Meet The Heroes And Villains Of ‘Mortal Engines’

And one of them isn’t human.

In the post-apocalyptic world of Mortal Engines, humanity lives in traction cities, giant mobile metropolises that scour the planet for whatever resources that remain, including smaller moveable towns that get in their way. In this universe, London is a superpower bent on global conquest — and destruction. Meet the five characters who will decide the fate of mankind in the must-see sci-fi blockbuster from Peter Jackson…

Thaddeus Valentine


He’s played by Hugo Weaving

What’s his story? He’s the chief historian and scientist — and resident baddie — of London, obsessed with procuring old, dangerous technologies and weaponising them. “[Valentine is] a romantic, heroic man that everyone knows, but he is also an outsider to London and feels like a loner,” says Weaving who last worked with Peter Jackson in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. “He is an adventurer, very independent, highly intelligent and quick-witted. But he also has many complexities. Those, as well as his backstory, play out as the film progresses. We then get to see a much darker side of him.”

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Hester Shaw


She’s played by Hera Hilmar

What’s her story? She’s the young lady with an axe to grind with Valentine whom she blames for her mother’s death as well as that scar on her face. “Hester is such a cool, compelling character in every way,” says the Icelandic actress who had small roles in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina and the TV series Da Vinci’s Demons. “I love her fierceness and how unapologetic she is, but she is still looking for something, and missing something. Hester is an angry woman with a purpose, willing to lose everything to right the wrongs done to her loved ones.”  

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Tom Natsworthy


He’s played by Robert Sheenan

What’s his story? An orphan raised inside London, he works as the apprentice at the London museum. But a chance meeting with Hester draws him into her revenge plot, turning his world upside down. “Tom and Hester are two people who endure great adversity and are chalk and cheese, but they are forced together and an inadvertent love story develops,” says the Irish actor who starred on the BBC sci-fi series Misfits. “Hera’s and my job have been mapping that love story. People have to attach to the human beings as much as the excitement. This story has to be anchored in humanity.”

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Anna Fang


She’s played by Jihae

What’s her story? She’s a pirate and the leader of the Anti-Tractionist League, a group that’s not a big fan of the traction cities’ destructive way of life. “Basically, Anna Fang is the Han Solo of this movie,” says the South Korea-born singer-multimedia artist, who made her acting debut on Ron Howard-produced National Geographic series Mars, of her outlaw character. “She is a badass, ruthless, fearless leader with a lot of compassion for the oppressed.” And what’s Han Solo without his Millennium Falcon? Here, Anna Fang’s ride is the Jenny Haniver, a sleek airship she built herself.

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He’s played by Stephen Lang

What’s his story? Actually, he’s more of an ‘it’, a half-human, half-droid warrior known as the Stalker. The cyborg adopted Hester when he, er, it found the scarred young girl left for dead by Valentine. Lang, the villain star of Avatar, played the nearly three-metre tall Shrike via motion-capture and based his performance the movements of the praying mantis and, of all things, a ballet he saw online. “I was looking at swans and what came up on YouTube was Swan Lake. It was Rudolf Nureyev dancing Swan Lake. And I began to watch him, and I began to see Shrike [and] the way he moved… When a ballet dancer moves, he doesn’t move his arms — he looked like this folded bird. When you think about it, it’s incredibly graceful and at the same time, there’s something slightly robotic about it as well, which is kind of right in the wheelhouse of this character.”

Mortal Engines opens in cinemas Dec 6. 

Photos: UPI Media 

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