The Terror: Meet the cast and characters of Ridley Scott's epic Arctic thriller

The series, starring Jared Harris, Tobias Menzies and Ciaran Hinds, is based on the best-seller from Dan Simmons inspired by the true story of an Arctic expedition that met a tragic end.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 26 February 2021 - 3.06pm
AMC The cast of The Terror

Warmer weather may be on the way but there's a distinct chill in the air for fans of epic drama as The Terror comes to BBC Two from March 3.

The 10-episode series, from executive producer Ridley Scott, is an unforgettable suspense thriller, inspired by the true story of a Royal Navy voyage into unchartered territory.

In 1845, two ships, the Terror and the Erebus, sailed north from England in a bid to find the Northwest Passage, a route around the top of Canada into the Pacific Ocean and potentially a faster, safer trade route to Asia.

At some point on their voyage, both ships became trapped in the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean. What happened next is a mystery, as the 129 souls on board the two vessels were never seen again. 

The Terror - Two ships in ice AMC

The Terror highlights all that can go wrong when a group of men, desperate to survive, struggle not only with the elements, but with each other.

"The Terror captures a rare combination of fascinating history, complex and flawed characters, the inextinguishable human spirit and the horror and promise of an uncharted world," said executive producers and co-showrunners David Kajganich and Soo Hugh.

As well as being executive produced by Scott - veteran director of Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and Thelma & Louise - The Terror boasts an big-name cast led by Chernobyl and Mad Men star Jared Harris.

Meet the cast of the epic series and the characters they play.

Captain Francis Crozier – Played by Jared Harris

Jared Harris as Captain Francis Crozier AMC

Captain of the HMS Terror and second in command of the expedition, Francis Crozier is a peerless sailor and an Irishman who has reached his glass ceiling in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. He's had to accept his second-class status without internalising it, even as he sees his accomplishments go unrecognised and his expert advice unheeded again and again.

When disaster strikes the expedition and he finally has a chance to prove himself, will he be able to face down his many demons and rise to the challenge of saving his men?

Jared Harris is best known for his roles as Lane Pryce in AMC’s award-winning series Mad Men and Valery Legasov in the 2019 mini-series Chernobyl, for which he won a Bafta for Best Actor. He’s also appeared in the sci-fi series Fringe and in Netflix period drama The Crown as George VI.

His film credits include Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Lincoln.

Jared is the son of Irish acting legend Richard Harris.

Discover the incredible story of the real-life Captain Crozier

Captain James Fitzjames – Tobias Menzies

Tobias Menzies as Captain James Fitzjames AMC

Second-in-command of Erebus and third-in-command of the expedition, James Fitzjames is a rising star in the British Royal Navy.

He has secured John Franklin’s confidence, in spite of his never having sailed in the polar regions before, and develops an enmity toward Crozier. Fitzjames perceives Crozier as a joyless alcoholic bore, but he secretly knows that Crozier sees through his self-aggrandising bluster.

And Crozier is not wrong: When the expedition finds itself in desperate straits, the confident mask Fitzjames presents to the world begins to slip, revealing a man with crippling secrets.

Tobias Menzies is best known for performances in the cult series Outlander, where he plays Jonathan ‘Black Jack’ Randall and Game of Thrones, which he stars in as Edmure Tully.

His film credits include Casino Royale, Atonement and Underworld: Blood Wars.

He's best known for his impressive slate of British TV series including Channel 4 comedy Catastrophe, Charlie Mirror’s Black Mirror, BBC One’s The Night Manager and Silent Witness.

Captain John Franklin – Ciaran Hinds

Ciarán Hinds as Captain John Franklin  AMC

Captain of HMS Erebus and commander of the expedition, Sir John Franklin is an experienced leader with a blemished record in the Royal Navy, a man "everyone likes, but no one respects". He saw men die under his leadership on a previous polar expedition, and, nearing the end of his uneven career, would like to retire in full glory as the man who finally discovered the Northwest Passage.

But despite his best efforts, his ambition puts his men in terrible danger and  he must try to undo the damage caused by his Victorian hubris.

The Northern Irish actor has featured in films such as Road to Perdition, Munich, There Will Be Blood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He also starred in the Justice League movie as the main villain Steppenwolf.

His TV credits include Gaius Julius Caesar in the series Rome, DCI James Langton in Above Suspicion, Bud Hammond in Political Animals and Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones.

