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Why Amalia True From The Nevers Looks Familiar

As the cast of The Nevers gets ready for their series to debut on HBO Max on April 11, they're dealing with a publicity firestorm that many of them never anticipated. Joss Whedon, the show's creator and the man who played a key role in hiring them, has been accused of abusive behavior on other sets (via The Cut), and has stepped back from the spotlight as a result. Now, the show's cast is trying to push the show forward in spite of the reputation of its creator, and highlighting a number of familiar faces in the process. 

The Nevers is set in 19th century Victorian England, and follows a group of women who find that they have extraordinary powers, and a mission that may change the world. As an HBO Max title from a well-known creator, the series will have plenty of buzz when it debuts, as well as a lead actress who's already done plenty of work on TV. 

That Northern Irish actress, Laura Donnelly, is set to play Amalia True on the series. And while she may be new to lead roles, she's likely familiar to many people preparing to tune into the series. 

Laura Donnelly played Freya on Merlin

Laura Donnelly only appeared in a couple episodes of Merlin – the 2008 BBC series which loosely depicts the classic Arthurian legends with a much younger wizard — but she nonetheless played a fairly crucial role. Her character was Freya, who falls in love with Merlin (Colin Morgan) after he helps her escape from a bounty hunter, becoming one of the title character's principal love interests. Freya eventually dies on the shores of the Lake of Avalon, and becomes the Lady of the Lake. 

Although Merlin didn't have an enormous audience — at least, not in the US — the fantasy series has gained a cult following in the years since it originally aired. Freya wasn't a long-running character, but given the acclaim that Merlin has continued to pile up in the years since it's aired, a huge number of people may have first been exposed to Donnelly thanks to this very memorable role.

Laura Donnelly was murdered on The Fall

Though originally a British series, The Fall turned into a fairly big deal for American audiences when it finally found its way to US shores. Laura Donnelly played Sarah Kay on the show, and while she only appears in three episodes, she makes a fairly large impact. That is due, in part, to the fact that she ends up as the first victim of Peter Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) who he kills on screen. She's the third victim, overall, but her role as the first person to get an onscreen death proved pivotal for how the series would change after she died. 

It's with Donnelly's role on The Fall that she also began to be more well-known by audiences outside the U.K., and although she'd previously guest starred on a number of shows that eventually made their way to the US, The Fall's reach was significantly expanded by Netflix — and the star power of its two stars, Gillian Anderson and Dornan.

Laura Donnelly played Jenny Murray on Outlander

If The Fall was the first chance many Americans had to see Donnelly, Outlander was what made her a truly familiar face to many devoted TV watchers in the states. Donnelly played Janet "Jenny" Fraser Murray on the show, and was a recurring character for the show's first three seasons. Jenny is depicted as being Jamie's (Sam Heughan) older sibling, and she shares the stubbornness that defines him as a character. She is married to Ian Murray, though their marriage happens before the events of the show.

Given the character's relative prominence in the first three seasons, Donnelly likely got plenty of exposure from her role on the show. Outlander has continued to be a massive hit well past its initial seasons, but the show was at its most popular during those early episodes, and Donnelly got to ride the high of the show's  success. Ultimately, the recognition she earned from this role led her to even bigger ones. 

Laura Donnelly was in Tolkien

After she had wrapped up her work on Outlander, Donnelly's next major appearance was in the 2019 film Tolkien, starring Nicholas Hoult as the title character. Although the film wasn't an enormous critical or commercial success, it has remained a frequent point of discussion, given the massive degree of interest that J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy works have had on popular culture. 

Donnelly played Mabel Tolkien, the author's mother, in the film. Given that the majority of the film takes place while Tolkien is an adult, Donnelly's role in the film is not huge, but it proves pivotal to understanding how the author ultimately became the legendary person many are familiar with today. 

Tolkien was also Donnelly's first major role in a film, and it was one that may have finally helped her land the lead on a TV show like The Nevers. Over the course of a career that's spanned more than 15 years, Donnelly has proven that she's capable of working in a wide variety of formats and genres.