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What The Cast Of Hugo Is Doing Today

With Hugo, Martin Scorsese, who spent his career directing extremely adult movies like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon, made his first movie for kids. It's an unusual move for him, but no more so than his forays into period romance (The Age of Innocence), women's drama (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore), biblical epic (The Last Temptation of Christ), psychological thriller (Shutter Island), or horror (Cape Fear). Besides, it's exactly the kind of movie he grew up on.

In the '50s and '60s, when superheroes were strictly B-movie fare, the big ticket in Hollywood was historical epics with all-star casts, many of them, like Hugo, in 3D. These were the kinds of movies where John Wayne could show up for one line as a Roman soldier. Hugo brings the epic spectacle in its gorgeous recreation of Paris in the '30s. And it brings the all-star cast, too, with some of the greatest character actors and leading men from both sides of the Atlantic, some participating in the central story of an orphan boy and a bitter old toyseller with a mysterious past and others acting out their own little stories in the margins, their star power suggesting whole other movies existing in the backdrop of this one. Some need no introduction. Others are worth taking the time to discover. Here's a guide to get you started.

Asa Butterfield made us all feel his pain as Hugo

Asa Butterfield gives one of the greatest child performances, or maybe performances of any kind, of the past decade as Hugo's title character, embodying the pain of the orphaned hero living in the clocks of a Paris train station so powerfully that you can't help feeling it yourself. So it's not surprising he's been grabbing audiences' attention ever since he was seven, when he began acting at Young Actors Theatre Islington. His early performances in the indie hit Son of Rambow and the TV dramas Ashes to Ashes and After Thomas got him his first lead role in the Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. That, in turn, led him to Hugo and from there to an even higher-profile role starring in the 2013 adaptation of the landmark sci-fi novel Ender's Game. As he transitioned to teenhood, Butterfield got the chance to work with another master director in Tim Burton's adaptation of the Ransom Riggs bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and starred in the sci-fi romance The Space Between Us.

The transition from child star to adult star is always difficult, but Butterfield continues to build his body of work. The streaming juggernaut Netflix gave him his own series with Sex Education in 2019, and as of this writing, a new season is on the way. Butterfield also took a recent gig with a less successful streaming service when he appeared in three episodes of the horror anthology 50 States of Fright on the ill-fated Quibi.

Ben Kingsley carried years of secrets as Papa Georges

Hugo spends every minute he can spare trying to repair the clockwork man left behind by his dead father, which has a mysterious connection to Georges, the cranky old man who runs the station toy shop. As the movie continues, we learn the secrets of his long and exciting life, and the man who plays him, Ben Kingsley, has at least as much history behind him. Born Krishna Bhanji to a British model and a doctor of Indian descent, Ben Kingsley began acting in college and appeared in many Shakespeare productions on London's legendary West End. 

He found the role that made him a superstar in 1982, when he played the Oscar-winning lead in Richard Attenborough's epic adaptation of the life of Mahatma Gandhi. From there, he appeared in a wide variety of roles, from a superspy frog in Freddie as F.R.0.7 to a psychotic gangster in Sexy Beast, from a ridiculous performance as a hammy vampire in Bloodrayne to a sublime performance in Steven Spielberg's Holocaust-set masterpiece Schindler's List. Kingsley continued earning Oscar nominations for Sexy Beast, Bugsy, and The House of Sand and Fog. Shutter Island teamed him up with Scorsese before they collaborated again on Hugo, and he faced off against Asa Butterfield again in Ender's Game. Kingsley has continued to make memorable appearances, including as the animated villain of The Boxtrolls, the voice of Bagheera in The Jungle Book, and his controversial but unforgettable role as the Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

Chloë Grace Moretz played the adventurous Isabelle

Hugo begins to unlock the secrets of Georges' past and his surprising connection to the clockwork man with the help of his adventurous, adventure story-obsessed goddaughter Isabelle. By the time she stepped into the role, Chloë Grace Moretz was already a star. She started acting young with supporting parts in (500) Days of Summer and Desperate Housewives and a starring voice role in My Friends Tigger and Pooh. But her role as the tiny but deadly super-antihero Hit Girl in Kick-Ass stole the show from a cast that included Nicolas Cage

That's no small feat, so it shouldn't be surprising that it got Moretz some serious attention. Later that year, she starred in a remake of the cult classic Swedish horror Let the Right One In and began her memorable stint on 30 Rock the following year, doing for cutthroat business what Hit-Girl did for literal throat-cutting. She starred in a remake of another horror classic with Carrie and teamed up with Tim Burton for Dark Shadows. Instead of chasing hits, Moretz has shown a sharp eye for small but artistically accomplished films like Suspiria, The Clouds of Sils Maria, and her acclaimed star turn in The Miseducation of Cameron Post in between mainstream fare like The Addams Family and Neighbors 2. As of this writing, Moretz fans can look forward to her taking the lead in the latest incarnation of Tom and Jerry.

