Meet the characters and cast of Great Expectations
Click on any of the major characters in Great Expectations to learn more about how they fit in the story, and also about the careers of the actors who portray them.
Philip Pirrup, known as Pip, is an orphan living with his kind brother-in-law, Joe Gargery, and his cruel older sister, Mrs. Joe. Joe is a blacksmith, and 11-year-old Pip's dream is to follow in Joe's footsteps and learn his trade.
Played by: Oscar Kennedy
English actor Oscar Kennedy portrayed young Nigel Slater in the film Toast, based on the bestselling book. He has appeared on British television in programs such as The Body Farm and Nemesis.
Exposure to the wealthy spinster Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter Estella stir ambitions in Pip Pirrup, known as Pip, that warp his moral compass, rendering it useless when sudden and great expectations require a true north.
Played by: Douglas Booth
Douglas Booth grew up in London, and turned to drama after struggling with dyslexia. Booth's mother and sister are both artists. He got an agent at age 15, and his first film role when he was 16. One of Booth's early jobs was alongside Masterpiece alums Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Timothy Spall (Oliver Twist) in From Time to Time, written by Downton Abbey scribe Julian Fellowes. His first lead role was as musician Boy George in the BBC production Worried About the Boy. Off screen, Booth was highlighted in a fashion advertising campaign for Burberry. He will next appear as Romeo in a new film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, also adapted by Fellowes, and LOL, alongside Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore.
The blacksmith Joe Gargery is husband to the abusive Mrs. Joe and a father figure to young Pip. He extends loyalty and generosity to deserving and undeserving alike.
Played by: Shaun Dooley
Trained at England's Arden School of Theatre, Shaun Dooley first became recognized for his work in the British television series Coronation Street and EastEnders. He has appeared extensively on stage, including productions of Marat Sade, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Summer Begins and The Glass Menagerie among others. Film credits include The Mark of Cain, Eden Lake and The Woman in Black, alongside Daniel Radcliffe. Dooley has appeared on Masterpiece in South Riding, as well as in a variety of other British television programs.
Pip's hot-tempered older sister bitterly resents the burden of caring for her orphaned brother. But when Pip is summoned to Satis House, Mrs. Joe focuses her petty ambitions on the boy who, she imagines, will "raise up" them all.
Played by: Claire Rushbrook
Claire Rushbrook is the daughter of two teachers, although her mother also trained to be an actress. In her early years, Rushbrook joined the same theater group her mother had participated in. Rushbrook attended drama school, and then spent five years working in theater. Her first big screen break came in Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies. She has been seen in a variety of British television series, including Mutual Friends and Whitechapel, alongside Masterpiece alum Rupert Penry-Jones. She was also seen in the Masterpiece contemporary production Collision, starring Douglas Henshall.
Joe's assistant at the forge is a cruel and churlish young man who feels threatened by Pip and never misses an opportunity to bully him.
Played by: Jack Roth
Jack Roth may be recognizable to Masterpiece viewers for his role in the Inspector Lewis episode The Mind Has Mountains, in which he played Jack Collins. He has appeared in other British television series including Waking the Dead and The Café.
Escaped from a prison ship, Magwitch meets Pip in the marshes, demands a file to remove his shackles, and receives a gesture of kindness he won't soon forget.
Played by: Ray Winstone
Ray Winstone has made his living as an actor for more than 35 years. He is best known for his tough guy roles, and has been seen in films such as Nil by Mouth, Sexy Beast, Beowulf, The Departed and Martin Scorcese's Hugo. Winstone has also appeared extensively on television. The son of a green grocer, Winstone was a champion boxer while in school but gave it up for acting. Winstone, who has vivid memories of seeing the David Lean version of Great Expectations as a child, has been quoted saying he's wanted to play Magwitch for many years.
Miss Havisham was jilted on her wedding day by a con man. Since then, the disturbed wealthy spinster has reveled in the decaying grandeur of Satis House, haunting the ruins of her wedding celebration in a rotting wedding gown. She adopted her daughter Estella with a single goal in mind: to avenge her heartbreak.
