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Where You've Seen The Cast Of The Serpent Queen Before

Sixteenth-century Europe was a treacherous place for most people no matter where or to whom they were born — and it was even more treacherous for women. Unlike today's world where politicians lob insults at each other in full view of the global stage, the world of medieval and Renaissance Europe was a chess game where a perfectly played subtle insinuation could be just as effective as raising an army and the consequences of a bad move could mean losing one's head or worse.

Of all the gutsy power players to wear a dress, one figure whose infamous reputation as a ruthless, power-hungry ruler has been passed down through the centuries is the Italian-born French Queen Catherine de' Medici. Like many high-born women of the age, she was used as a political pawn from the time she was a young child and sold off as a glorified incubator for royal blood. Over the years, her refusal to play on anyone else's terms has cemented her legend as one of the most Machiavellian rulers of all time — and one with accusations of witchcraft and the occult inextricably bound to her image. And like many once-maligned women of the age, from Anne Boleyn to Henry VII's complicated mother Lady Margaret Beaufort, Catherine looks more sympathetic from a modern perspective.

Starring Samantha Morton as the titular royal ruler, the Starz series "The Serpent Queen" takes a closer look at the life of the "Medici bi***" through a 21st-century lens. Fresh, funny, and bitingly feminist, the series has earned high praise from critics like Salon's Melanie McFarland, who celebrated the show for "rinsing away the cosmetics of royal etiquette and self-serious machination with bracing wit." Straighten your tiara and let's get into where you've seen the cast of "The Serpent Queen" before.

Samantha Morton as Catherine de' Medici

Samantha Morton stars at the Serpent Queen herself, Catherine de' Medici, and the actor's role as the Machiavellian Medici is not her first turn at wearing a crown. In 2007, Morton played the ill-fated Scottish queen Mary Stuart in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age." She has also appeared in a number of other films including "Minority Report," "The Libertine," Synecdoche, New York," "John Carter," and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." In 2022, she appeared in "The Whale," a film notable for earning Brendan Fraser broad critical acclaim.

Millennials may recognize Morton's voice from her role as Ruby in the Rosemary Wells children's series "Max & Ruby," which aired on Nick Jr. in the early 2000s. On the other end of the entertainment spectrum, Morton starred as 18th-century madame Margaret Wells in Hulu's "Harlots," telling Decider that she relished the bawd's "really dirty, dark sense of humor" and found the script "just brilliant." She went on to play the utterly maniacal Whisperer leader Alpha on "The Walking Dead," a role that would earn her accolades from critics like Collider's Vinnie Mancuso, who praised Morton's "unpredictable performance" and "out there energy," comparing the role to "Marlon Brando's psychotically magnetic Colonel Walter Kurtz." In many ways, her role in "The Serpent Queen" appears as a marriage of Alpha's ruthless, unpredictable nature and Margaret Wells' cynical, sarcastic pragmatism, making it one of her most delicious performances yet.

Enzo Cilenti as Cosimo Ruggeri

Aside from her cold Machiavellian reputation, the real Catherine De' Medici was also notorious for her obsession with the occult. Although it was fairly common for women who struggled with fertility to be suspected of witchcraft during the Renaissance, a topic discussed in Andrew D. McCarthy's "Staging the Superstitions of Early Modern Europe," people had good reason to suspect the Serpent Queen as she seemed to surround herself with practitioners of more controversial pursuits — people such as Nostradamus and the notorious Ruggeri brothers. Although it's hard to know how much of the rumor mill was true when it came to the real Cosimo Ruggeri, Enzo Cilenti plays a version of the Italian fortune teller who is more than a little cozy with the dark arts, and he's perfectly comfortable with helping his friend the queen when she needs it.

Before diving into the world of medieval black magic, the actor had an extensive filmography with quite a few historical roles including an appearance on HBO's "Rome," the BBC series "The Virgin Queen," "The Many With the Iron Heart," and the Napoleonic era alternate history "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell." "Game of Thrones" fans may recognize the actor from his performance as fighting pit owner Yezzan zo Qaggaz. He also appeared as Kip Thorne in the Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything," played Mike Watkins on "The Martian," and appeared in episodes of "Luther" and "House."

Kiruna Stamell as Mathilde

Navigating life at the French court is challenging for everyone, no matter how seasoned they might be. For someone in as precarious a position as young Catherine, it is downright treacherous and only tenable with the help of friends and allies like her ethically flexible lady's maid Mathilde (Kiruna Stamell). Despite her small stature, Mathilde is a fierce woman who has no problems doing what has to be done to protect Catherine's position, thus ensuring her own stability. Like Mathilde, actor Stamell is a dedicated professional who isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves and work hard for her craft, often in the face of tremendous adversity, something she discussed at length in an opinion piece for The Guardian.