Sacha Baron Cohen brought the laughs as the Station Inspector

Life's not easy for an orphan, and Hugo has to spend his days running from the Station Inspector, who wants to send him away to the orphanage. Fortunately, the Inspector's more prone to pratfalls than successful captures, thanks to the comic genius of Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen became a star on the strength of Da Ali G Show, where he'd pose as wannabe gangsta Ali G, Kazakh reporter Borat, and other characters for interviews with unsuspecting subjects. A movie spinoff flopped when Cohen tried to adapt Ali G into a more conventional comedy formula. He didn't make the same mistake twice, and when he took the prank interview format to the big screen with Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, he created an inescapable pop culture phenomenon. 

In between, he became Hollywood's favorite quirky character actor, with roles including the Lemur King Julian in Madagascar, Signor Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, and Monsieur Thernadier in Les Misérables. His star vehicles built on the Borat formula to diminishing returns through the increasingly gross and low-grossing movies Brüno, The Dictator, and The Brothers Grimsby until Borat himself made a triumphant return in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, which may have been even more influential than the original by apparently revealing presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a sexual predator.

Helen McCrory was the mother we all wish we had as Mama Jeanne

While Papa Georges fights to keep Hugo and Isabelle from discovering the secrets of his past, his wife Jeanne kindly, but just as firmly, tries to keep them from learning the truth. She's played by Helen McCrory, who began her acting career on the British stage in productions of classic plays by great authors like Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov. She began her film career with a minor role in a major hit, as an unnamed background character in Interview with the Vampire opposite Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. She landed one of her biggest roles in 2006 as former Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie in the Oscar-winning The Queen, a role she returned to alongside her Queen co-star Michael Sheen in screenwriter Peter Morgan's 2010 semi-sequel The Special Relationship. 

McCrory narrowly missed a superstar role in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where she signed on to play the deadly Voldemort acolyte Bellatrix Lestrange before she dropped out due to pregnancy. The role went to Helena Bonham Carter. She still made her way into the franchise years later as Bellatrix's sister Narcissa in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In 2013, she began playing her most iconic role as Polly Gray in the British gangster drama Peaky Blinders, which we've recently learned will return after a pandemic-induced hiatus with a sixth season and a movie.

Michael Stuhlbarg played the ultimate film fan as René Tabard

Hugo and Isabelle eventually learn that Georges was once a major celebrity who's avoided anything that reminds him of his traumatic downfall and whom most of the world believes is dead. That includes scholar René Tabard, who Hugo and Isabelle meet while reading his book to learn more about Georges. 

One of the few Americans in the cast, Michael Stuhlbarg adds René to his lengthy and varied list of supporting roles. After many years onstage in plays including George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, the musical classic Cabaret, and the title role in Shakespeare's Richard III, Stuhlbarg made his film debut in 1998 with A Price Beyond Rubies. Since then, he's been one of Hollywood's most dependable supporting players, with some of his most memorable roles including one of the decisive votes to end slavery in Lincoln, a psychic alien in Men in Black 3, one of Dr. Strange's hospital coworkers, the editor in The Post, an undercover Soviet agent in The Shape of Water, and Timothee Chalamet's father in Call Me By Your Name. But Stuhlbarg's masterwork put him in the lead role in the Coen Brothers' brilliant dark comedy A Serious Man, where he plays a suburban Jewish father desperately searching for the reason behind the endless series of disasters he has to endure.

Christopher Lee gave gravitas to Monsieur Labisse

As Hugo uncovers the mystery of Georges' past, other characters living out other stories move in and out of the background. While they only appear briefly, the skill of Hugo's all-star cast give each of these bit parts enough weight that we never doubt they have full lives offscreen. And no cast member comes with as much weight of history as Christopher Lee, who plays Monsieur Labisse, the owner of the station bookstore. 

Lee made a career playing characters who were as far as you could get from this kindly old man at Hammer Studios, where he redefined all the classic monsters, from Dracula to Frankenstein to the Mummy to Mr. Hyde. He even got to join the illustrious ranks of Bond villains in The Man with the Golden Gun. But his most beloved role from this period took him to Hammer's rivals at British Lion Studios, where he played the aristocratic villain of the cult classic The Wicker Man.

As the kids who grew up on Hammer horror (including Scorsese) came of age and started making their own films, they couldn't wait to cast Lee, turning him from a disreputable B-actor to an elder statesman. This got him major roles in the two biggest franchises of the new millennium as Saruman the White Wizard in Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku in Star Wars. Hammer superfan Tim Burton cast Lee in nearly every movie he made between Sleepy Hollow in 1999 and Lee's death in 2015.

Frances De La Tour gave us background color as Madame Emile

Also livening up the background, we have the golden-years romance between Monsieur Frick and Madame Emile, constantly interrupted by her yappy dog. Frances de la Tour brings decades of experience to the role of Madame Emilie, beginning when she joined the legendary Royal Shakespeare Company in the '60s. 