Played by: Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson is best known to Masterpiece viewers for her acclaimed portrayal of Lady Honoria Dedlock in another Charles Dickens adaptation — Bleak House. More recently, Anderson appeared on Masterpiece in Any Human Heart as Wallis Simpson.
She is also widely recognized as Special Agent Dana Scully in The X Files, a role that earned her Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actor Guild Awards. Film credits include The House of Mirth, The Last King of Scotland, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story and Johnny English Reborn among others. In addition to her film and television work, Anderson has appeared on stage in London's West End, in productions of A Doll's House and What the Night is For.
Born in Chicago, Anderson spent a good part of her childhood in London, during which time her father studied film production. Her family ultimately returned to the US, settling in Michigan. Anderson studied acting at DePaul University's Goodman Theater. She currently resides in England.
With Miss Havisham, the young Estella appears to have a life of wealth and culture — an aspiration and attraction for Pip.
Played by: Izzy Meikle-Small
Izzy Meikle-Small portrayed young Kathy in the film Never Let Me Go. In 2012, she will appear alongside Great Expectations co-star Ray Winstone in the film Snow White and the Huntsman.
Miss Havisham's adopted daughter Estella, a contemporary of Pip, is beautiful, composed, and precisely engineered to be heartless. Pip remains devoted to her nevertheless.
Played by: Vanessa Kirby
Born and raised in London, the middle of three children, Vanessa Kirby found her inspiration to act after seeing Vanessa Redgrave on stage in The Cherry Orchard. At 17, she applied to the British theater company Bristol Old Vic, but was told she was too young. Instead, she went to Africa for a year, working in schools and hospices. She returned to the University of Exeter before delving into her acting career. A trio of theatrical roles earned her nominations two years in a row for the Ian Charleson Award (given to British classical stage actors under the age of 30). On television, Kirby has been seen in the BBC series The Hour, and will soon appear in Labyrinth, the Ridley Scott miniseries, alongside Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown-Findlay.
The powerful and daunting London lawyer Jaggers was hired by Pip's mysterious benefactor to oversee Pip's transformation into a gentleman. Feared even at Newgate prison, Jaggers is a criminal lawyer to the worst-of-the-worst, whose moral taint he obsessively tries to wash from his hands.
Played by: David Suchet
David Suchet is best known for his iconic portrayal of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot over the course of more than 20 years and in more than 65 programs. A graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Suchet has an extensive background in theater, and in 2010 starred in a London revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons. On Masterpiece, Suchet has been seen in The Secret Agent, Henry VIII and The Way We Live Now, among others. Suchet was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2002. He is slated to appear in the film Effie, written by and starring Emma Thompson.
Wemmick is Jaggers's clerk. A cynical realist obsessed with "portable property," he keeps a warm and nurturing private life completely separate from his professional one, inaccessible to anyone who might taint it.
Played by: Paul Ritter
Paul Ritter has been seen in films such as Quantum of Solace, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Nowhere Boy. Ritter has appeared on stage in numerous productions at the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, both in London. He appeared in London's West End and on Broadway in The Norman Conquests, a role that earned him a Tony Award nomination. Other television credits include the British programs Friday Night Dinner, Vera and Land Girls.
Herbert, a relation of Miss Havisham, was cut off from his wealthy family because of his intention to marry Clara Barley. Hired to be Pip's roommate and companion, he quickly becomes his loyal friend.
Played by: Harry Lloyd
Actor Harry Lloyd made his debut opposite Daniel Radcliffe in Masterpiece's David Copperfield, and later appeared in Goodbye Mr. Chips. A descendent of Charles Dickens, Lloyd studied English at Oxford, where he naturally wrote his thesis on Charles Dickens. Lloyd's career hasn't been limited to classic dramas. Lloyd recently appeared in The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep, Jane Eyre alongside Mia Wasikowska, and the TV series Game of Thrones. He's been seen on stage in A View From the Bridge and The Little Dog Laughed among others.