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Where You've Seen The Cast Of The Woman King Before

TriStar Pictures' period war drama "The Woman King" is inspired by the true, rich history of the Kingdom of Dahomey. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, from a screenplay written by "Nightingale" scribe Dana Stevens, the film tells a female-centered story, a specialty for Prince-Bythewood, who previously helmed the 2008 all-star drama "The Secret Life of Bees" and the Netflix adaptation of "The Old Guard" starring Charlize Theron.

The film follows the Agojie (aka Dahomey Amazons), fearless female warriors who served as the elite kingsguard of the African kingdom's royal family in the 1800s. Leading this one-of-a-kind army is General Nanisca (Viola Davis), described as the most exceptional female warrior ever to live, and Dahomey's ultimate weapon. Using her experience and unmatched skills, she must train the Agojie's next generation of warriors in order to prepare them for an imminent, great evil coming to disrupt their way of life.

The cast went through intense physical transformations; for Davis in particular, this amounted to three hours of martial arts training a day, an hour-and-a-half of weight lifting, and a rigorous weapons education. The end result promises that "Woman King" will have some thrilling, non-stop action sequences. Before you see the cast transformed, here's where you've seen them before.

Viola Davis as General Nanisca

Leading the cast of "The Woman King" is the formidable Davis as General Nanisca, the fierce leader of the Dahomey Kingdom's all-female army. Before making her onscreen acting debut, Davis began as a professional stage actress in a handful of off-Broadway productions. In 1996, she made her Broadway debut in the original production of "Seven Guitars" from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, whose works continued to be a significant part of Davis' career, even after his 2005 death.

During the same year as her Broadway debut, Davis made her leap into Hollywood with a small part in the film "The Substance of Fire," followed by one-episode appearances in police drama shows like "NYPD Blue" and "New York Undercover." After several years of only landing minor roles in films, her big break came in the 2008 Oscar bait drama "Doubt." Even though she only appeared for one scene, and was featured alongside heavyweights like Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, Davis stole the spotlight and earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

By the 2010s, Davis had become a household name with roles in films like Tate Taylor's star-studded drama "The Help," the James Brown biopic "Get On Up," and the crime drama "Lila & Eve." Soon after, she began conquering television with Shonda Rhimes' legal thriller "How to Get Away with Murder," where she portrayed Annalise Keating, one of her most memorable roles to date. For her work in the popular six-season drama, she became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.

When she's not playing a tough lawyer on the small screen, Davis has been making appearances in diverse films like both versions of "Suicide Squad" (one of the few actors cast in both the David Ayer and James Gunn films, she plays Amanda Waller), the period drama "Fences" (starring opposite Denzel Washington, she won an Oscar for best actress), and Netflix's adaptation of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." After her turn in "The Woman King," Davis will reprise her role as Waller in the "Black Adam" film, as well as a possible solo series for HBO Max.

John Boyega as King Ghezo

John Boyega stars in "The Woman King ” as King Ghezo, based on the real-life ruler of the Kingdom of Dahomey. Besides Viola Davis, Boyega is likely the most familiar face in the cast, especially to "Star Wars" fans after he gained worldwide recognition for starring as one of the new generation characters in Lucasfilm's sequel "Star Wars" trilogy. He portrayed the role of Finn, first introduced in "The Force Awakens" as a former stormtrooper of The First Order.

Before joining that blockbuster franchise, Boyega's film career began in 2011 with Joe Cornish's sci-fi horror cult hit "Attack the Block." Despite receiving a poor box office turnout, the film garnered positive reviews from critics, who praised its well-crafted innovative storyline, Cornish's smart direction, and Boyega's incredible leading performance. An "Attack the Block 2" is reportedly in development, with Boyega and Cornish expected to return.

Apart from having a penchant for sci-fi movies like "Pacific Rim: Uprising" and the upcoming Netflix film "They Cloned Tyrone," the British actor has also explored other genres by landing roles in films like the Sundance-winning drama "Imperial Dreams," the techno-thriller "The Circle," the period crime drama "Detroit" from Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, and the dark comedy "Naked Singularity." As for his television career, Boyega scored his first Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor for his performance in Steve McQueen's anthology drama "Small Axe."

Lashana Lynch as Izogie

Lashana Lynch portrays Izogie, a veteran warrior glimpsed in trailers fighting alongside Viola Davis' General Nanisca. Lynch is no stranger to the action genre, as she is best known for her scene-stealing work as Maria Rambeau throughout the MCU. Her performance as a loyal friend to Brie Larson's Carol Danvers in "Captain Marvel" was considered one of the highlights of that 2019 superhero film, and she most recently could be seen again in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," where she played a high-powered variant of Rambeau/Captain Marvel.

