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Where You've Seen The Cast Of Kindred Before

FX's new Hulu new time travel series "Kindred" is based on Octavia Butler's searing 1979 novel of the same name. Described by Butler as a grim fantasy, "Kindred" tells the tale of Dana, a Black woman living in present-day California who is mysteriously transported to antebellum Maryland and the household of the enslavers who would become her ancestors. 

As seen in the trailer first released in November, Hulu has managed to translate all that grisly psychological (and sometimes physical) horror onto the screen extremely effectively. The show has all the qualities of an excellent binge-watch, so while you prepare to enjoy the series in a single sitting, we will be turning our attention to the stars of the show. 

There are fresh faces, veteran workaday actors, and a little bit of something in between. For some, it's their first foray into the supernatural, while others are already well acquainted with the inexplicable. Will their experience or lack thereof be an asset or a hindrance? There's only one way to find out — but in the meantime, let's take a look at the primary players!

Mallori Johnson as Dana James

Even before the release of "Kindred," 2022 had been a big year for Mallori Johnson, who is new on the scene but has been making a big splash. 

Johnson's first role was as Bea in the AppleTV+ series "WeCrashed," which dramatizes the collapse of the coworking startup WeWork and stars Anne Hathaway alongside Jared Leto. The limited series ran from March to April of 2022 and received a mixed response from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. From there, Johnson moved directly on to the lead role in "Kindred" on FX/Hulu, which is a huge step up and shows just how much faith showrunners have in her ability to carry this psychological thriller on her shoulders. 

Judging by her Juilliard resumé, that faith seems well-founded. With her promising work in the "Kindred" trailer already causing chills, Mallori could very well be one to watch for years to come. Right now, her post "Kindred" credits on IMDb list only a single feature film in post-production, but expect that to change fairly quickly. Johnson looks poised to make 2023 a breakout year for herself.

Micah Stock as Kevin Franklin

Micah Stock will be playing the role of Dana's husband, Kevin, in "Kindred." It's the next step in a career that has gradually progressed in an upward trajectory since his first role in a single episode of the series "Pan Am" back in 2011. 

Since his debut, Stock has landed a few small parts in one-off episodes of shows like "Law & Order: SVU," before moving into slightly more significant roles, such as his appearance as Reed Philbin in the series "Escape from Dannemora" and a part in the film "Brittany Runs a Marathon." By far his biggest role to date, however, was in the Disney+ series "The Right Stuff," in which he played astronaut Deke Slayton, but he also has a major role in the much lighter fare that is the Netflix series "Bonding." 

None of these earlier projects, though, have held the terrifying thrall that "Kindred" promises, so fans will finally get a chance to see just how versatile an actor Micah really is.

Ryan Kwanten as Thomas Weylin

A veteran voice actor who's also appeared in bit parts in "New Girl" and "Law & Order: SVU," Ryan Kwanten was a familiar face in last year's Amazon Prime series "Them," but is best known as the goofy, loveable, gorgeous Jason Stackhouse from HBO's "True Blood." Jason was a key, fan-favorite character in that series, upending many traditional male stereotypes — although don't expect the same of Thomas Weylin in "Kindred." Aside from requiring this Australian actor to convincingly play a Southerner again, in fact, the two roles almost couldn't be further apart. 

Kwanten plays Thomas in "Kindred," who is a cruel, entitled, violent, and dangerous character. While it is likely enough years have passed since "True Blood" that people will be able to accept Kwanten in this new role, it will no doubt still be difficult to watch some of his scenes — Thomas is that bad. Now, fans don't yet know if "Kindred" will encompass the whole book or merely lead us through parts of the story, but IMDb says Kwanten is appearing in all eight episodes. 

Given the many years that go by in the past timeline of "Kindred" — despite things progressing fairly slowly in the contemporary Los Angeles setting — we may see Kwanten undergo some major aging makeup or perhaps even take over the role as Thomas' son Rufus all grown up. It's hard to say, but if "True Blood" taught us anything, it's that everything is possible.

Gayle Rankin as Margaret Weylin

For the most part, Gayle Rankin has seen her career go from tiny TV roles to film shorts to bit movie roles to series television, and it's in this last category where she really hit her stride and stood out from the crowd. Truly, there is no character in the series more unique than Sheila the She-Wolf on Netflix's "GLOW," a brilliantly witty series about women wrestlers in the '80s that deserved far more than just three seasons. Sheila, in particular, was a character who at first felt uncomfortable in her own skin and grew in leaps and bounds over the show's tenure to really find her footing and know who she was. 

In "Kindred," Margaret Weylin is a much more confident character, having grown up in extreme privilege. She is indulgent and cruel and used to getting her way, which makes her a threatening presence beneath her sweet Southern drawl. Another recent role Rankin embodied was that of Emily Dodson on HBO's "Perry Mason" series, and this one shares a sad fate with Margaret Weylin — the loss of a child. No doubt Rankin used what she learned by playing Emily's devastation to inform the helpless emptiness that Margaret feels as well. Still, while Emily became a shell of a person, Margaret may very well become more treacherous.

David Alexander Kaplan as Rufus Weylin

Whatever is tethering Dana to antebellum Maryland in Hulu's upcoming "Kindred," it has to do with Rufus Weylin, a boy who is at once lonely and spoiled, sensitive and cruel, needy and withholding. It's a pivotal and challenging role in the series and therefore must be undertaken by an incredibly gifted actor who also happens to be a child. For the "Kindred" producers, David Alexander Kaplan was their pick. 

