Shadow and Bone are poised to become Netflix’s next big hit. It’s the kind of big, expansive genre storytelling we’ve been missing on our TV screens, where prophecies speak of a chosen hero and magical soldiers can stop hearts, summon darkness, and bend the elements to their whims.
Adapted from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse series, Shadow and Bone Netflix primarily follow Alina Starkov, a young woman who discovers she has the ability to summon and manipulate light; she then embarks on a journey of self-discovery across the wartorn land of Ravka and through the treacherous Shadow Fold that divides it. Along the way, she meets a host of other characters, like the cunning General Kirigan and a band of rogues determined to pull off the heist of a lifetime.
Meet the Characters and Who Plays Them
Luckily for fans, Shadow and Bone Netflix have finally picked the trilogy up for an adaptation of the Grishaverse. Now, audiences are dying to know who is playing who in the cast!
Ben Barnes as General Kirigan/The Darkling
Ben Barnes — Tumblr’s No. 1 draft pick for the role of “Aristocratic Handsome Man” — steps into General Kirigan’s pitch black kefta. General Kirigan, known as The Darkling on the battlefield, commands the Second Army, or the Grisha regiment. Kirigan is a Shadow Summoner, a rare kind of Grisha who has the ability to manipulate and weaponize darkness.
Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov
In some ways, Alina Starkov, played by newcomer Jessie Mei Li, is your typical Chosen One — an ordinary girl (an orphan!) who discovers that she possesses extraordinary gifts and is then tasked with saving the world. But in other, more interesting ways, this version of Alina subverts those tropes as she emerges as the hero of her own story first, the world second.
Archie Renaux as Mal Oretsev
Look out for Archie Renaux. This could be a breakout year for the 23-year-old English actor. First, he’s starring as Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend-turned-something more in Shadow and Bone. A foot soldier in the First Army, Mal is a little rough around the edges. In fact, when we first meet him he’s shirtless and brawling. (Renaux has no problem posing shirtless.) Only Alina knows how to break through those stubborn, ridiculously thick walls around his heart. After Alina’s Grisha powers are revealed and she’s transported to the Little Palace, Mal sets off on a dangerous trek through enemy territory to find her. Is it reckless? Yes. Maybe a little endearing? Also yes.
Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker
There’s a reason Kaz Brekker is a fan-favorite character within Bardugo’s Grishaverse. He’s wickedly smart, like “two steps ahead of everyone else” smart, a cunning criminal mastermind who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty or his cane bloody (it can shatter bones). But the thing about Kaz is that he’s also fiercely loyal, and even if he won’t admit it, he’d do anything for his ragtag crew of mercenaries and thieves, otherwise known as the Crows.
Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa
Kaz’s second in command, Inej, played by Amita Suman, is a knife-wielding spy and trained acrobat with a strong moral code. She works for Kaz because she wants to buy her freedom from an indenture at a local pleasure house in Ketterdam called the Menagerie. Still, there are things she won’t do for money — and killing people is one of them.
Kit Young as Jesper Fahey
English actor Kit Young is a total scene-stealer as Jesper, the impulsive gunslinger on Kaz’s crew. According to the 26-year-old English actor, Jesper was initially described to him as a “good sharpshooter, the gambler is a low key most fly dressed person in the room, and bisexual.” And that about sums it up. Jesper has a wandering eye for shiny things and beautiful men, which makes him a bit of a liability on a job, but he’s reliable more often than not. He also loves a bit of gallows humor.
Danielle Galligan as Nina Zenik
Nina is a Heartrender, a Grisha who can control a person’s internal organs, and when we first meet her she’s a spy on a mission for General Kirigan’s Second Army. She’s captured by Fjerdan soldiers — the Drüskelle, known to hunt and kill Grisha — and that’s where Nina’s story gets interesting. Out of necessity, she makes an unexpected connection with one of her captors, a Drüskelle named Matthias. Nina is bold, brash, and charming, all the things Matthias believes women should not be. Unfortunately for him, Nina is unbothered by his remarks.
Calahan Skogman as Matthias Helvar
As a Drüskelle soldier, burly Matthias believes that all Grisha are evil witches who must be destroyed. But he meets his match in Nina, who challenges his perception of Grisha (and women). When it becomes clear that they need each other to survive, Matthias starts to have a change of heart — and it has nothing to do with Nina’s abilities.