Before heading to Hollywood, Lynch made her feature acting debut in the 2012 British drama "Fast Girls," starring alongside Lily James. She then appeared in such UK films as the comedy "Powder Room" and the drama "Brotherhood," also nabbing small parts in several British TV dramas like the crime drama "Silent Witness," the fantasy adventure "Atlantis," the TV film "The 7.39," and the long-running medical soap opera "Doctors." In 2017, Lynch made her American television debut in Shonda Rhimes' Shakespeare-inspired period drama "Still Star-Crossed," canceled after one season.

Following her breakout role in "Captain Marvel," Lynch successfully landed another high-profile feature in the form of "No Time to Die," the last of the Daniel Craig-led James Bond films. In the 2021 spy thriller, Lynch played the role of Nomi, the first female agent who took over the number of "007" after Bond retired from active service.

Thuso Mbedu as Nawi

Portraying one of the Dahomey Amazon's newest recruits is Thuso Mbedu, who makes her feature acting debut as Nawi in "The Woman King." 

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Mbedu revealed that she turned down the chance of joining a major franchise in favor of starring opposite Viola Davis in the upcoming historical drama. Davis has gone on record saying that Mbedu would be the right actress to play her younger self if there was ever a movie made of her life.

Mbedu is a South African actress who first received international recognition through her leading role in Amazon Studios' limited drama series "The Underground Railroad," from "Moonlight" filmmaker Barry Jenkins. Before her American TV debut, she was known as an acclaimed actress in South Africa, where she starred dramas like "Saints and Sinners," "Isibay," "Scandal!," "Shuga," and "Generations: The Legacy."

For her breakthrough lead performance as Winnie Bhengu in two seasons of the "Is'thunzi" series, she received two best performance by an actress nominations at the International Emmy Awards. In an interview with news24, Mbedu opened up about her life-changing casting, revealing that landing "Is'thunzi" saved her from giving up on her promising acting career, especially after a period of struggling to find work.

Sheila Atim as Amenza

Sheila Atim plays the role of Amenza, one of Nanisca's most loyal warriors. Atim is a Ugandan British actress, best known for her critically-acclaimed theater work in the U.K. Her most notable performances as a professional stage actress are in the 2017 musical "Girl from the North Country" and the two-hander play "Constellations," which both gave her Laurence Olivier Awards for best actress in a supporting role in a musical and best actress, respectively.

Despite briefly appearing in the British sitcom "I Live with Models" in 2014, Atim's onscreen acting career only began to take off in 2018 after four busy years of theater. She's now balancing her time performing onstage with making appearances on shows like Hulu's period drama "Harlot," Sky One's comedy drama "Bounty Hunters," Prime Video's sci-fi drama "The Feed," BBC's limited drama "The Pale Horse," and Netflix's coming-of-age mystery adventure "The Irregulars." In 2021, she landed the role of Mabel in Amazon's "The Underground Railroad" series, collaborating for the first time with "Woman King" co-star Thuso Mbedu.

Atim has appeared in three major features: the Netflix sports drama "Bruised," the fantasy neo-noir "The Show" from Alan Moore and "Multiverse of Madness." Besides "The Woman King," she is featured in Disney's live-action "Pinocchio" film.

Angélique Kidjo

Angélique Kidjo is a five-time Grammy Award-winning artist, hailed by Time magazine as Africa's premiere diva. She shares an interesting connection with "Woman King" in that she was born in the Republic of Benin, formerly known as the Kingdom of Dahomey. 

"The Woman King" marks Kidjo's first major Hollywood project in two decades, after making her acting debut in the crime drama "People I Know" alongside Al Pacino and Kim Basinger. After that, she didn't pursue acting opportunities, likely due to a busy music career that has seen her elevating African culture through songs and music videos. She has released thirteen albums to date, including chart-topping hits like "Agolo," "We We," "Adouma," "Batonga," and more. Throughout her four-decade singing career, she has amassed an impressive awards collection, including multiple Grammys for best contemporary world music album.

In 2013, she appeared in the independent drama film "Mother of George," starring alongside "The Walking Dead" vet Danai Gurira. Three years later, Kidjo joined the Nigerian film "The CEO"; her most recent film credit is the 2021 French drama "The Braves." Kidjo has also contributed tracks to many American movie soundtracks, including the 1994 adaptation of "Street Fighter," the comedy "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls," the adventure comedy "Sahara," and the thriller "Blood Diamond."

