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Why the cast of Doctor Sleep looks so familiar

Stephen King's The Shining is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror novels ever written, and Stanley Kubrick's adaptation is often hailed as one of the best fright flicks ever made. And in 2013, King returned to the eerie world of the Overlook Hotel with Doctor Sleep, a Shining sequel that got its own movie in 2019.

If you're unfamiliar with Doctor Sleep, here's a brief summary. The now-adult Daniel Torrance still coping with the horrors he experienced at the Overlook. He's tried to suppress his "Shine," but one day, a group called the True Knot comes calling. The members of the True Knot torture and murder people with the Shine in order to live forever. Soon, Daniel and a young girl who possesses the Shine have to fight for their lives against this horrible cult.

Like many of King's works, Doctor Sleep deals with how trauma sticks with us throughout our lives and the different ways we deal with it. And Mike Flanagan's adaptation features a strong cast of recognizable actors — both major stars and supporting players we've definitely seen before. So today, things are going to get eerie as we figure out why the cast of Doctor Sleep looks so familiar.

Rebecca Ferguson is the big bad guy of Doctor Sleep

The leader of the True Knot cult goes by the moniker "Rose the Hat," and this woman is a formidable antagonist for Danny Torrance. In the film, Rose is played by Rebecca Ferguson, who started acting in a Swedish soap opera called Nya tider, but she's had plenty of stateside success over the last decade.

The Swedish actress is probably best known for playing Ilsa Faust in the newer Mission: Impossible films. She's also no stranger to horror roles, as she appeared in Life as Miranda North and The Snowman as Katrine Bratt. On top of all that, Ferguson has appeared in movies ranging from The Greatest Showman and The Kid Who Would Be King to Men in Black: International and Florence Foster Jenkins. In other words, Ferguson is an in-demand actress — talented, formidable, and the perfect pick for such a terrifying Stephen King character.

Cliff Curtis looks familiar because he's been in everything

One of Danny's allies against the True Knot is Billy Freeman, a man who helps our hero cope with his alcoholism and fight against his inner demons. He takes on a similar role to Dick Hallorann from The Shining, serving as an older mentor striving to help Danny with his trauma. And that eventually turns into actually helping Danny fight against the True Knot and their leader, Rose the Hat.

In Doctor Sleep, veteran actor Cliff Curtis portrays Billy Freeman. Curtis got his big break in 1999's Three Kings, where he played Amir Abdulah. Since then, he's appeared in several movies and shows, where he's played roles like Pablo Escobar in Blow, Smiley in Training Day, Travis in Fear the Walking Dead, and Jonah in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbes & Shaw. He's also set to appear in the next four Avatar films, which the world clearly needs, and James Cameron is happy to deliver.

Zahn McClarnon is a powerful presence

One of the most frightening members of the True Knot is named Crow Daddy. He's Rose the Hat's lover and a sadistic, terrifying individual. Doctor Sleep features an inspired bit of casting for Crow Daddy, as he's played by Zahn McClarnon, a man who lends quite a bit of gravitas to every role he takes.

McClarnon has been acting professionally for over 30 years, appearing in several television shows in the '90s, as well as providing voicework for several animated films, like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Over the years, he's started appearing in larger roles, playing characters like Hanzee in the Fargo television series and the Professor in Bone Tomahawk.

Probably his most recognizable role is that of Akecheta, the leader of the Ghost Nation tribe on HBO's Westworld. The second season of Westworld was a bit up and down, but the eighth episode, "Kiksuya," which focused entirely on McClarnon's character, is regarded as one of the best episodes the show has released.

Bruce Greenwood always plays authority figures

One of Danny's allies and close friends in Doctor Sleep, Dr. John knows more about Danny than pretty much anyone. He's aware that Danny possesses an extraordinary ability, and he also knows that Danny isn't the only one with the Shine. In the film, Dr. John is played by Bruce Greenwood, and Greenwood is no stranger to playing roles that require a commanding on-screen presence.

Greenwood has played roles like John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days, the president of the United States in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and Pike in the more recent Star Trek films. He's also no stranger to Stephen King adaptations, as he played the title character in Gerald's Game. Greenwood often appears as characters in positions of authority, like politicians or military men, since he has the look and voice required to portray a powerful calm.

Speaking of voices, you may also recognize Greenwood's, as he's an extremely successful voice actor. He voiced Overlord in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and has played Batman/Bruce Wayne in several DC cartoons, including Batman: Under the Red Hood, Young Justice, and Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.