According to Stamell's website, the actor got her start in dance, honing her gifts from a young age. She has appeared in a number of stage productions, including three Shakespearean plays. In 2001, Stamell played La Petite Princess on "Moulin Rouge!" She would later appear as Amy in the Warwick Davis-led Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant comedy series "Life's Too Short" in 2011. In 2016, Stamell appeared with Jude Law and John Malkovich in HBO's "The New Pope"; she also played Enid Flay on an episode of the British detective series "Father Brown."

Danny Kirrane as Louis de Bourbon

Among the many rivals and foes Catherine de' Medici found herself facing off with in the French court, some of her greatest threats were found in the houses of Bourbon and Guise. According to Smithsonian Magazine, her troubled relationship with both houses would prove instrumental in the Serpent Queen's eventual ascension to power. Danny Kirrane appears in "The Serpent Queen" as Louis de Bourbon, one of the two Bourbon brothers the queen had to contend with.

Setting aside his degree in astrophysics from Leeds University (as reported in The Yorkshire Post), Kirrane has been acting in television and film since 2007 when he first appeared on "Skins" as Kevin. He has been seen on a number of British television shows, including a brief appearance on the popular British soap "Doctors" in 2010. In 2017, Kirrane played Dying Gull crewman Bollard in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales"; that same year, he also appeared as Stark guard Henk on "Game of Thrones." More recently, he went on to play the serial killer Fun Land on the Neil Gaiman Netflix series "The Sandman."

Nicholas Burns as Antoine de Bourbon

Nicholas Burns appears as the elder Bourbon son and Queen Catherine political rival Antoine de Bourbon on "The Serpent Queen." Like many of his "Serpent Queen" castmates, Burns has compiled a number of stage credits, including the Shakespeare play "Much Ado About Nothing." He also has extensive acting credits in British television productions from the BBC, Channel 4, and ITV. American audiences may recognize his earlier performance as the King on the surrealist comedy series "The Mighty Boosh" in 2005, or his 2007 spot as Jerome on "The IT Crowd." In 2009, he appeared in an episode of the sci-fi series "Misfits," and he also played the wealthy and villainous Lord Sutcliffe in the 2017 Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) "Doctor Who" episode "Thin Ice." The same year, Burns played United Kingdom Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Nutting on the Netflix series "The Crown."

Antonia Clarke as Mary, Queen of Scots

Although a good deal of the tale was fictionalized, the rivalry between Catherine de' Medici and Mary, Queen of Scots was a plot-driving theme in the part YA fantasy, part historical drama "Reign," which depicts the Medici matriarch as quite possibly the worst mother-in-law of all time. And it's not hard to see why writers love exploring this relationship, since the real life Queen Mary Stuart and Queen Catherine were notoriously strong, formidable women. In the Starz series, the Scottish queen is portrayed by English actor and singer Antonia Clarke. In 2012, Clarke was part of the vocal cast of "Les Misérables," starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. She appeared with Elle Fanning in the 2018 film "Teen Spirit," which was written and directed by Max Minghella, who plays Nick Blaine in "The Handmaid's Tale." Clarke has also had a handful of television roles and has appeared on episodes of "Skins," "Law & Order: UK," and the Michaela Coel black comedy series "I May Destroy You."

Beth Goddard as Antoinette de Guise

The grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots, Antoinette de Guise was so ruthless that according to historian Stuart Carroll, she managed to find room in her busy schedule for burning at least one Protestant. With nine children and a family full of nobles and powerful clergymen (per the genealogy site Geni), Antoinette would have been a serious player in the French court. In "The Serpent Queen," this Medici-menacing matriarch is played by Beth Goddard, a seasoned actor with plenty of British TV credits under her belt, including appearances in "Agatha Christie's Poirot," "Midsomer Murders," "The Sarah Jane Adventures," and "Call the Midwife." In 2011, Goddard appeared as Mrs. Xavier in the superhero film "X-Men: First Class." She also appeared as Judith in the 2014 action sci-fi film "Edge of Tomorrow," starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, and fans of the fantasy romance "Outlander" may recognize Goddard from her 2017 appearance as English noblewoman Lady Louisa Dunsany.

