Based on the Harlon Coben novel of the same name, Netflix's new pyschological thriller The Stranger revolves around an entity known only as The Stranger, who comes into people’s lives and divulges loved ones’ secrets — with very dire results. Imagine a non-tech version of your Twitter DMs being made public, with the show's cast of characters forced to live with their dirtiest laundry being hung out to dry for all the town square to see.
A UK-based Netflix original, the series features an ensemble cast whose names may not be familiar to all of us stateside, but whose faces almost certainly will be. Here’s a rundown of the show's dramatis personae, and where you've seen them before.
Best known internationally as Thorin Oakenshield from Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy, Armitage is an Olivier-nominated actor. He also played the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde (aka "The Tooth Fairy") on the much-loved NBC series Hannibal. Most of his other credits have been on British series, save for a recent stint on Epix’s Berlin Station, where he appeared alongside Richard Jenkins, Ashley Judd and Keke Palmer. On stage, he’s starred as John Proctor in The Crucible (that would be the Olivier nomination).
Finneran's long resume includes TV work every year since 1989, including Downton Abbey, in which she played Sarah O’Brien, the scheming and manipulative personal maid to HBIC Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern). After causing Lady Grantham to miscarry, O’Brien’s villainous streak ended when the character was written out during the fourth season. At the time, Finneran called O’Brien a "thoroughly despicable human being — that was great to play."
The creator, writer and star of Absolutely Fabulous, Jennifer Saunders has won three BAFTA Awards, including one as the show's creator and one as its lead actress. She also wrote the Absolutely Fabulous movie. And if her voice sounds familiar, it’s because, well, her voice has been in everything: she was the Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2, Queen Elizabeth in Minions and April Spink in Coraline. Perhaps most importantly, she was the woman who engages in a fashion-heavy conversation with Victoria Beckham’s Posh Spice in Spice World.
Cue the Beanie Fieldstein gif it’s … the titular … role! You may not know Hannah John-Kamen by name, but you’ve almost certainly encountered her in one way or another, since she was in two of the biggest franchises of the 2010s: Game of Thrones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. John-Kamen showed up in Thrones in two episodes as Ornela, who befriends Daenerys Targaryen in Season 6. In the Marvel world, she played ghost, the villain in Ant-Man & the Wasp. Her best role has been as Dutch, the headstrong bounty hunter and lead character in Syfy's recently-completed series Killjoys. She also had a minor role in Steven Spielberg’s underloved Ready Player One.
Another Thrones alum, Kaye portrayed Thoros of Myr, a red priest who was featured in several seasons of the fantasy series, including when he joins Jon Snow in his quest beyond the wall to capture one of the undead ice zombies. He’s also had arcs on shows like Lilyhammer, Year of the Rabbit and Ricky Gervais’s After Life, and you may have stumbled across Kaye's alter ego "Dennis Pennis" online, a kind of British Triumph the Insult Comic Dog who is not a dog, but just as adept at roasting celebrities.
Best known for his role as Rupert Giles (soft G, unless you’re the Buffybot) on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Head has starred in films like The Iron Lady and has had a long association with Doctor Who, guest starring on many an episode, as well as narrating the docuseries Doctor Who Confidential. Head was also an extremely sexy Dr. Frank N Furter from Rocky Horror (and here’s video proof).
A 1992 Academy Award nominee for his role in The Crying Game, Stephen Rea has enjoyed a 50-year acting career. His most notable roles have stemmed from his professional partnership with director Neil Jordan. In addition to The Crying Game, Rea appeared in Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, The End of the Affair, Breakfast on Pluto, and last year's Greta. Other notable films include Robert Altman's Pret-a-Porter, V for Vendetta, and the BBC miniseries The Honourable Woman.
Season 1 of The Stranger is now streaming on Netflix.
Mathew Rodriguez is an award-winning editor, journalist and essayist. He is currently the associate editor at TheBody and has written for Out, The Village Voice, Teen Vogue, Mic, INTO and The Advocate.