Emily Alyn Lind is a vicious psychic in Doctor Sleep

Some of the True Knot have gained psychic powers through their exposure to the Shine, and Snakebite Andi is one of the most vicious and formidable psychics imaginable. Andi has the power to make people fall into a deep sleep with just a verbal suggestion. She faced some severe trauma of her own as a child, and she takes out her anger on those captured by the True Knot.

Snakebite Andi is played by Emily Alyn Lind in Doctor Sleep, and acting is in her blood. Her mother is Barbara Alyn Woods (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, One Tree Hill) so Lind got started acting at a very young age. She appeared as Shirley Temple in J. Edgar and in several television series before the age of ten. More recently, Lind appeared as Sophie Foster in Replicas, Ariel on the CBS series Code Black, and Amanda Clarke on the ABC series Revenge

Carel Struycken has the most familiar face in Hollywood

Another member of the True Knot, Grampa Flick kicks off the events of Doctor Sleep in a lot of ways. Since the group strives to be immortal by stealing the Shine from children, watching a member of their cult grow older frightens and infuriates the other members of the group. And you've surely seen the man who plays Grampa Flick in something, as Duct actor Carel Struycken has a unique facial structure that's seen him cast in many memorable roles.

Struycken has played monsters and odd characters in many things, including the Giant in Twin Peaks, Mr. Homn on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Moonlight Man in Gerald's Game, and the bald Arquillian from Men in Black. Easily his most memorable role, however, was as Lurch in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. Despite his very quiet role in the bizarre family, Struycken displayed some pretty impressive acting skills with his various looks and reactions to what was happening around him. But no matter the show, the seven-foot-tall Dutchman always makes an impression when he strides onto the screen.

Jocelin Donahue plays a key character in Doctor Sleep

Without getting too heavy into spoiler territory, the character of Lucy plays a small but pretty important role in Doctor Sleep. As such, the filmmakers needed to cast a confident actress to take on the part, and they found one in Jocelin Donahue.

Donahue has made a pretty good name for herself by taking on roles that seem thankless on paper and making them memorable. Her horror credentials are certainly there. She played the young version of Barbara Hershey's character, Lorraine, in Insidious: Chapter 2, and she won the Best Actress award at LA Screamfest in 2009 for the lead role in the indie darling The House of the Devil.

Donahue has appeared in many challenging roles for movies on the festival circuit, and she also had a central role in the web series StartUp, alongside heavy hitters like Martin Freeman, Adam Brody, and Ron Perlman. 

Catherine Parker knows how to be scary

Silent Sarey is perhaps the most frightening member of the True Knot due to her impressive psychic gift. Sarey can essentially make people not realize she's there. As long as they don't see her moving, she's basically invisible. This makes her perfect for kidnapping and scouting. Sarey gets her nickname due to a speech impediment. She rarely talks because she's embarrassed by it.

Silent Sarey is portrayed by Catherine Parker, who certainly possesses the right combination of charisma and threat to play the character. Early in her career, Parker found a good deal of acclaim in the role of Callie in Absentia, which led to memorable roles on shows like Halt and Catch Fire and Masters of Sex. Recently, horror fans saw her as Poppy Hill, the creepy flapper woman on Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House. Go back and watch the episode "Screaming Meemies" if you want to see the kind of intensity that Parker can bring to a role.

Chelsea Talmadge looks familiar thanks a certain famous Netflix show

In Stephen King's novel, the character of Deenie plays a big part in getting Danny moving to the town where much of Doctor Sleep's action takes place. It's a small but important role, but Chelsea Talmadge is the perfect actress to cast in such a pivotal role. 

The other projects that Talmadge is known for generally gave her small scenes to play with, and she managed to make them memorable. Talmadge appeared on the series Halt and Catch Fire, playing Vera in six episodes of the show. She also had a recurring role on the Billy Ray Cyrus sitcom (yes, that Billy Ray Cyrus) Still the King as Mabel.

The role you're most likely to recognize her from is Stranger Things. She played Carol, one of the students who attends the pool party where Barb disappears, and she later cheers on her boyfriend, Tommy, and Steve Harrington when they break Jonathan Byers' camera.

Robert Longstreet has a super impressive resume

Ah, Barry, the character in Stephen King's novel with an unfortunately racist nickname, courtesy of his slanted eyes. Barry is a member of the True Knot, and he's a reminder to the group of why it's so important that they continue to feed off the Shine of others. He's played in Doctor Sleep by Robert Longstreet, who film fans have assuredly seen in something over the years.

