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SYFY WIRE His Dark Materials

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in His Dark Materials is the most perfect casting of all time

By Brian Silliman
Andrew Scott and Phoebe Waller-Bridge with Osprey

This is a casting love story. 

If someone were to give voice to a very personal part of your own soul, that person would have to have some serious significance to you. The connection, for lack of a better way to say it, might even be "hot." This is the case for actor Andrew Scott, who has just had Phoebe Waller-Bridge re-enter his artistic life in the most ingenious way. 

Scott snuck into Season 1 of His Dark Materials playing Colonel John Parry, and he will be a major player in Season 2. In Philip Pullman’s original books, he is from Lyra’s World, and his daemon (a physical part of his soul, in the world of His Dark Materials) takes the form of an osprey. During the His Dark Materials panel at Comic-Con@Home, it was revealed that Parry’s osprey daemon will be voiced by none other than Waller-Bridge. 

This may be the most perfect casting trick ever pulled. 

In Pullman’s writing (and in the series), a daemon is an externalized part of one’s soul, and it takes the form of an animal. The bond is sacred and precious. It can also be revealing. As Pullman tweeted in a recent Q&A: “Your daemon does reveal something about you, but perhaps not in an obvious way.” 

What does Waller-Bridge giving voice to Scott’s osprey reveal then? In terms of the drama of the series, we’ll have to wait and see. In terms of behind-the-scenes fun, and pure wink-nudge casting cheek? It’s the stuff that dreams are made on, especially if you’re a fan of Fleabag Season 2. If you aren't, then, um, be one. 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterful series brought Scott in for Season 2, as a character who is almost always referred to as “Hot Priest.” He was described that way because he was a priest, and he was hot. Waller-Bridge’s character had the hots for him, he had the hots for her, and the entire season sizzled and steamed with their chemistry. They had tons of chemistry, I should add, despite the rather large obstacle of him being a priest. Not to overstate the point, but their work on that series might just be the most perfect work of art ever created by humankind. Angels wept when watching, wishing that they could create something so divine. (I'm kind of a fan.)

Could there possibly be a better choice of someone to give voice to a very personal (and possibly revealing) part of the soul of John Parry, played by Scott? He built the reveal up on the Comic-Con@Home panel, and you could tell it was because he knew full well that he was dropping a rather sexy casting bomb. He revealed it by saying that his daemon would be played by “someone who is very close to me in my real life, a young performer and writer called Phoebe Waller-Bridge.”

“I’m really thrilled about that because it’s all about companionship and friendship and loyalty, and that’s what I feel about Phoebe in real life,” he added. 

Fans of Fleabag will naturally think of Hot Priest when they look at Scott in this series (Sherlock fans may still see Moriarty; this guy has the goods), but now? It’s a full-on Fleabag reunion, and it will illustrate the bond between humans and daemons like never before, to say nothing about the meta connection. They are using the bond and history between two actors who really (really) click with each other to ruin us all. Here for it. 

The thing that truly puts this casting over the top? His Dark Materials is a story of multiple worlds and countless realms. One of them is our own, where our daemons rest within us. Scott's character crosses between, so when he's in our world, Waller-Bridge still resides within his soul. 

Within Pullman’s multiple worlds, anything is possible. John Parry had plenty of adventures, so who’s to say that he hasn't used the subtle knife to create a doorway that led to a televised world where he became Hot Priest, and had a doomed-from-the-start love affair with Phoebe Waller-Bridge? Maybe the affair had such an impact on him that his daemon actually shifted, something that daemons do not do once they’ve settled form. 

The fanfiction almost writes itself. Based on the amount of Fleabag Hot Priest fanfiction that already exists, this is going to be a banner couple of months. It’s not going to take much for fans to start rabidly shipping Parry with his own osprey daemon. Fans will ship this man with his own soul... just you wait, just you wait. 

I thought that the casting of Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy would never be topped, but this is on another level. This choice involved casting the voice of someone’s soul, a true companion that will never leave them. It hurts to be parted from your daemon — if there is too much distance between you, it is horribly painful.

Thanks to this casting, Andrew Scott and Phoebe Waller-Bridge will never be parted again. 

His Dark Materials will return for Season 2 this Fall. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.