The Wonder, which is now available on Netflix, features a mesmerising performance from the acting force that is Florence Pugh. But who else is in the cast?
From a middle-aged divorcee in 2013’s Gloria, a bereaved trans woman in 2017’s Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman and two Orthodox Jewish women in love in 2018’s Disobedience, Chilean director Sebastian Lelio has long championed strong women in his films.
His latest film The Wonder, which is now available on Netflix, is no different, following English nurse Lib (Florence Pugh) as she’s hired to spend two weeks in an Irish village in 1862 and observe what many believe to be a religious miracle: an 11-year-old girl (Kíla Lord Cassidy) who claims not to have eaten for months but remains healthy.
What follows is a gripping psychological thriller as Lib battles patriarchy and religious fervour to get to the bottom of the mystery. Read our 4-star review of The Wonder here.
The Wonder is an adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s 2016 novel of the same name. Talking to RadioTimes.com, Donoghue, who adapted her novel for the big screen alongside Alice Birch and Lelio, revealed the most “nerve-racking” casting.
“I think what’s extraordinary is that we have such a consistently strong team,” she said of the movie’s cast. “People like David Wilmot and Dermot Crowley, Brían F O’Byrne – it’s just ended up as a showcase of the best of Irish acting talent. And what a breakthrough with young Kíla.”
She continued: “She was the one we were nerve-racked about – would we find a kid – because I’ve done this twice now – a film that absolutely depends on the magic trick of finding the one kid that could do it and in both cases, The Wonder and Room, we only found one. It’s not like we had any other options. I was so relieved we found her.”
Florence Pugh plays Lib Wright
Who is Lib Wright? An English nurse who’s invited to rural Ireland in 1862 to observe a “fasting girl”, Anna, who claims not to have eaten for months. While Anna’s parents and many of the town’s all-male committee believe the child’s situation is a religious miracle, Lib is firmly in science’s corner and adamant it’s trickery. However, proving so, it soon turns out, is more difficult than it initially seems…
Speaking to RadioTimes.com about the challenges of portraying Lib, Pugh revealed dialling back her character’s resistance to the religious delusion around her was both “frustrating” and “exciting”.
“For the first time ever in any role that I’ve done, I actually couldn’t be loud about it,” she explained. “I had to be quiet about it, and that was what made it really, really exciting and fascinating to do. Her push back was infuriating but it couldn’t be done in a loud aggressive way that we can do now, and that was exciting for me to do.”
What else has Florence Pugh been in? Pugh’s breakthrough role came in the 2016 film Lady Macbeth. She has since emerged as one of the most well-known acting forces in the world and gone on to star in films including Fighting with My Family, Midsommar, and Little Women. For the latter, she bagged an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. In 2021, she made her MCU debut as Yelena Belova, appearing in both Black Widow and Hawkeye. Most recently she appeared opposite Harry Styles in Don’t Worry Darling.
Niamh Algar as Kitty O’Donnell
Who is Kitty O’Donnell? The family’s live-in servant, who breaks the fourth wall.
Talking about how she approached the meta element of the film, Algar told RadioTimes.com in an exclusive interview: “It was sort of sitting down with Sebastian and figuring out what it was he wanted from that character, someone who is sort of introducing the story but is also in it.”
She continued: “It’s that idea of allowing the audience to be drawn into the story, we’re giving them a wink and going: ‘We’re telling the story, stories are used in order to make sense of this world and inviting you in in the hope that you’re going to believe in the characters and the story.’
“And then we’re in the story and every now and then, we see Kitty come up and it’s almost like she’s watching everything. She’s watching Florence’s character, and there’s that intrigue, because for Kitty, language is something that she struggles with because she can’t read and so therefore I think stories must have been quite difficult because she has to be told them, and she’s wanting to learn to read and read the stories for herself, because that’s a powerful tool for someone.”
What else has Niamh Algar been in? Algar’s career has been going from strength to strength in recent years. She is known for her roles in Channel 4 drama Deceit, Pure, The Virtues, Raised by Wolves, MotherFatherSon, and The Bisexual.
Kíla Lord Cassidy plays Anna O’Donnell
Who is Anna O’Donnell? An 11-year-old girl living in post-famine Ireland who claims not to have eaten a morsel of food since her birthday four months ago – and to be surviving off “manna from heaven”.
What else has Kíla Lord Cassidy been in? Kíla, the real-life daughter of The Wonder star Elaine Cassidy, starred in the 2020 thriller The Doorman, alongside Ruby Rose, at the age of nine. She also has an uncredited role in the 2019 movie Mrs Lowry and Son, in which she appeared as a street girl.
Tom Burke as Will Byrne
Who is Will Byrne? A rather sceptical journalist who hangs about the local pub to cover the story for the Daily Telegraph. A local who moved to London, Will has his own tragic story after the family he left behind starved to death.
What else has Tom Burke been in? Viewers will recognise Burke from his role as Athos in The Musketeers and roguish Dolokhov in War & Peace. Other notable appearances have been in The Hour, Great Expectations and Utopia. He also starred as the titular private detective in the BBC’s adaptation of JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike novels.
Elaine Cassidy plays Rosaleen O’Donnell
Who is Rosaleen O’Donnell? Anna’s mother. She is wary of Lib as an outsider and insistent that there is no trickery at play.
What else has Elaine Cassidy been in? Cassidy has had leading roles in a number of dramas over the years, including horror-thriller Harper’s Island, police corruption drama The Ghost Squad, BBC One’s The Paradise, Channel 4’s No Offence and Channel 5’s Intruder. Most recently, she portrayed Louisa de Clermont in Sky One’s fantasy hit A Discovery of Witches.
Josie Walker as Sister Michael
Who is Sister Michael? A nearly silent nun brought in to share shifts with Lib so that the child is never alone.
What else has Josie Walker bee in? Walker’s TV credits include Call the Midwife, Waterloo Road, and Holby City. Walker is also an Olivier-nominated musicals star, with credits including Cats, The Beautiful Game, Evita, Matilda the Musical, and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Toby Jones as Dr McBrearty
Who is Dr McBrearty? Anna’s physician who helps set up and manage the watch. He believes that Anna is a medical anomaly/miracle, and has a theory that she could be living off light.
What else has Toby Jones been in? Acclaimed actor Toby Jones has appeared in franchises including the Harry Potter series as Dobby the house elf. He has also appeared in films Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Empire of Light. On TV he has starred in Doctor Who, Detectorists, Wayward Pines and Sherlock.
Ciarán Hinds as Father Thaddeus
Who is Father Thaddeus? The local priest, Father Thaddeus wants to believe that Anna’s situation is a religious miracle.
What else has Ciarán Hinds been in? Hinds has starred in films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Frozen, Belfast, Justice League, The Phantom of the Opera and Munich. His TV credits include Game of Thrones, Shetland and The Terror.
Caolán Byrne as Malachy O’ Donnell
Who is Malachy O’ Donnell? Anna’s father.
What else has Caolán Byrne been in? Viewers will recognise Byrne from a number of TV shows including Bloodlands, Doctor Who, Das Boot, Britannia and Porridge.