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Why the cast of Carnival Row looks so familiar

Thanks to the advent of streaming services, there's more TV out there than ever, and it can be intimidating to settle on just one show to binge when there are so many options available. However, if you're a fantasy fan, Amazon's newest offering, Carnival Row, may be right up your alley.

Created by showrunner René Echevarria (who previously created The 4400 and worked on shows like Castle and Star Trek: The Next Generation) and screenwriter Travis Beacham (who wrote the original script as a film before turning it into a TV show), the series tells the story of supernatural beings who have fled their realm and now must live alongside humans despite overwhelming tension. If that doesn't sound appealing enough, the cast is pretty star-studded, so you're sure to recognize a few familiar faces. From blockbuster names to prestige favorites, here who's who in the cast of Amazon's Carnival Row.

Orlando Bloom is the biggest star in Carnival Row

One of the biggest stars attached to Carnival Row is Orlando Bloom, who plays the role of Rycroft Philostrate, known simply as "Philo." Philo is caught between two worlds as a half-blood product of a mythical creature and a human, and because he's sympathetic to the supernatural, he's looked down upon by humans, despite his important role as an inspector of the Burgue Constabulary (a police department that keeps the peace). However, he also must struggle with his role as a war veteran, constantly processing his own trauma.

Bloom is one of the most recognizable faces of Carnival Row thanks to his roles in blockbusters like the Lord of the Rings franchise, in which he played the immortal elf Legolas, as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean series, where he starred as the everyman turned pirate Will Turner. Born in Canterbury, England, Bloom doesn't just play in tentpole fare, as he's starred in more than a few indies, such as Elizabethtown and New York, I Love You. However, he's also returned to his franchise roots in recent years, reprising his role as the elf with impeccable aim in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit series. 

Cara Delevingne is billed second in this Amazon series

The second biggest name in Carnival Row is Cara Delevingne, who portrays Vignette Stonemoss in the series. As one of the supernatural characters — specifically, a fae — Vignette is Philo's lover, but she believes that he's dead for quite some time. After they meet again, she takes up with a rough crowd, as she's angry with him for abandoning her, and all the while, she's still grappling with her feelings. 

Beyond Carnival Row, you've probably seen Delevingne in everything from young adult adaptations to DC blockbusters. Delevingne has worked as a model since 2011, walking runways for major houses like Burberry and Chanel, but she's also built a solid film career over the past couple of years. In 2012, Delevingne made her film debut in the Keira Knightley-led adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, but her breakout role was undoubtedly in 2015's Paper Towns, adapted from John Green's novel of the same name. She followed that up with a supporting role as a mermaid in Pan and a featured role as the villainous Enchantress in the 2016 DC film Suicide Squad, eventually cementing herself with a leading role in Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Simon McBurney has been in every British movie ever made

Within the universe of Carnival Row, some humans do fraternize with mythical creatures, and one of those humans happens to be Simon McBurney's character Runyan Millworthy, a man who works as a street performer and runs a troupe of kobolds (a kind of sprite based within German folklore).

As a human sympathetic to the supernatural cause, McBurney might be an outcast in the world of Carnival Row, but he's certainly not an outlier in the acting world. Born in Cambridge, England, this established actor has appeared as a supporting player in an enormous number of films. Beyond his stage work as a director and founder for the UK-based company Complicité, he can be spotted in films like The Last King of Scotland, Body of Lies, The Duchess, The Theory of Everything, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He also provided the voice of Kreacher the house elf in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, and he can be seen in the Showtime series The Borgias, as well as in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and The Conjuring 2

Tamzin Merchant lost one fantasy role, only to find another

As one of the highborn members of Carnival Row, Imogen Spurnrose finds herself down on her luck, forced to survive and maintain her lifestyle by relying on a fairy. However, the actress who plays her has found much more success in real life.