Adrienne Warren as Ode

Adrienne Warren portrays Ode, one of the warriors joining Viola Davis' Nanisca in the battle to secure the freedom of Dahomey. Like most of the film's cast members, Warren first received recognition through her work as a professional theater actress.

In 2012, she made her Broadway debut in the musical adaptation of the 2000 teen dance film "Bring It On," which featured the music and lyrics of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Her big break came in the form of "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical," where she took on the lead role and won a Tony Award for best actress. Besides acting on Broadway, Warren has also made one-episode appearances in a handful of popular TV shows including "Blue Bloods," "Orange Is the New Black," "Royal Pains" and the Priyanka Chopra-led thriller "Quantico."

Earlier this year, she landed her first major TV project as the lead in the ABC limited drama "Women of the Movement," playing Mamie Till-Mobley. That series marked Warren's first collaboration with Gina Prince-Bythewood, who served as a director and executive producer. "The Woman King" will mark Warren's movie debut, and she will next be seen in Netflix's George C. Wolf/Dustin Lance Black-overseen biographical film about civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.

Jordan Bolger

Jordan Bolger is another British actor set to play a supporting role in "The Woman King," playing a character who has an attraction to Thuso Mbedu's Nawi. Before starring in the upcoming historical drama, Bolger has appeared in the films "The Habit of Beauty," "Don't Knock Twice" (starring Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Boynton), Netflix's sci-fi crime drama "iBoy" with "Game of Thrones" star Maisie Williams, the independent drama "Scarborough," and the 2021 hybrid live-action/animated comedy "Tom & Jerry."

Bolger is familiar to avid TV viewers, appearing in the first four seasons of the hit British crime drama "Peaky Blinders" as Isaiah Jesus, one of the youngest members of Birmingham's titular gang. Bolger left the show due to scheduling conflicts.

After that, he nabbed a recurring role as Miles Shaw in Seasons 5 and 6 of The CW sci-fi action drama "The 100." He then made his "Star Wars" debut in the Disney+ prequel spin-off series "The Book of Boba Fett," where he played the role of Skad, a young biker with a droid eye.

Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Santo Ferreira

Taking on the role of Santo Ferreira is Hero Fiennes Tiffin. His character is the film's antagonist, a European conqueror who plans to take over the Kingdom of Dahomey. 

Fiennes Tiffin began acting at the age of 11 years old, when he was cast in 2009's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" for the role of young Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort), played by his real-life uncle Ralph Fiennes.

In 2018, Fiennes Tiffin made his small screen debut in the crime drama "Safe," in which he played the recurring character of Ioan Fuller for five episodes. His breakthrough role came the following year, with his first lead role, playing Hardin Scott in the film adaptation of "After," based on Anna Todd's teen romance novel of the same name. The story was originally posted in Wattpad as a One Direction fiction, making Fiennes Tiffin's character actually based on Harry Styles.

Despite receiving negative reviews, "After" was modest box office hit, grossing $70 million worldwide. Fiennes Tiffin later reprised the role in three sequels entitled "After We Collided," "After We Fell," and "After Ever Happy." He recently confirmed that he and co-star Josephine Langford have finished filming the surprise fifth installment of the "After" franchise (titled "After Everything"); it will be the only one that won't be based on Todd's novels.

Jayme Lawson

In "The Woman King," Jayme Lawson plays the role of King Ghezo's ambitious and cunning head wife. After graduating from Juilliard in 2019, Lawson scored a role in the Off-Broadway revival of Ntozake Shange's acclaimed stage play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf." In a 2022 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she revealed that she turned down two film offers from major studios in favor of the rare opportunity to stand on stage alongside six women of color.

In 2020, Lawson made her big screen debut with the Sundance drama "Farewell Amor," which revolves around Angolan immigrants. Despite losing the chance to appear right away in high-profile films, another opportunity soon arrived in the form of Matt Reeves' Robert Pattinson-led superhero film "The Batman," where she landed the role of Bella Reál. Her character is introduced in the blockbuster as a young, idealistic political candidate running for mayor of Gotham City.

Following her appearance in "The Batman," Lawson made her TV debut in Showtime's anthology drama "The First Lady" as a young version of Michelle Obama (portrayed in more recent years by her "Woman King" co-star Davis). Lawson is currently making plans to appear in the biographical drama "Till," starring opposite EGOT winner Whoopie Goldberg, Danielle Deadwyler, and Jalyn Hall.