Since then, she's continued to focus on the stage, but viewers may still recognize her as Madame Hildgarde on Outlander, Alice's Aunt Imogene in Disney's Alice in Wonderland movies, or Madame Olympe, the literally giant headmistress of Beauxbatons School in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She apparently enjoyed the role, since she played another giant in Into the Woods. But she found her career-defining role much earlier as the co-star of the British sitcom Rising Damp in the '70s. De la Tour recently appeared as the Dowager in Enola Holmes and the Dragon in Dolittle, and she'll be returning to the screen in 2021 as Queen Elizabeth II in HBO Max's animated series The Prince.

Richard Griffiths looked for love as Monsieur Frick

Many viewers will no doubt recognize Richard Griffiths as Monsieur Frick from his long-running role as Harry Potter's Uncle Vernon (unless the lack of mustache throws them off), but that's just the cap on a long career that stretches back to the '60s, which Griffiths spent acting for both BBC Radio and the Royal Shakespeare Company

As his star rose, Griffiths showed a sharp eye for future classics, playing a bit part in the Oscar-winning sports drama Chariots of Fire and acting opposite Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant's Woman and his future Hugo castmate Ben Kingsley in Gandhi. But his most iconic pre-Potter role was much less prestigious, as the title character's lecherous uncle in the gutter comedy Withnail & I. In 1995, Griffiths got his own TV series as a rural chef/policeman in Pie in the Sky. 

After the show ended in 1997, Griffiths appeared in Sleepy Hollow, as King George II in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and opposite his onscreen nephew Daniel Radcliffe in the controversial stage show Eqqus. Sadly, we can't hope to see any new projects from him: He died in 2013.

Emily Mortimer filled Lisette with charm

Even the Station Inspector gets a romantic subplot in Hugo as he awkwardly flirts with the station's flower seller, Lisette, played by Emily Mortimer. Rom-com fans may recognize her as the "perfect girl" from Notting Hill. Or, if animation's more your taste, you might recognize her as Holley Shiftwell in Cars 2 or the English voice of the young Sophie in Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle. She's played opposite Bruce Willis in The Kid and Scarlett Johansson in Match Point before getting a starring role in Dear Frankie as a single mother who creates an elaborate fiction to keep her deaf son from the truth about his abusive, absent father by hiring an actor played by Gerard Butler to stand in for him. 

Mortimer first worked with Martin Scorsese as one of two women who claim to be the victim of the murder Leonardo DiCaprio investigates in Shutter Island. More recently, Mortimer starred in the horror movie Relic and in Mary Poppins Returns as the adult Jane Banks, and she's currently developing her own TV series based on Nancy Mitford's novel The Pursuit of Love.

Jude Law plays a pivotal bit part as Hugo's father

We only see Hugo's father in a brief flashback, and most directors would cast a relative unknown — why shell out the money for a star to play such a small part? Scorsese knows better, though, as he proved in both Gangs of New York and Silence, where he cast Liam Neeson as a dead father and a vanished priest, respectively, who are both absent for most of the runtime but whose absence is heavily felt in part because of Neeson's star power. The same is true for Jude Law as the absent father in Hugo

Law rose to stardom in the '90s, with pivotal roles in the sci-fi thriller Gattaca and as Matt Damon's victim in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Since then, he's played a robotic gigolo in Steven Spielberg's A.I. and a psychotic crime scene photographer/hitman in Road to Perdition. He played another memorable bit part for Scorsese as action star Errol Flynn in The Aviator, and he exudes enough cool to play the off-brand James Bond in Spy. He's also appeared in some of Hollywood's biggest franchises, playing Watson to Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes, an alien officer in Captain Marvel, and the young Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts series. He may return to that last one if the series continues, and he's slated to play Captain Hook in Disney's latest take on Peter Pan. In the meantime, you can see him in the recent thrillers The Nest and The Rhythm Section.

Ray Winstone made a big impression with a tiny role as Uncle Claude

Ray Winstone has an even more minor role as Hugo's uncle Claude, who takes him in after his father's death. He only has a few moments to make an impression as a sloppy, drunken lout, and who better to make sure it sticks than Ray Winstone, the ultimate sloppy, drunken lout? Winstone has cornered the market on this character type ever since he played Will Scarlett, who he described as "the first football hooligan," in the British TV series Robin of Sherwood. 

Some of his biggest roles cast him against type, though, like Sexy Beast, where he plays a levelheaded hood struggling with Ben Kingsley's psychotic killer, or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where he plays the fatherly Mr. Beaver. Thanks to the magic of motion capture, the portly star even got to play an action hero in Beowulf, though the technology was much less kind to him as Growltiger in Cats. Like many of Hugo's stars, he had some experience working with Scorsese thanks to his role in The Departed, and Winstone got another memorable voice role the same year Hugo premiered as the thuggish gila monster Bad Bill in Rango. Next, Winstone will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Handler in Black Widow.