Tamzin Merchant appeared in Showtime's The Tudors from 2009 to 2013 as Anne of Cleves, playing Henry VIII's fourth failed wife, and she took a role as Anne Hale on the WGN series Salem. She also appeared in director Joe Wright's modern reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice in 2005, playing Georgiana Darcy, the younger sister of the prickly Mr. Darcy.

But despite her successful career, Merchant's most famous role ended up going to someone else. Although she starred in a pilot for an HBO series, the role was eventually recast, and a little series called Game of Thrones went ahead without her as Daenerys Targaryen. (The part was played throughout the show by Emilia Clarke, mostly because Merchant only appeared in the reportedly disastrous original pilot). 

Jared Harris commands the screen in Carnival Row

Every fictional universe needs a strong leader, and Jared Harris' Absalom Breakspear is just that figure for Carnival Row. As the leader of the Republic of the Brugue, Breakspear must cut an intimidating figure, and luckily, Harris is just the man for the job.

If you've ever watched any prestige television, you've definitely seen Harris before. One of his biggest roles to date was Lane Pryce on AMC's legendary series Mad Men, where the British ad man contributes his name to a new firm in later seasons before something truly horrible happens. After his time at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, he appeared in Netflix's acclaimed original series The Crown as King George VI, as well as taking a role in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln as Ulysses S. Grant. He also appeared in shows like Fringe and The Riches, and he's signed onto the Spider-Man spinoff Morbius, alongside Jared Leto. However, his most recent part also attracted plenty of attention. In 2018, he played a central role as Valery Legasov in HBO's acclaimed miniseries, Chernobyl.

Jamie Harris has a familiar face

In addition to being one of the most fantastical series currently streaming on Amazon, Carnival Row is also a family affair for some of its castmates. Alongside his brother Jared Harris (the two actors are the sons of the late Richard Harris, who appeared as Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films before his passing), Jamie Harris plays an integral part in the cast as Sergeant Dombey, a vindictive constable who holds extremely prejudiced views against fairies, as well as any other mythical creatures.

The younger Harris brother doesn't have quite as many prestige projects under his belt as Jared, but he's worked steadily in television and film for years. Recently, you may have seen him as the mysterious Hook-Handed Man in the Netflix original A Series of Unfortunate Events, as Gordon in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and up on the big screen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes as Rodney, a caretaker who shows kindness to imprisoned apes.

Indira Varma went from Westeros to the Burgue

Carnival Row is characterized by plenty of backstabbing, intrigue, and manipulation, and many of those qualities are perfectly encapsulated in Piety Breakspear. Played by Indira Varma, Piety is the conniving wife of Absalom (Jared Harris), and she'll stop at nothing to make sure that the Breakspear legacy remains secure. 

Most recently, Varma got attention for her high-profile turn in Game of Thrones as Ellaria Sand, the murderous, vengeful, high-ranking Dornish bastard who mothered the Sand Snakes (three young female warriors). Unfortunately, like many of the other characters on Thrones, Ellaria met a sticky end before the series concluded after eight seasons. However, the role was an excellent bit of exposure for Varma, and she's performed in plenty of other projects before and after her stint in Westeros. Varma has appeared in Rome (another HBO series), the first season of Luther alongside Idris Elba, and as one of the leads of Netflix's original series Paranoid, which debuted on the streaming service in 2016. Plus, she followed that up with a starring role in Patrick Melrose, a Showtime miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Andrew Gower has appeared on several high-profile TV shows

As one of Carnival Row's resident lowlifes, Andrew Gower brings a particular panache to his role as Ezra Spurnrose. Imogen's (Tamzin Merchant) deadbeat brother, Ezra suffers from alcoholism, and as such, his sister blames him for their family's poor finances and low status in life.

