In my opinion, the best anthology TV series have a specific running theme, such as how Netflix’s Black Mirror focuses primarily on technophobia and Modern Love on Amazon Prime is all about romance. The recurring topic in Roar, an Apple TV+ original based on a book of short stories by Cecelia Ahern, is the role that women play in the modern world.
Showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, previously known for creating Netflix’s GLOW, have employed a diverse and universally renowned ensemble of extremely talented women to lead each of the eight intense, surreal, and even absurd stories featured in the unique program’s premiere season. The following is an inside look at who each member of the Roar cast is playing and a brief summary of their careers so far, starting with one actress audiences should easily recognize.
Nicole Kidman (Robin)
Playing a woman mysteriously compelled to eat photographs in her episode of Roar is Nicole Kidman, who was last part of a star-studded, predominantly female ensemble when she was cast on HBO’s Big Little Lies. She has also had a prominent small screen presence recently as the lead of HBO’s limited drama series, The Undoing, and the Nine Perfect Strangers cast for Hulu.
After launching her career in an '80s movie with 1983’s Australian cult classic, BMX Bandits, Kidman mastered every genre imaginable, from superhero movies (Batman Forever and, later, Aquaman), musicals (most notably Moulin Rouge) to historical dramas like The Hours - which earned her an Oscar in 2003. In 2022, she earned an Oscar nom for playing Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos and, reunited with her Big Little Lies husband, Alexander Skarsgård, as his mother in Robert Eggers’ The Northman.
Cynthia Erivo (Ambia)
Playing a workaholic wife and mother who suddenly finds strange bite marks appearing on her skin in her episode of Roar is Cynthia Erivo, who was last part of a predominantly female ensemble when she made her film debut in 2018’s Widows. In 2020, the singer-songwriter earned two Oscar nominations for the historical biopic Harriet - one for playing the title role and another for co-writing and performing the original song, “Stand Up.”
She was also in the star-studded cast of 2018’s Bad Times at the El Royale and portrayed recurring Stephen King character Holly Gibney in the HBO miniseries The Outsider in 2020. The next year, Erivo appeared in two fantasy dramas - Chaos Walking and Needle in a Timestack - and received an Emmy nod for playing Aretha Franklin on National Geographic’s historical anthology series, Genius.
Merritt Wever (Elisa)
Playing a woman who finds the romantic connection she had been looking for with a duck in her episode of Roar is Merritt Wever, who was last part of a predominantly female ensemble in 2017 on Netflix’s Western miniseries Godless, for which she earned her second Emmy. She won her first Emmy in 2013 when she received her second nomination for her performance on Nurse Jackie as Zoey Barkow.
Her other prestigious TV credits including a couple of episodes of The Wire, a recurring role among the New Girl cast, and a memorable stint on The Walking Dead. You may have also seen Wever on the big screen in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, Robert Zemeckis’ partially animated biopic, Welcome to Marwen, and several Oscar darlings - including 2007’s Michael Clayton, Birdman from 2014, and another Netflix original, Marriage Story, in 2019.
Alison Brie (Becky)
Playing the ghost of a woman forced to solve her own murder in her episode of Roar is Alison Brie, who was last part of a predominantly female ensemble as the lead of GLOW. She has also been part of a few other iconic TV ensembles - namely a recurring role with the Mad Men cast and in the Community cast as Annie Edison.
The Hollywood native also leant her voice to The LEGO Movie and its sequel as Unikitty and multiple BoJack Horseman characters, worked with Steven Spielberg on The Post, and her role in the Promising Young Woman cast contributed to a few of the thriller’s most intense moments. Brie is also a bit of a Scream Queen for popping up in Scream 4, leading Netflix’s Horse Girl, and starring in The Rental - also her second collaboration with her husband, co-writer and director Dave Franco, after The Disaster Artist.
Betty Gilpin (Amelia)
Playing a woman, literally, put on a display shelf by her husband in her episode of Roar is Betty Gilpin, who last worked with Merritt Wever on Nurse Jackie and with Alison Brie on GLOW as Debbie Eagan. The latter role earned her three Emmy nominations and made her a go-to for playing badass women - such as Crystal in the 2020 action-horror film, The Hunt and Commander Taylor Fullerton on the Spotify original sci-fi audio drama Red Frontier.
She also had a recurring role on Showtime’s Masters of Sex and CBS’ Elementary in 2016, and plays Maureen Kane Dean in Starz’s scandalous, fact-based drama, Gaslit, in 2022. Gilpin is also known for movies like 2015’s True Story, the 2019 rom-com send-up Isn’t It Romantic, and, surprisingly, not playing one of the time-traveling soldiers in The Tomorrow War cast in the 2021 sci-fi flick.
Meera Syal (Anu)
Playing a woman who, literally, returns her husband as if he were a retail item in her episode of Roar is Meera Syal, who has been a part of many great ensembles since making her debut in the 1984 drama, Majdhar. The English actress and writer would go on to secure starring roles, make guest appearances, and land recurring spots on classic UK series like Absolutely Fabulous, Broadchurch, Doctor Who, or The Kumars at No. 42, to name just a few.
Syal also had a major part on HBO’s short-lived political satire The Brink, leant her voice to a few episodes of Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb, and would write, produce, and star in the autobiographical dramedy, Anita and Me, in 2002. Some of her other notable and more recent cinematic credits include the 2009 fantasy comedy, Absolutely Anything, the 2016 action-fantasy, Doctor Strange, the 2017 family fantasy, Paddington 2, and the musical fantasy Yesterday from 2019.
Fivel Stewart (Jane)
Playing a woman seeking vengeance in the Old West in her episode of Roar is Fivel Stewart, who became part of two strong ensemble casts in the same year - starring on the acclaimed teen web series T@gged and Netflix’s coming-of-age drama Atypical in 2018. However, the actress and singer has been in show business since childhood, during which she would juggle roles on TV and in movies with a career in music that includes collaborations with her brother: former Twilight cast member Booboo Stewart.
Actually, Stewart has shared the screen with her older sibling in numerous projects, including 2013’s Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft, the 2017 horror flick American Satan, and The Never List from 2020, to name just a small few. You can see her on her own in movies like the fact-based thrillers The Haunting of Sharon Tate from 2019 and 2021’s Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman, as well as the 2022 horror film, Umma.
Issa Rae (Wanda)
Playing a writer who finds herself, literally, fading away slowly in her episode of Roar is Issa Rae - an actress and writer who, in reality, has only received more mainstream exposure following her Emmy-nominated breakthrough role on the HBO comedy she co-created with Larry Wilmore, Insecure. She actually has creative input in a lot of the things she stars in, such as A Black Lady Sketch Show and her back-to-back romances she also produced in 2020: the earnest The Photograph and the darkly funny Netflix exclusive The Lovebirds.
Rae also appeared in some notable music videos (Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” as a dancer and “Moonlight” by Jay-Z as Rachel in all-Black Friends remake) and appeared on two BoJack Horseman episodes as Dr. Indira. She was also in 2018’s The Hate U Give, the 2019 gender and age swapped reimagining of Big called Little, and was recently cast in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse - Part One as the voice of Jessica Drew (better known as Spider-Woman).
When is the last time that the cast of an anthology series had you this excited? Check out Roar and its brilliant leading ladies on Apple TV+, now streaming.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.