Christian Bale leads the ensemble cast of the Netflix mystery thriller The Pale Blue Eye. The film is written and directed by Scott Cooper (Black Mass, Antlers) and based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Louis Bayard. The Pale Blue Eye‘s plot is set in 1830, in West Point, New York, as a police detective teams with a young Edgar Allan Poe to solve a series of murders at the United States Military Academy.
After the body of a cadet is found hung and mutilated, retired veteran detective Augustus Landor is called in to investigate the murder. Augustus receives aid in his investigation from cadet Edgar Allen Poe, who also happens to be an aspiring poet. Augustus’ investigation leads him to the local Marquis family and their possible connections to witchcraft. Here’s a character guide for The Pale Blue Eye, featuring the main parties of this 19th-century mystery thriller.
Christian Bale as Augustus Landor
Augustus Landor is a retired veteran detective haunted by the disappearance of his daughter Mattie two years prior. He is called to the United States Military Academy for a murder investigation when cadet Leroy Fry is found hanging, whose heart was later removed as his body lay in the morgue. In addition to being the lead, Christian Bale is also one of the producers of The Pale Blue Eye. Christian Bale had his breakthrough role at 13 years old in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 film Empire of the Sun. In the nearly four decades since, Bale enjoyed a varied career, with his best-known credits being Newsies, American Psycho, The Machinist, The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Terminator Salvation, and The Fighter, for which he won an Academy Award.
Harry Melling as Edgar Allan Poe
The Pale Blue Eye features a semi-fictional depiction of the 19th-century poet, with the film’s title coming from a line from Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart. At the time of the film, 19 years before Poe’s mysterious death, the aspiring poet is a cadet at the United States Military Academy, whom Augustus Landor asks to assist in his investigation. Harry Melling is a former child actor best known for playing Dudley Dursley in five Harry Potter films. Melling’s most notable credits as an adult include The Lost City of Z, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Gillian Anderson as Mrs. Julia Marquis
Not introduced until near the film’s midpoint, Julia Marquis is the wife of Dr. Daniel Marquis. The entire Marquis family becomes characters of interest in Augustus Landor’s investigation. Gillian Anderson is best known for playing FBI Special Agent Dana Scully on The X-Files. Predominantly a television actor, Anderson has appeared on Hannibal, The Fall, Sex Education, and The Crown. Gillian Anderson’s notable film credits include The Mighty Celt, The Last King of Scotland, Shadow Dancer, Viceroy’s House and the two X-Files feature films The X-Files: Fight the Future and The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Lucy Boynton as Lea Marquis
Lea Marquis is the daughter of Julia and Daniel Marquis, who suffers from a condition that gives her random seizures. Lea becomes the object of affection for Edgar Allen Poe, and her affliction inspires his story, The Tell-Tale Heart. Lucy Boynton has been acting since childhood, making her debut as the young Beatrix Potter in 2006’s Miss Potter. Many would recognize Boynton for her roles as aspiring model Raphina in Sing Street, Countess Andrenyi in Murder on the Orient Express, and Mary Austin in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Lucy Boynton’s other notable credits include The Blackcoat’s Daughter, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, Don’t Knock Twice, Gypsy, and Apostle (2018).
Robert Duvall as Jean-Pepe
Legendary actor Robert Duvall appears as occult expert Jean-Pepe in two scenes of The Pale Blue Eye. Augustus Landor seeks Jean-Pepe’s assistance when he begins to suspect that witchcraft and devil worship might be a motivating factor in the sacrificial nature of the murders. Now 92 years old, Robert Duvall has enjoyed a multi-decade film career that dates back to 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Duvall’s most notable credits include Tom Hagen in The Godfather, Lieutenant Colonel William “Bill” Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, Euliss F. “Sonny” Dewey in The Apostle (1997), Jerry Facher in A Civil Action, and Judge Joseph Palmer in The Judge.
Every Supporting Actor in The Pale Blue Eye
Simon McBurney as Captain Hitchcock: A captain at the United States Military Academy who is the one that hires Augustus Landor. Simon McBurney is a British character actor whose credits include The Manchurian Candidate, Friends with Money, The Last King of Scotland, The Golden Compass, The Duchess, Robin Hood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Magic in the Moonlight, The Theory of Everything, and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.
Timothy Spall as Superintendent Thayer: Superintendent Thayer is the commanding officer of the United States Military Academy, who has little patience for Augustus Landor’s methods. Timothy Spall is one of the most prominent British character actors throughout his 45-year career. Some of Spall’s most notable roles include Rosencrantz in Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 adaptation of Hamlet, Peter “Wormtail” Pettigrew in five Harry Potter movies, Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, J. M. W. Turner in Mr. Turner, and Major Alistair Gregory in Spencer.
Toby Jones as Dr. Daniel Marquis: Dr. Daniel Marquis performs the initial autopsy in the case before he and his family become people of interest for Augustus Landor. Toby Jones made his debut in Sally Potter’s 1992 period drama Orlando. His notable roles include voicing Dobby the House Elf in two Harry Potter films, playing Truman Capote in 2006’s Infamous, HYDRA henchman Arnim Zola in the MCU, and most recently, projectionist Norman in Empire of Light.
Harry Lawtey as Cadet Artemus Marquis: Daniel and Julia Marquis’s son, a cadet at the United States Military Academy. Harry Lawtey debuted in 2016’s City of Tiny Lights and stars as Robert Spearing in the BBC Two and HBO series Industry. Lawtey also appeared in 2021’s Benediction and will have a role in Joker: Folie à Deux.
Fred Hechinger as Cadet Randolph Ballinger: A cadet at the United States Military Academy who has an antagonistic relationship with Edgar Allan Poe due to both having a romantic attraction towards Lea Marquis. Fred Hechinger is best known for playing Trevor in the coming-of-age film Eighth Grade, John Calley in the Western drama News of the World, and Ethan Russell in the psychological thriller The Woman in the Window.
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Patsy: A barmaid who is a lover and confidant for Augustus Landor. Charlotte Gainsbourg is best known for her roles in Lars von Trier’s so-called “Depression Trilogy” of 2009’s Antichrist, 2011’s Melancholia, and 2013’s Nymphomaniac.
Hadley Robinson as Mattie: Augustus Landor’s absent daughter, seen in the film through flashbacks, who ends up playing an essential role in the conclusion of The Pale Blue Eye. Hadley Robinson played Sallie Gardiner Moffat in 2019’s Little Women. Her other credits include 2020’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, 2021’s Moxie, and George Clooney’s upcoming directorial effort, The Boys in the Boat.
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