Shardlake cast: who’s who guide

Meet the Shardlake cast who bring to life the hit Tudor murder mystery on Disney Plus

Shardlake with Jack Barak

The Shardlake cast is packed full of big names as “Dissolution”, the first of C.J. Sansom’s acclaimed novels, finally reaches the screen on Disney Plus. Set during the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century, the four-part murder mystery follows lawyer Matthew Shardlake who’s sent to investigate the murder of a royal official at a corrupt monastery on the south coast of England.

Here’s our guide to the key characters and who’s playing them…

Matthew Shardlake (Arthur Hughes)

Arthur Hughes
Image Credit : Google

Our hero, Matthew Shardlake is a London lawyer who is self-conscious about how scoliosis has affected his physical appearance and often suffers cruel taunts. Explaining his character, Arthur Hughes says: “He’s well respected, very intelligent but he’s an outsider in this world. In this time of history to be different, to be physically different from everyone else, and noticeably so, comes with a lot of cruelty and ostracization. But his disability is also his superpower and strength. 

“Shardlake is very self-aware and has a real sense of goodness and justice to him. He’s a modern thinker and a modern man for the time that he’s living in. He has a real sense of what’s right and wrong and knowledge of all the power struggles that go on within this time, and he’s despite all the brutality, he’s a gentle modern man.”

Thomas Cromwell (Sean Bean)

Sean Bean as Sir Thomas Cromwell in Shardlake
Image Credit : Google

Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Chief Minister, dispatches Shardlake to investigate the murder. Sean Bean says: “Thomas Cromwell appealed to me as a character because he was a real man; a real person in the early 16th Century. I’ve always been quite interested in medieval and Tudor eras and history in general. I read the books about 14 years ago; I was in Norway at the time for work and I read the first three. There were only three books back then but I read them avidly. CJ Samson is a brilliant writer and wonderful observer of the human condition, of peoples hopes and fears, so when this came up of course I was obviously very interested. 

“Cromwell is such a great character and he held so much power so he’s interesting. He was pivotal in changing religion. He challenged the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, he facilitated the divorce of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon- something that had never been done before — and the marriage to Anne Boleyn.”

Jack Barak (Anthony Boyle)

Anthony Boyle as Jack Barak in Shardlake
Image Credit : Google

Jack is Cromwell’s underling and he’s sent to help Shardlake but Shardlake must remember he’s Cromwell’s man. How much can he trust him? Talking about Jack’s relationship with Shardlake, Anthony explains: “Jack Barak is the embodiment of everything that Shardlake is not. He’s cocky and Shardlake is very serious; he’s a very severe man. Shardlake has been through so much in his life so he’s sort of retired into himself, whereas Jack Barak, who’s been through his own trial and tribulations, is very open and takes things head on. 

“They are the antithesis of each other and when they meet it’s a clash of personalities. Barak is so arrogant and confident that Shardlake can’t help but hate him. He’s just everything that Shardlake isn’t about. Over the course of the series though, they develop an unlikely buddy relationship.”

Alice (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis)

Ruby Ashbourne Serkis as Alice in Shardlake
Image Credit : Google

A servant at the monastery. Ruby explains: “At the beginning, Alice sees Shardlake and Barak as nothing more than a massive threat to the monastery and the life at the monastery, which of course she is dependent on. They symbolize everything that the Cromwellian regime stands for so when they arrive she’s got her guard up. 

“But she sees that Shardlake is different from the Commissioners sent before in that, he’s really quite fair, and a benevolent man with virtuous qualities and morals. She is surrounded by monks and people who try to take advantage of her, so she feels comfortable with Shardlake. They have a sweet relationship and something neither of them really had before. And then Barak comes in.

“She’s kind of resigned herself to a life of celibacy by going to this monastery after she’s lost her loved one. She doesn’t expect to feel that way again for anyone but she finds a sort of kindred spirit in Barak.”

Abbot Fabian (Babou Ceesay)

Babou Ceesay as Abbot Fabian in Shardlake

Image Credit : Google

Abbot Fabian runs St Donatus monastery and gives Shardlake a cool welcome. He claims he has no secrets to hide, but it he telling the truth? What does he really know about the murder?

Brother Jerome is one of the monks at the monastery. He has a clear hatred for Cromwell, so could he be involved in the death of the royal official. Like everyone at St Donatus, he seems to have secrets. Can Shardlake get to the bottom of his story?

Home and Away spoilers, Eden Fowler
image credit : Google

There’s an angry confrontation between Eden and Mackenzie on Home and Away… 

Meanwhile, man-of-the-moment Levi is determined to justify his actions in the aftermath of the fallout from the affair.

Levi makes it clear that Mackenzie is the woman he loves and he wants to be with her, if it means moving his life to Summer Bay.

But it may take the people in his life, including sister Eden, some time to get on board with his declaration.

At the end of the day, Levi is just grateful to have Mackenzie despite the fact that everything else seems to be falling apart.

But is Mackenzie starting to have second thoughts about shacking-up with Levi so quickly…

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