Charles Dance as Pope Clement VII

Appearing as Pope Clement VII in "The Serpent Queen," Charles Dance OBE is a British actor with decades of recognizable roles on the big and small screens. Back in the 1970s, Dance acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company; his list of film credits includes "Alien 3," "The Imitation Game," the 2016 "Ghostbusters," and "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," just to name a few. Dance has been appearing on television since 1974, when he was first seen on the British detective series "Father Brown." The actor has gone on to land a number of British TV roles, including a 2009 appearance on "Merlin" as Aredian. He is most recognizable to international audiences for his role as Tywin Lannister on "Game of Thrones" beginning in 2011. Dance also appeared in the Netflix historical drama "The Crown" as British naval officer Lord Mountbatten from 2019 through 2020, and can more recently be seen in "The Sandman," where he plays The Daemon King Roderick Burgess.

Colm Meaney as King Francis

Before the young Catherine can even get close to becoming a queen, she has to get past a pretty big firewall: the French royal family. And all of that begins with getting young Henri's controlling and occasionally ruthless dad on her side. Irish actor Colm Meaney plays the macho monarch King Francis. Fans of the "Star Trek" universe will recognize the actor for his portrayal of Miles O'Brien on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." While playing the engineer, Meaney racked up 225 episodes in all, placing him just under Michael Dorn, who played Worf, in number of onscreen episode appearances. Meaney's extensive film resume includes roles in "Die Hard 2," "The Last of the Mohicans," "Far and Away," "Con Air," and "Marlowe," among others. Besides his work in the "Star Trek" series, the actor has appeared in quite a few TV shows including "Stargate: Atlantis," where he played Chief Cowen, and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," where he appeared as Shelley Kelly. He also played the ethically murky industrialist and financier Thomas "Doc" Durant in AMC's "Hell on Wheels," a performance that earned him a Saturn Award nomination.

Navid Negahban as Claude, Duke of Guise

Navid Negahban plays aristocrat and general Claude, Duke of Guise on "The Serpent Queen." Many audiences will recognize the Iranian-American actor for his work on "Homeland," where he played Palestinian-born al-Qaeda leader Abu Nazir for three seasons. Negahban also appeared in quite a few episodes of "24," playing two different characters during the show's run. From 2018 through 2019, the actor appeared on "Legion" as the psychic mutant Amahl Farouk the Shadow King. He can be seen in a number of guest appearances on shows like "Veep," "CSI: NY," "The Mentalist," "Fringe," and "The Cleaning Lady." Besides his work in film and on television, Negahban has also done quite a bit of voice acting, lending his voice to the anime series "Castlevania" where he played monk leader Sala, and voicing characters in video games such as "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War," "Medal of Honor," and "Dark Void," among others.

Paul Chahidi as Charles de Bourbon

Like everyone else Catherine de' Medici had to contend with in the French court, privy council member Charles de Bourbon would have represented a lingering threat to the sovereign's stability. On "The Serpent Queen," the aristocrat is played by Royal Shakespeare Company actor and Tony Award nominee Paul Chahidi. Primarily known for his work onstage, Chahidi has won critical acclaim for his theatrical performances, particularly in the all-male Shakespeare productions of "Richard III" and "Twelfth Night." According to New York Daily News, Chahidi's performance as Maria in the Shakespearean comedy required the actor to wear a "rib-crushing corset and billowing gown" with a $16,000 price tag. When he's not wowing theater audiences, Chahidi occasionally shows up in front of a camera: In 2017, he played Soviet Minister of Defense Nikolai Bulganin in the dark political satire "The Death of Stalin," and appeared as Cecil Hungerford in the Disney's live-action and animated film "Christopher Robin" the following year. And in 2019, he played angel and right-hand man to Gabriel Sandalphon in the Neil Gaiman series "Good Omens."

Adam Garcia as Sebastio

It's tough being a female monarch in a world where men wield all the power. But if Marie Antoinette and Elizabeth I taught us anything, it's that dressing the part is essential for any woman who wishes to project power and confidence, a lesson young Princess Catherine learns fairly early in the game. That's why from the moment she first takes off for France, her personal atelier Sebastio is an essential part of her entourage.

In "The Serpent Queen," Sebastio is played by Adam Garcia. Besides his successful film and television career, Garcia is an accomplished stage actor, singer, and tap dancer, according to the UK publication Daily Echo. He also had a chance to flex his knowledge of dance when he appeared as a judge on the UK dance competition show "Got to Dance" and the Australian "Dancing With the Stars Australia" and "Dance Boss."

Whovians may recall Garcia's face from his role as Alex in the 2005 "Doctor Who" special "The Christmas Invasion." The actor has also appeared on a handful of TV shows, including "House," "Flight of the Conchords," and the TNT police procedural "Perception." On the film side, Garcia's past projects include "Coyote Ugly," "Riding in Cars With Boys," and "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" as well as Kenneth Branagh's adaptations of the Agatha Christie books "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Death on the Nile."