The Voices of His Dark Materials' Daemons and Animals Have Been Revealed

The voice of everyone’s favorite warrior polar bear Iorek Byrnison has been revealed.
The voice of everyone’s favorite warrior polar bear Iorek Byrnison has been revealed.
Photo: HBO

In the world of His Dark Materials, there aren’t just humans milling about—there’s the magical world of daemons, spiritual companions just as vital to its story as their human counterparts are. Now, HBO’s lifted the lid on some of the actors lending their voice to the adaptation’s take on these mythical beings.


One of the many things that makes the world of His Dark Materials so special is that everyone has a daemon. A daemon is, basically, a physical representation of someone’s soul in the form of an animal. It’s your best friend, your conscience, and an actual part of you. Daemons are hugely important characters in the story and now, we know who will be providing the voices to some key ones, as well as another large cast member.

His Dark Materials is coming to HBO later this year and, on its official Twitter account, the following cast members were announced:

  • Joe Tandberg voices Iorek Byrnison, the large, powerful polar bear who plays an important part in Lyra’s (Dafne Keen) story.
  • Cristela Alonzo voices Hester, the arctic hare daemon of Lee Scoresby, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda. (At Comic-Con, Miranda revealed his character is introduced singing a duet with his daemon, so Alonzo sings!)
  • Kit Connor voices Pantalaimon, Lyra’s daemon, who can change shape at will—because daemons don’t actually settle in their final form until the human they’re bonded with hits puberty. Pan, as Lyra calls him, is one of the main characters of the story, because of how his connection to Lyra.
  • David Suchet voices Kaisa, the goose daemon of the witch queen Serafina Pekkala (Ruta Gedmintas). Witches’ daemons are known for always taking the form of birds, and being able to fly far away from their humans—daemons normally have to stay very close, or risk excruciating pain due to their separation.
  • Finally, there’s the unnamed golden monkey daemon, Marisa Coulter (Ruth Wilson), who will have noises provided by Brian Fisher. He’s the only daemon in the series who is never heard speaking.

Here’s a thread of all their lovely faces.


Now, you may not know some of these actor’s names or faces—with the likely exception being Suchet, who is famously known for playing detective Hercule Poirot—but, if the HBO show is the hit it could be, you will. And also, it’s important to note that while these actors are providing the voices, in many cases, actual actors were on set playing the roles of the daemons—usually with some kind of puppet or prop, just so the actor had someone to bounce off of. So these roles are a true team effort, just like the relationship between human and daemon in the books.


His Dark Materials, based on the Philip Pullman books, debuts on HBO this fall.

Updated: We removed a few words many deemed a spoiler.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo. Formerly of Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and Slashfilm. AP Award-Winning Film Critic and CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.


Uh. You should probably edit the paragraph about Mrs. Coulter’s monkey, as it contains a pretty major spoiler if you haven’t read the books. It’s been a long time, but IIRC, we don’t learn that until pretty far through book 1?