Dr Henry Goodsir – Paul Ready

Paul Ready as Dr. Henry Goodsir AMC

The most junior of the expedition’s four doctors, Harry Goodsir is a gentle, moral soul who joins the Discovery Service to explore the natural world of the Arctic.

But his open-minded intellect and empathetic nature make him the first to realise something supernatural is also in play, and he sets about trying to understand the forces working to destroy the men, even as he redoubles his efforts to try to connect with this vast, strange landscape and its indigenous people.

Paul Ready is best known to British TV fans as stay-at-home-dad Kevin in BBC comedy Motherland.

His other TV credits include the cop series Cuffs, The Tunnel and Channel 4's critically acclaimed horror thriller Utopia.

Cornelius Hickey – Adam Nagitis

Adam Nagaitis as Cornelius Hickey AMC

HMS Terror's Caulker’s mate - a term for a young petty officer - Cornelius Hickey's rank on the ships should, by any standard, keep him invisible to the officers. But Hickey is not quite what he seems.

With streetwise intelligence and intense social ambition, he attempts to ingratiate and triangulate his way up the social ladder. But when his early efforts fail, a newfound contempt for authority leads him to an even more dangerous agenda, threatening the expedition from within even as the men battle terrifying forces from without.

Adam Nagaitis is best known to TV fans for his roles in Bronte sister drama To Walk Invisible, the mini-series Houdini and Doyle, BBC One hit Happy Valley and period drama Banished.

Lady Silence - Nive Nielsen

Nive Nielsen as The Silence in The Terror AMC

As a member of the region’s Netsilik people and the daughter of a formidable shaman, 'Lady Silence', as she is nicknamed by the men of the expedition, begins our story as a dutiful young woman at risk of being overwhelmed by the destabilising presence of two ships full of Europeans upsetting the delicate balance of her homeland.

But she must quickly learn to manage her fears and find a way to attempt to protect her own people as well as some of the men on the expedition for whom she has come to feel an unexpected friendship. She and she alone may hold the key to reversing the supernatural disaster taking place alongside the men’s desperate race for survival.

Nive Nielsen launched her career as the front woman of the Greenlandic group Nive and the Deer Children. While touring around the world, her namesake band won numerous awards, including the Danish Crown Prince Couple’s Stardust Award, an Independent Music Award and even a nomination for the Nordic Music Prize. Nielsen isn't just another indie rock sensation, though; she has also followed her passion to a career in film and TV.

While Nielsen was studying in Ottawa, her friend and future bandmate encouraged her to play the ukulele and write some songs. Despite never having written or sung before, Nielsen took it as a challenge and wrote the song Room, which later became one of the first songs produced by her. Fronted by Nielsen, the group debuted with its self-released album, Nive Sings! in 2009. The album was a huge success and would go on to achieve gold status in Greenland – where one in 10 people owns it.

After completing her studies abroad, Nielsen returned home to work for Greenland national TV and radio as a researcher, segment producer and, eventually, host. This experience led  to roles on several locally produced shows and documentaries, as well as a small part in 2004’s The New World, starring  Colin Farrell. Her music has since been included in several  films, most notably Nuummioq, which was featured at  Sundance International Film Festival.

Thomas Blanky - Ian Hart

Ian Hart as Thomas Blanky AMC

Ice Master of Terror and long-time friend of  Francis Crozier, Thomas Blanky has the experience  to be a captain himself but prefers the thrill and challenge of battling the constant puzzle of the  Arctic ice to the social demands and shallow politics  of command. He is a resourceful, unflappable force on the expedition, who refuses to dignify any emergency with fear and trembling. When others retreat, Blanky stands his ground with a shrewd smile and twelve fantastic ideas about how to put any threat in its place.

Ian Hart began his career onstage when he was a student in Liverpool, England. Shortly after, he ventured from the theatre to the big and small screens, including a role in Neverland with Johnny Depp  and opposite Will Smith in Enemy of the State, and roles in television series such as The Bridge, Boardwalk Empire, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Bates Motel, to name a few.

Hart is best known for his role as Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and he won a Tribeca Film Festival Award for Best Actor in 2004  for his work in Blind Flight.

New episodes of The Terror will be shown at 9pm on BBC Two every Wednesday from March 3.

All 10 episodes of the The Terror season 1 are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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