends in New York, even if now she realizes she never knew Anna at all.
Considering the high concentration of Scandal cast members in this show, it's no surprise to see Katie Lowes show up as Rachel, another one of Anna's friends who is now keeping her distance from the girl she thought she knew. Lowes starred for seven seasons as Quinn Perkins, who started the series as a meek apprentice lawyer and evolved into — like everyone on that show — a remorseless killing machine.
Neff is another of Anna's friends, a co-worker at one of the hotels where Anna ultimately scammed her way into the sweet life. Previous to Inventing Anna, Floyd played Tia Clayton on the Freeform series The Bold Type.
Alongside Adam DeVine and Blake Anderson, Anders Holm was one of the three creators and stars of the Comedy Central series Workaholics. He's managed to parlay that show into TV roles on The Mindy Project and on the short-lived NBC series Champions, as well as a memorable film role in The Intern, in which he played Anne Hathaway's crappy husband. As Jack Mercer on Inventing Anna, he plays Vivian's husband, trying to hold down the fort at home while his wife is chases the story of a lifetime.
Another Shondaland all-star is Kate Burton, who memorably played Meredith's mother, Ellis Grey, on Grey's Anatomy, as well as consrrvative Southern Vice-President turned cable TV personality Sally Langston on Scandal. On Inventing Anna, she plays wealthy Manhattan socialite Nora Radford, who takes in Anna and is ultimately defrauded by her.
As Vivian tracks down Anna's story and begins unraveling the details, she learns about Chase, whose romantic relationship with Anna is covered in some detail on the show. A wannabe tech millionaire, Chase ends up competing for Anna's affections, and Vivan ends up suspecting him of being in on Anna's scam. Previous to this, Usmani played Avery Watkins opposite Renee Zellweger on the Netflix series What/If, and Prince Errol on The WB's Katy Keene.
At Manhattan Magazine, Vivian has been banished by her editor to a dark corner with the other put-to-pasture old writers, who all end up helping her on her story. One of these is Maud, played by actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith. While she may be most recognizable to TV viewers for her roles as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally on The West Wing and nursing administrator Gloria Akalitus on Nurse Jackie, Smith's greatest accomplishments have been as a playwright and performer of her one-woman shows like Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 and Notes from the Field.
Jeff Perry is a beloved member of the Shondaland family, starting with a brief stint as Thatcher Grey — Meredith's father — on Grey's Anatomy, followed by playing the deliciously, villainously complicated political operator Cyrus Beene on Scandal. As Lou, he's one of the Manhattan magazine writers who helps Vivian report her story.
The third of the old-timers trio is Barry, played by longtime TV veteran Terry Kinney. He and co-star Jeff Perry go back to the 1970s when they, along with Gary Sinise, co-founded the famed Steppenwolf theater company in Chicago, a company whose original members included John Malkovich and Laurie Metcalf, and subsequently actors like Joan Allen, Tracy Letts, and Carrie Coon. Kinney's best known TV role was as prison official Tim McManus on the HBO series Oz.
Inventing Anna premieres on Netflix Friday February 11th
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Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: Inventing Anna, Netflix, Alexis Floyd, Anders Holm, Anna Chlumsky, Anna Deavere Smith, Arian Moayed, Jeff Perry, Julia Garner, Kate Burton, Katie Lowes, Laverne Cox, Saamer Usmani, Shonda Rhimes, Terry Kinney