God on Trial
Mordechai Baumgarten Schmidt
Akiba Moche Idek Kuhn Lieble Jacques Ezra The Blockaltester

Meet the characters and cast of God on Trial

Click on any of the major characters in God on Trial to learn more about how they fit in the story, and also about the careers of the actors who portray them.


The son of Kuhn, Mordechai looks after his father, more anxious for his wellbeing than his own. He is appointed Inquisitor of the Court, which he accepts despite his father's obvious distress.

Played by:
Rupert Graves

Born in an English seaside town, Rupert Graves didn't thrive in school, so he took a variety of jobs — from circus clown to shoe factory worker. He received early recognition for his roles in the films A Room With a View and Maurice. Graves is perhaps best known to Masterpiece audiences for his role in The Forsyte Saga. In addition to his film work, Graves has appeared on stage in England in plays ranging from Torch Song Trilogy to Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, and has also appeared on Broadway in Closer. On film, Graves has also been seen in A Handful of Dust, Damage, The Madness of King George and Intimate Relations among others.


Baumgarten, a sophisticated and successful professor of Criminal Law in Berlin, is appointed Head of Court in the trial. He is brisk, confident, and takes control naturally.

Played by:
Stellan Skarsgård

Born in Sweden, Stellan Skarsgård began acting at a young age, and appeared on Swedish television as a teenager. Skarsgård later joined the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, performing in a variety of stage roles. On film, Skarsgård is well known for roles in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Breaking the Waves, Good Will Hunting, Amistad, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. He was recently seen in the film Mamma Mia! with fellow God on Trial star Dominic Cooper.


Schmidt is a well-educated Rabbi, a kind and intelligent man with a strong faith in God. Appointed the Father of the Court, he takes a leadership role and is very fair and gentle.

Played by:
Stephen Dillane

London native Stephen Dillane pursued a career in journalism before turning to acting and graduating from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Dillane has had notable theatrical performances in Hamlet, a one-man version of Macbeth, and The Real Thing, for which he won a Tony award for best actor. On Masterpiece, Dillane has been seen in The Cazalets, Anna Karenina and The Rector's Wife. Film appearances include Welcome to Sarajevo, The Hours and Hamlet with Mel Gibson. Dillane was recently seen in the television miniseries John Adams.


Akiba is an old-fashioned Rabbi from the countryside. He is a Melamed, or religious teacher, and a healer who has committed holy writings to memory. Although quiet for most of the trial, when Akiba eventually speaks, everyone is drawn to him.

Played by:
Antony Sher

A native of South Africa, Sher moved to England in 1968 and studied acting at the Webber Douglas Academy after being rejected from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Sher is highly regarded for his extensive theatrical work in plays such as Macbeth, Kean, Richard III and Stanley (the later two which earned him Laurence Olivier awards). He played Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi in the one-man television and stage show Primo. Sher has appeared on Masterpiece in Her Majesty Mrs. Brown, The Jury, and The Moonstone. In addition to his gifts as an actor, Sher is an avid painter and a prolific writer of novels, memoirs and plays. In 2000, Sher was made a Knight of the British Empire. In 2005, Sher and Royal Shakespeare Company Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran became one of the first couples in Britain to enter into a civil partnership.


Moche is Polish, young, angry and on the point of collapse. He lacks respect for any of the older inmates. He is insecure and tries to ingratiate himself with the doctors.

Played by:
Dominic Cooper

Dominic Cooper grew up in East London and trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His breakthrough role was on stage in Alan Bennett's The History Boys as Dakin. In 2006, he reprised this role for the film adaptation of the play. On Masterpiece, Cooper has been seen in Sense and Sensibility, Jericho and Warrior Queen. On film, Cooper has recently appeared in Mamma Mia! and The Duchess. He will next be seen alongside Emma Thompson in the film An Education.


Idek is an idealistic and articulate student, a scholar who knows a great deal about Jewish history.

Played by:
Blake Ritson

Blake Ritson is known for his portrayal of Edmund Bertram in Masterpiece's Mansfield Park. Other Masterpiece performances include: Breaking the Code, Shooting the Past and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. Ritson has a passion for making short films and a flair for folk music. He can be heard playing banjolele on fellow actor Douglas Hodge's album Cowley Road Songs.


Kuhn is Mordechai's father, a pious older man. He is angry with his son, but as the end is near, his love for Mordechai becomes more apparent. Kuhn appears physically pained by what he sees as blasphemies in the unfolding debate.

Played by:
Jack Shepherd

Jack Shepherd studied fine art before going to the Central School of Speech and Drama. Shepherd has had a prolific career in the theater as an actor, director and playwright. On television, Shepherd is known for his appearance in the British series Wycliffe, and has been seen on Masterpiece in The Jury and Warrior Queen. On film, Shepherd has been seen in Charlotte Gray and The Golden Compass among others. In addition to his other talents, Shepherd is a jazz musician. His daughter Catherine Shepherd is an actress.


Lieble is a quiet man who keeps to himself until near the end of the trial. He isn't keen at first to share his story, but it becomes clear that he is a traumatized young father, bewildered by what is going on.

Played by:
Eddie Marsan

From a working class London background, Eddie Marsan was a printer before turning to acting. Marsan has been seen in a variety of films from 21 Grams and Vera Drake to Mission Impossible III and Hancock. He has appeared on Masterpiece in The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries and Second Sight, and will next be seen on Masterpiece classic in Little Dorrit in 2009.


A teacher and physicist, Jacques talks at great length about the galaxy and the university.

Played by:
François Guétary

A native of France, François Guétary's family is also involved in the entertainment industry — two parents who are actors, and a sister who is a writer/director. With a range of French and American roles to his credit, Guétary may be recognizable to American audiences for appearances in the television shows Alias and Lost.


Ezra is Polish, a devout father of young children. During the trial, Ezra describes how he lost his mother to the Germans.

Played by:
René Zagger

London native René Zagger has had recurring roles in a number of British television series, including Grange Hill, Up the Garden Path and The Bill.

The Blockaltester (Or "Block Elder")

Selected from the inmates to keep control in the blockhouse, the Blockaltester is despised within the block. He is a prisoner with authority, powerful in the day-to-day running of the blockhouse as he distributes soup. He is scornful of the inmates and their beliefs.

Played by:
Lorcan Cranitch

Irish actor Lorcan Cranitch may be familiar to Masterpiece audiences for his role in Parnell and the Englishwoman. He has also had recurring roles in a number of British television series including Cracker, Ballykissangel, The Palace and The Bill. He has also been seen in the American series Rome.

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