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Why Beocca From The Last Kingdom Looks So Familiar

Uhtred of Bebbanburg is back in action in season 4 of Netflix's The Last Kingdom, finally released to streaming April 26, 2020. The fresh set of ten episodes includes all the medieval scheming and Viking carnage fans have come to expect from the historical series, as well as the return of more than a few familiar faces.

The Last Kingdom is adapted from British author Bernard Cornwell's epic series of historical novels chronicling the formation of a unified Kingdom of England around the turn of the 10th century. The project was originally a joint endeavor between Netflix and the BBC, but the streamer took over sole responsibility for the series after the conclusion of season 2.

Cornwell's novels begin under the reign of King Alfred, the only English monarch to earn the cognomen "The Great," and continue through the lives of his descendants, Edward and Æthelstan (the first historical King of England). Although the streaming series has taken increasing liberties with its source material, most of The Last Kingdom's most memorable characters are ripped straight from the pages of Cornwell's books. One such entity is the spirited Northumbrian priest, Father Beocca, one of Uhtred's oldest friends and mentors, and the man with the unenviable task of saving the young lordling's heathen soul. Beocca is one of the first characters introduced in both the books and the TV series. Though he died off-screen in Cornwell's novels, the writers of The Last Kingdom have granted him a stay of execution and an embellished role to continue playing into the plot.

The actor charged with portraying this displaced Christian is none other than Liverpudlian thespian Ian Hart, and if he looks familiar, it's probably because he's been in everything.

Ian Hart has his own acting niche playing Beatles frontman John Lennon

The 56-year-old Hart was born in Liverpool, England and began acting in school plays at an early age. He kicked off his professional career on TV and the stage, appearing in important British miniseries such as The Monocled Mutineer, The Marksman, and Chain, and on three episodes of The Practice in the role of William Griffin. Hart continued landing guest spots on a wide array of shows for most of the late '80s, but his real break came in 1994, when he was cast to play John Lennon opposite Gary Bakewell's Paul McCartney in Iain Softley's iconic Backbeat. Little did Hart realize at the time, but he was already destined to reprise the role of Lennon on two more occasions (via IMDb).

The first came a few months after Backbeat, when Hart returned to play the Beatle in the video short Backbeat Band: Money, Version 2. After that, he wouldn't return to the role for another 20 years, at which point he was once again cast to appear as Lennon in the 2013 television play Snodgrass, featured during the second season of Playhouse Presents

When he wasn't busy playing Lennon, Hart spent the intervening years accruing an obscene amount of film credits. He played the part of Steve in Clockwork Mice, Daniel Defoe in the 1997 Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Alo in The Butcher Boy, Bingham in Enemy of the State, Dan in Wonderland, Mr. Parkis in The End of the Affair starring Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore, Clive in Aberdeen, and many, many more.

Ian Hart was Hogwarts' first Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher

Out of all of Hart's film credits over the past three decades, perhaps his most memorable was his turn in Christopher Columbus' 2001 adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the massively successful YA book by author J.K. Rowling. That film launched a multi-billion dollar cinematic franchise that would ultimately span eight different entries.

In the debut Potter film, Hart played Professor Quirrell, the squirrelly Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor who picked up a very unfortunate souvenir on his summer vacation to the Albanian jungle. In the film's climactic twist, Quirrell reveals himself to be the true villain of the story. He has spent the year at Hogwarts serving as a host body for the spirit of the evil wizard Voldemort, and intends to steal the sorcerer's stone from Harry to help revive his master.

Sadly, Hart did not have cause to return to Hogwarts for any of the following films, since Quirrell's plot is ultimately foiled and the wizard, himself, is destroyed in the process.

Ian Hart landed starring roles and guest spots on several television series

Later in Hart's career, he began making more TV appearances, a choice that likely set him up to eventually land a featured role on The Last Kingdom. In 2007, he was cast in the role of Don Konkey on the FX series Dirt, which starred Friends alum Courtney Cox. Dirt only lasted for two seasons, but Hart appeared on all 20 episodes of the short-lived paparazzi show. After Dirt, Hart went on to play Tony Conroy on the miniseries Father & Son.

From 2011-2012, he played Lonnie on the ill-fated HBO series Luck, which didn't last very long despite starring Hollywood icon Dustin Hoffman and springing forth from the mind of vaunted creator David Milch. After Luck petered out, Hart stuck around HBO to do a four-episode arc as Ethan Thompson on the prohibition drama Boardwalk Empire. At this point in his career, Hart was keeping busy with a recurring role on FX's The Bridge and a part on the TV miniseries The Driver, so he wasn't exactly hurting for work.

Just one year after his brief stint on Boardwalk Empire, Hart was cast in the role of Father Beocca on The Last Kingdom, a part he's stuck with for the last five years. It might be his most visible turn since Professor Quirrell but, if history is any guide, it certainly won't be his last.