Longstreet has been in around 80 roles in his many years as an actor, but he's only started to garner mainstream attention recently. He played Anderson in Boots Riley's bizarre satire Sorry to Bother You, and he played Professor James in Aquaman. The man also has credits like Take Shelter, The Old Man and the Gun, and Mohawk. Plus, horror hounds will recognize him as Mr. Dudley from Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House, the kindly caretaker harboring a terrifying secret. And we should probably mention that Hill House was directed by Mike Flanagan, the same guy behind Doctor Sleep.

Carl Lumbly plays a classic Shining character

If you're only familiar with the movie version of The Shining, then you might be surprised to see Dick Hallorann as a character in Doctor Sleep. In the movie, Hallorann doesn't survive his experience at the Overlook Hotel. However, he does in the book, and Hallorann still has a role to play in Danny's life when the sequel rolls around. 

Carl Lumbly has been cast in the role that Scatman Crothers played in the original Kubrick film. Lumbly has had a huge variety of roles over his career, including several voice acting performances in cartoons and video games. He's voiced Martian Manhunter in several DC properties, and he's also voiced a variety of characters in Blizzard games like Heroes of the Storm and Diablo 3.

As far as roles where he's actually shown up on camera, Lumbly is probably best known for playing Marcus Dixon on the show Alias. He played Mac Brashear in the film Men of Honor, and he also features in a recurring role as M'yrnn J'onzz on the Supergirl series.

Selena Anduze has popped up in several famous projects

Another member of the True Knot, Apron Annie has a very small role in Doctor Sleep. That said, you'll probably be snapping your fingers and wracking your brain when you see the actress who plays her, Selena Anduze, up on the screen. But hey, don't irritate the other theater-goers. You've definitely seen her in at least one thing, and it's a place you've seen several of the other actors in Doctor Sleep.

Selena Anduze was in Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House. She only appeared in one episode, "The Twin Thing," as a worker at the rehab facility. In fact, Anduze seems to almost exclusively play doctors and detectives. She has that air about her, apparently. You may also have seen Anduze in small roles in movies like Venom (as "bistro manager") or A Madea Family Funeral (as, surprise, the doctor). 

Andruze was supposed to have a fairly meaty role in the DC series Swamp Thing as Caroline Woodrue, but that show's swift cancellation put the kibosh on that role.

Alex Essoe is no stranger to the horror genre

Doctor Sleep would hardly be the story of Danny's coping with his childhood trauma if his mother wasn't a part of things. In The Shining, Shelley Duvall played Wendy Torrance with wide-eyed panic, and Alex Essoe is taking on the role in Doctor Sleep.

Essoe originally hails from Saudi Arabia, and she's only been acting professionally since 2008. She hasn't really had a big, breakout role at this point, but hopefully Doctor Sleep will put her on the path to bigger and better things. What Essoe does have is a lot of horror experience. She's appeared in indie horror films like Starry Eyes, The Neighbour, Dark Intentions, and Midnighters. She also appeared in The Drone, which is about a drone that gains sentience and goes on a killing spree.

Basically, no one is going to think it's odd if you decide to watch The Drone tonight now that you've heard of it.

Jacob Tremblay is playing in an unknown role

The True Knot in Doctor Sleep mostly preys on children, so there are several roles that Jacob Tremblay could be taking on. Considering Tremblay's impressive resume and prior experience working with director Mike Flanagan, it seems likely he's taking on a substantial role in the film. Our money is on him playing young Danny Torrance.

Regardless of what role Tremblay plays, we know he's in the film, and you've probably seen something else he's been in. He's actually done quite a bit of voice work, but one of his biggest (and earliest) roles was alongside Brie Larson in the critically acclaimed film Room. Considering his impressive performance in Room, it's hard to imagine Tremblay would play just some random kid in Doctor Sleep.

Tremblay has some other impressive credits, as well. He voiced the title character on Pete the Cat, he was Cody in Before I Wake (his prior collaboration with Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan), and he played Rory McKenna in The Predator. Tremblay was born in 2006, so if his career path continues, the sky's the limit for the young talent.

Ewan McGregor is Danny Torrance, the hero of Doctor Sleep

Chances are good that you don't need a reminder about Ewan McGregor, the actor who plays the grown-up Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep. Of all the actors in the film, he's about the only household name. That said, it didn't feel right putting together a list about Doctor Sleep's actors and not including the Scottish actor. If you somehow aren't able to put a film to his face, though, here's what you've seen him in.

McGregor showed promise early on, stealing the show in two impressive indie films: Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. It was his casting as young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels that shot McGregor to superstardom, however. No matter what, he's always showcased an impressive range. He played Ed Bloom in Big Fish, Phillip Morris in I Love You Phillip Morris, Christian in Moulin Rouge, and the title character in Christopher Robin. In other words, the dude is incredibly talented and an impressive anchor for the cast of Doctor Sleep.