For casual Philip Pullman fans whose only exposure to his work is the 2007 film The Golden Compass, or newcomers anticipating the BBC’s His Dark Materials this fall, the name Will Parry may not ring a bell. But anyone who’s read the books knows the monumental role this character will play in the story to come, and now we know the young man who will be playing him.
The series’ Twitter has announced that actor Amir Wilson (The Kid Who Would Be King) will be taking on the role of Will Parry, a ferocious, intelligent, and mysterious young man who crosses paths with Lyra (Dafne King) during the second book in the series, The Subtle Knife, and stays with her through the final book, The Amber Spyglass. Their destinies become intertwined, as they play a central role in the future of life as we know it.
— His Dark Materials (@darkmaterials) June 6, 2019
I won’t spoil who exactly Will is, where he comes from, or what happens between him and Lyra. All I will say is, holy shit, Amir Wilson is Will Parry.
The character is described in the books as intensity personified, with a gaze that could see into your very soul, which this kid has. He also has black hair and striking eyebrows. And I’ll note that, while Will’s ethnicity has never been clearly stated, on book covers and other promotional materials he’s been coded as Caucasian with blond or reddish hair, in yet another example of book covers failing to properly represent their own protagonists. It’s not only great to see a person of colour take on this pivotal role in the series, but also one who actually matches the character description better than some of the main book art!
One of the biggest disappointments with The Golden Compass was that the movie’s failure meant Will Parry never entered the cinematic saga, especially since he’s such an important character and a crucial part of Lyra’s life and story. His casting in the BBC show further confirms that the first season will most likely cover a majority of the first book, and the already guaranteed second season could see us delving into The Subtle Knife and all the mysteries that lie beyond.
His Dark Materials is being directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper, and also stars Ruth Wilson as Marisa Coulter, James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby. The series hasn’t announced a release date, but is expected “soon.”