Gower has made a name for himself on British television and in the UK's theater scene, playing a wide range of roles. He's mostly been working on BBC projects like Being Human, taking a regular role on the popular series during its fourth season, and The Village (a drama unrelated to the M. Night Shyamalan film). He also appeared in the BBC and Netflix collaboration Black Mirror, a dystopian series that chronicles the potential dangers of technology, in a particularly dark fourth season episode called "Crocodile." However, he's likely best known by international audiences for his splashy role in Starz' Outlander, the steamy Scottish time travel romance based on the book series of the same name, as Prince Charles Stuart.

Karla Crome is a rising star who lights up Carnival Row

As Tourmaline Larou, fledgling actress Karla Crome brings wisdom beyond her years to this role as a fae who wants to pursue her dream of becoming a poet but must work as a prostitute to support herself. Close with Vignette (Delevingne), Tourmaline's full journey is yet to come, but it's easy to identify with a young girl who must suffer to achieve her goals.

Crome herself is relatively new to the scene, but nevertheless, she's fairly well known in British television circles. In 2012, she appeared on the popular E4 science fiction series Misfits as Jess, a teenager with X-ray vision, which laid the tracks for a successful career. In 2014, she made the jump to American television on CBS' Under the Dome, adapted from one of Stephen King's many novels, where she played a high school teacher curious about the dome. Though her list of credits is still relatively small, Crome is a star on the rise, so keep an eye out for her beyond Carnival Row. You might see her in another project as her career keeps forging along.

David Gyasi has shown up in some really serious movies

Popularized most notably by William Shakespeare in his classic comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, a "puck" is a term used to describe an impish, mischievous type of fairy, and unsurprisingly, there's a puck at the heart of Carnival Row. David Gyasi plays Agreus Astrayon, a well-to-do puck who finds himself ostracized from the high society in which he seeks to belong, thanks to his supernatural origins.

Gyasi doesn't have an overwhelming number of credits to his name, but when he does appear on screen, it's usually in pretty high-profile projects. After playing an unnamed character in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, he appeared in Cloud Atlas as Autua, Lester Rey, and Duophysite that same year. And he followed that up with a role as Romilly in Nolan's Interstellar in 2014. He was also a part of Alex Garland's acclaimed science fiction drama, Annihilation, and he will appear in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil alongside Angelina Jolie in 2019.

Mark Lewis Jones is a familiar name from all sorts of projects

Somebody has to be in charge of the riffraff and fae that populate the titular row, and that job falls largely to Magistrate Flute, the head constable in the Burgue. Played by Mark Lewis Jones, Flute is constantly trying to keep the peace in his precinct, and he constantly finds himself at odds with Philo (Bloom) over his allegiance to the local fae.

As far as the Welsh-born Jones is concerned, his career has spanned decades, leading to roles in some huge films over the years. Though most of his credits lie in British television series — including another police-related role in 55 Degrees North where he played the leading part of Detective Inspector Russell Bing — he's also appeared in international blockbusters like Troy and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Though he auditioned for a different part in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he ended up booking a role in the opening of its sequel, The Last Jedi, as Captain Canady of the First Order. Plus, he was involved in one of most uncomfortable movie scenes of all time with Apostle.

Alice Krige has been involved in sci-fi and fantasy for some time

Carnival Row is filled with high society figures, and as such, there's a person trapped in servitude for every socialite you see on screen. One of those characters is Aoife Tsigani, played by Alice Krige, who's a witch — specifically, a type of witch known as a haruspex who practices divination using animal remains — that serves Piety Breakspear (Indira Varma).

Krige is no stranger to science fiction and fantasy stories. An actress who's been working for decades, she's played the Borg Queen in the Star Trek franchise (her first appearance was in 1996's Star Trek: First Contact). She's also appeared in plenty of American television, including roles on The 4400, The OA, Six Feet Under, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, among others. Plus, she's showed up in international blockbusters like Thor: The Dark World. However, if you're a film buff, you might know her best from her defining roles during the 1980s. In 1981, she played pivotal roles in both Ghost Story and Chariots of Fire.