Despite only turning 10 this year, Kaplan already has seven credits to his name, not including the forthcoming "Kindred" series. Debuting in the TV movie "A Sister's Secret" at the age of six, Kaplan has appeared in shows or films in some capacity every year since, all the way up through Season 4 of "Stranger Things" where he appeared as Twelve, one of the telekinetically gifted children kept at the same facility Eleven came from. 

As Dana's connection to 19th century Maryland in "Kindred," however, Rufus grows up considerably across the span of the book. Will the series cover this with another actor stepping in down the line? Or will producers set us up for a more extended series with a more curtailed story this time out? "Kindred" is listed as a limited series, which suggests it will be wholly encapsulated in these eight episodes, but fans will just have to wait and see.

Austin Smith as Luke

Austin Smith is not throwing away his shot. After playing a few small parts in TV shows from 2016 to 2019, Smith landed a coveted role in the ensemble of "Hamilton" on Broadway and was eventually part of the cast for the Disney+ production. Like Mallori Johnson, Smith also attended Juilliard and performed in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions before securing the spot in "Hamilton," which is nothing short of the biggest musical in a generation. 

Since then, he played a part in the super cool, super trippy Netflix series "Russian Doll," and now he's appearing in "Kindred" as Luke, a slave on the Weylin plantation. Luke is a smaller role, but one that nevertheless offers a stark view of how even a well-respected and trusted slave is still denied basic dignity and agency in even the simplest of life's moments. Luke is the father of Nigel, a playmate to young Rufus. However, as the two children are separated by race, Luke will have no standing to chastise both boys equally -– or to scold Rufus at all, really –- and will be unable to protect or stand up for his son if things get heated. In this way, the character provides a window for the audience to witness the true scope and horror of the slaves' positions.

Louis Cancelmi as Carlo

Louis Cancelmi's role in "Kindred" is not immediately obvious to those who have read the book, so he's either a minor figure expanded for the TV adaptation or a wholly new character created to fill out the world of the story — likely in Dana's present. 

What we do know, however, is that Cancelmi has been a veteran character actor for nearly 20 years and is sure to put his considerable experience to work here. His most recent projects have included the miniseries "The Accidental Wolf" and Showtime hit "Billions" as Victor Mateo. He also appeared in 2021's "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" as Richard Fletcher. Before that, he appeared in Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," as well as "21 Bridges" with Chadwick Boseman

Cancelmi has also appeared in multi-episode arcs on "Blue Bloods" and "Boardwalk Empire," and he's had single-episode roles on a half dozen different procedurals. These include "The Blacklist," "Chicago P.D.," "Elementary," "Third Watch," two different "Law & Order" series — with one episode on the original show and two episodes as different characters in "Criminal Intent" — and "Inside Amy Schumer," which was like a procedural of laughs. Not to mention that, in addition to "Kindred," Louis has four other projects currently in pre- or post-production. So be on the lookout for him — just about everywhere.

Brooke Bloom as Hermione

Credited in three of the eight episodes of "Kindred," it's safe to say Brooke Bloom's role of Hermione is not a major one, but that probably doesn't bother Brooke Bloom. Character actors are a staple of the industry, supporting the stories and making them work, rounding out the world being performed. Actors like Bloom are important and often memorable — even if we don't always know what name to attach to the memory. 

For example, Brooke Bloom was in both "The Gilded Age" series on HBO and 2019's acclaimed film "Marriage Story," both of which received a fair amount of attention. She was in both "Louie" and "The New Normal," two highly scrutinized and talked about shows. 

The most memorable, beloved, and buzzed-about show Bloom has appeared in, however, goes all the way back to 1999 and one of the most talked about episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ever: "Hush." It's remembered as one of the best episodes of a show that maintains a dedicated cult following more than 20 years after the fact, so it is no doubt that Bloom's presence, while slight, is remembered. Brooke plays one of the lead members of the Wicca group Willow (Alyson Hannigan) joins, and large role or not, it's woven her into the fabric of television history. Maybe "Kindred" will do the same.

Christopher Farrar as Nigel

Nigel is a playmate to Rufus in "Kindred," but since Nigel is the son of a slave and Rufus is the son of a slaveholder, they are never equals. Their friendship might be genuine, but it is also as good as forced. This dynamic adds an interesting wrinkle to the character of Rufus as he struggles throughout the series with his obvious affection for many of the Black people he knows butting up against the rules of the society he is a part of. 

The inverse of those emotions will also be visible through the eyes of Christopher Farrar, who plays Nigel. Farrar has been acting since 2015 when he was only six years old, so at 13 he's already a seasoned pro with more than a dozen screen credits to his name. Although his age -– and therefore, appearance -– have no doubt changed significantly over his career, fans might have noticed him in episodes of "Jane the Virgin," "Veep," and "Young Sheldon." Viewers may also remember him from "Call me Kat" or the standout "Atlanta" episode "Three Slaps," which revolves entirely around his character's experiences in a foster home. He also featured in a six-episode arc on "Chicago Med" in the 2020 to 2021 season as Auggie. 

Farrar clearly has the drive and talent for a fruitful career in the years to come. We'll be looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table in "Kindred" and beyond.