Prestige war dramas from acclaimed British filmmakers can often seem like a dime a dozen. While the stories they tell are certainly important, as it's always good to remember the wars and battles that define our countries and world, it can be hard to stand out compared to many other dramas in this packed genre.
To the credit of Oscar-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead, Skyfall), 1917 most certainly stands out. Shot as though it were one long, arduous continuous take (well, technically two, but let's not get into technicalities), this sweeping, exhilarating drama adamantly aims to make you feel as though you're caught in the action with these hapless and often helpless soldiers, experiencing each and every little moment of intense panic and dismay as our young protagonists hustle vigorously for their lives, particularly as they attempt to share the message that might save their country and finally put a long and tension-filled war to rest in the midst of heated panic.
Receiving 10 Oscar nominations at this year's Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and walking away with three wins for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Mixing, it can be easy to forget how much the acting makes such an intensely visceral movie like 1917 work. (For all its nominations, the actors were overall ignored.) Certainly, in a commendable cast that includes both up-and-comers and established talents, this high-grade ensemble shouldn't ultimately be ignored. Now that it's been nearly a year since the movie made its way into theaters, what's the 1917 cast up to now? Well, let's take a look and find out!
George MacKay (Lance Corporal William "Will" Schofield)
As our central protagonist, Lance Corporal William "Will" Schofield, the solider who must travel to great lengths to send the message that might save the lives of thousands, George MacKay serves as our guide throughout this long, expansive wartime action-drama-thriller. While this leading role in this Oscar-winning prestige movie was certainly the actor's most well-known role, MacKay has been demonstrating his talents in a number of projects in the past few years. Most notably, he was seen in Captain Fantastic, Hulu's 11.22.63, The Outcast, Johnny and the Bomb, Tsunami: The Aftermath, Pride, Marrowbone, Ophelia, Sunshine on Leith, How I Live Now, Defiance, and Hunky Dory.
Most recently, George MacKay played the lead role in True History of the Kelly Gang and starred in Nuclear and the mini-series, Ataraxia. He also just filmed a role in Wolf and he's currently in production for Netflix's Munich.
Dean-Charles Chapman (Lance Corporal Thomas "Tom" Blake)
Playing the part of Lance Corporal Thomas Blake, i.e. Tom, who's ordered alongside William Schofield to deliver the all-important message to Colonel Mackenzie, Dean-Charles Chapman plays the second most prominent role in 1917, and a tragic one to boot. Best known for his role as Tommen Baratheon in Game of Thrones' final three seasons, Chapman was also the title role in West End's production of Billy Elliot: The Musical and he appeared in Into the Badlands, The White Queen, The Revolting World of Stanley Brown, Cuckoo, Before I Go To Sleep, Man Up, Will, Casualty, The Commuter, Blinded by the Light, The King, Breathe, Glue, Ripper Street, and Fungus the Bogeyman.
Most recently, Dean-Charles Chapman played the lead in Here Are the Young Men, alongside Anya-Taylor Joy and Travis Fimmel, earlier this year. He doesn't have any additional titles coming up at this time.
Colin Firth (General Erinmore)
In the role of General Erinmore, the commanding officer who sends our two small-scale soldiers on their very perilous mission seen throughout the film, Colin Firth played a key expository role in 1917's opening moments. An Oscar winner for The King's Speech, the English actor is also known for the Bridget Jones trilogy, The English Patient, Love Actually, Shakespeare in Love, the Kingsman movies, A Single Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Mary Poppins Returns, 1995's Pride and Prejudice, 1997's Fever Pitch, and the Mamma Mia movies. Firth was recently seen in The Secret Garden earlier this year.
Next, Colin Firth stars in Supernova, which comes out in the U.S. in January of next year. He'll be seen in Mothering Sunday next year as well. And he'll go from WWI to WWII with the upcoming war-based drama, Operation Mincemeat, which is expected to come out next year, too.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Colonel Mackenzie)
As Colonel Mackenzie, the commanding officer whom Will tells his urgent life-or-death message, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a small-but-critical role in this movie's rousing climax. Best known for playing the title role in BBC's Sherlock, Doctor Strange in the MCU, Smaug in The Hobbit franchise, and Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, the Oscar nominee is also prominent for The Imitation Game, Patrick Melrose, Parade's End, The Fifth Estate, War Horse, The Current War, 2018's The Grinch, The Last Enemy, and 12 Years a Slave.
Most recently, Benedict Cumberbatch starred in The Courier, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Its wide release comes in February. His other upcoming roles include Prisoner 760, The Power of the Dog, and Louis, which are all expected next year. And he's reprising the role of Doctor Strange in MCU's Spider-Man 3, which is now filming, and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
Mark Strong (Captain Smith)
In the role of Captain Smith, a British officer who offers some world-weary advice to our traveling soldiers, Mark Strong is one of a series of starry cameos seen throughout 1917. An accomplished British actor with several prominent roles in his resume, Strong is best known for the Kingsman movies, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Stardust, Zero Dark Thirty, The Imitation Game, RocknRolla, The Eagle, The Guard, The Young Victoria, Body of Lies, Sunshine, Revolver, Fever Pitch (1997), Syriana, Tristan & Isolde, Robin Hood, Grimby, Green Lantern, Our Friends in the North, Low Winter Sun, Temple, and Shazam! He also narrated Who Do You Think You Are? and voiced a role in Netflix's The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Next, Mark Strong stars in Disney's Cruella, which is slated for May 2021. He'll also play Captain Thomas Wade in the video game, Squadron 42.
Andrew Scott (Lieutenant Smith)
As Lieutenant Smith, an experienced war veteran who gives our lead characters some key bits of advice, Andrew Scott provides a charismatic turn in Sam Mendes' 1917. The charming Irish actor is best known for playing Jim Moriarty in BBC's Sherlock, for which he won a BAFTA, and the Priest in the second season of Fleabag. His other notable credits include Black Mirror, Modern Love, Band of Brothers, My Life in Film, Longitude, Locke, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Spectre, Victor Frankenstein, A Dark Place, Saving Private Ryan, Pride, Jimmy's Hall, John Adams, and Denial.
Most recently, Andrew Scott was seen in Three Kings. He also returns for a new season of His Dark Materials. His latest projects include Ripley, which he'll also produce, The Pursuit of Love, Oslo, and the short film, Cognition. Additionally, Scott lends his voice to an animated adaptation of Heart of Darkness.
Richard Madden (Lieutenant Joseph Blake)
Playing the part of Lieutenant Joseph Blake, the older brother of Will's companion, Lance Corporal Thomas Blake, Richard Madden's cameo provides an emotional coda to 1917's long and harrowing journey. Primarily best known for his role as Robb Stark in the first three seasons of Game of Thrones, the Scottish actor later gained notice and acclaim for his lead role in the BBC mini-series, Bodyguard, which resulted in a Golden Globe win for Best Actor — Television Series Drama. He was also notably seen in Disney's live-action Cinderella remake and last year's Elton John biopic, Rocketman. His other credits include Medici: Masters of Florence, Bastille Day, Sirens, Hope Springs, and Barmy Aunt Boomerang.
Next, Richard Madden stars in Marvel's upcoming The Eternals, which is scheduled to hit theaters on November 5th, 2021. He's also slated to star in the new drama mini-series, Citadel, alongside Priyanka Chopra.
Claire Duburcq (Lauri)
In the role of Lauri, a French woman with a baby whom our always-on-the-go protagonist temporarily bunkers with during a briefly quiet moment in the action, first-time actress Claire Duburcq made her screen debut in Sam Mendes' award-favorite war drama. Gotta say, this intense movie certainly isn't the most... stress-free film to kick off your acting career, though it's certainly a notable debut nonetheless. When your first movie is one of the most award-recognized movies of the year, you're bound to get some notice as your career advances forward. Nevertheless, it's still very early in Duburcq's career and 1917 is the only thing American audiences have seen her in thus far.
Earlier this year, Claire Duburcq made her acting follow-up with the drama film, Gold for Dogs, which premiered at a few film festivals. She currently doesn't have any additional roles lined up in the near future.
Were you a fan of 1917? Who was your favorite character or cast member? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below!
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Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.