Here’s an extensive list of the key cast and characters of Emma Stone’s latest film, Poor Things.
In simple terms, the story is a unique twist on Frankenstein’s monster, exploring how a scientist named Godwin Baxter brings Bella Baxter to life after a twisted experiment.
While the circumstances might seem grim, it actually leads to Stone’s character going on a wildly insane, raunchy, and immensely interesting journey of self-discovery.
Cast and Characters of Poor Things
Emma Stone - Bella Baxter
After Godwin Baxter conducts an ethically questionable experiment, Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter is born, becoming the product of an infant mind growing inside the body of a recently deceased woman. This equates to a child developing inside an already fully formed human.
This situation means Bella Baxter is a blank slate, letting her experience and adapt to the world in ways unlike anyone else. Her viewpoint on everything around her is singularly unique—one that expands exponentially after she’s able to escape the confines of Godwin’s house.
In a press release for the film, Stone described the role as “incredibly freeing” getting to explore how Bella is “not raised by a society that is putting these confines on women:”
"I was so excited and scared for all the right reasons. Bella doesn’t have any shame or trauma or even a backstory. She's not raised by a society that is putting these confines on women. That can be incredibly freeing, and there is really no research you can do for something like this. Bella draws things from the men she meets, from the women she meets, from the environment she's in, from what she's eating. She's like a sponge."
Stone is known for her roles in Easy A, La La Land, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and more. She can currently be seen on Showtime’s The Curse television show.
Mark Ruffalo - Duncan Wedderburn
Mark Ruffalo brings to life the savvy and accomplished lady’s man, Duncan Wedderburn. While he’s metaphorically been around the block, he soon finds himself taking a notable interest in Bella Baxter.
While the two hit it off quickly, he’s best known as the first proper stepping stone for Bella to experience what the world has to offer.
Ruffalo described Duncan as “such a narcissist” in a press release, adding descriptive adjectives like “self-centered” and “misogynistic:”
"Duncan is such a narcissist. He’s so self-centered and misogynistic, but tries to come off like he’s something of a liberal. I wasn’t sure if I could play such a character – but I really took to it like a fish to water in the end."
Most fans will know Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, across several Marvel Cinematic Universe projects. He’s also starred in movies such as The Adam Project, Spotlight, and The Kids Are All Right.
Willem Dafoe - Godwin Baxter
Godwin Baxter, played by the legendary Willem Dafoe, is a brilliant but tormented scientist. He has a strong dedication to pushing the bounds of his science, pointedly ignoring any and all societal rules or expectations.
Many of Baxter’s issues likely stem from the abuse by his father growing up, who subjected his child to terrible experiments.
Dafoe noted in a press release how “[he] probably will never have another [role] like [Godwin Baxter]:”
"The role of Baxter is a very special one. I can’t think of another one like it, and I probably will never have another like it... Baxter also comes from an experiment, and he’s quite literally scarred by what his father has done to him... The story is a great spin on the Frankenstein tale because Bella is the beautiful one, and the Doctor is stitched together from experiments."
Dafoe appears in next year’s Beetlejuice 2 and previously played large roles in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, The Lighthouse, and Death Note.
Ramy Youssef - Max McCandles
Ramy Youssef is Max McCandles, a student of Godwin Baxter who the scientist lets into his home. It doesn’t take long for Max to start to be attracted to Bella, though he certainly has lots of questions about what Willem Dafoe’s character has done with his experiments.
In a press release for the movie, Youssef revealed how “there is a rawness about Bella which attracts Max” and that Emma Stone’s character gets to “retain that human curiosity that we all had at a young age:”
"There is a rawness about Bella which attracts Max. She really speaks to something that any person is probably trying to regain. She is a modern woman in this time, and she gets to retain that human curiosity that we all had at a young age. It really shows the multitude of what is thrown at women from a young age. Bella gets to experience that from a different vantage point and then pick it apart and demolish it."
Suzy Bemba - Toinette
Suzy Bemba’s Toinette is a friend of Bella Baxter, as the leading character learns what life is like on her own while getting her first job at a brothel.
Bemba can also be spotted in Everything Is Well, Homecoming, and Drift.
Jerrod Carmichael - Harry Astley
Harry Astley is one of the first people Bella Baxter meets after arriving on the Ocean Liner with Mark Ruffalo’s Duncan. Jerrod Carmichael’s character offers a unique view of life, believing everyone is inherently cruel.
Carmichael confirmed in a press release for the film that “Harry is a cynic” who shows Bella “mankind’s inhumanity to poverty:”
“Harry is a cynic, through his life and career, his viewpoint has narrowed, which is why the scenes with Bella work so well; the juxtaposition of her naivety to his prejudices… When he takes Bella to Alexandria, she is confronted for the first time by mankind’s inhumanity to poverty.”
Carmichael produced and starred in The Carmichael Show from 2015-2017.
Hanna Schygulla - Martha Von Kurtzroc
Alongside Harry Astley, Hanna Schygulla’s Martha Von Kurtzroc is another acquaintance that Bella Baxter makes on the Ocean Liner, one who is fiercely independent and extremely wealthy.
Speaking in a press release, Schygulla shared how she “see[s] Martha as an outstanding flower in the whole garden of existence:”
"I see Martha as an outstanding flower in the whole garden of existence that this film covers. She is a Women’s Libber and emancipated. She’s wealthy and can afford to have certain thoughts and ideologies because she’s never been dependent on a man."
Schygulla also plays roles in The Marriage of Maria Braun, The Edge of Heaven, Lil Marleen, and The Delta Force.
Kathryn Hunter - Swiney
Swiney is the leader of the brothel in Paris that Bella Baxter stumbles into. While she’s strict, Swiney takes a liking to her new worker.
Kathryn Hunter said in a press release for Poor Things that at the end of the day, Swiney “wants to possess this extraordinary creature” that is Bella.
“Swiney is outrageous, both cruel and heart-warming… On the face of it, she’s the horrid Madame of the Brothel, but then she falls for Bella, and she wants to possess this extraordinary creature.”
Director Yorgos Lanthimos added, “She has a transactional relationship, but also she's kind of philosophizing with her, and Bella also takes something from her.”
Some of Hunter’s previous work includes Rome, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Vicki Pepperdine - Mrs. Prim
Vicki Pepperdine plays Mrs. Prim, the housekeeper at Godwin Baxter’s estate. She’s not the biggest fan of Bella Baxter, but she does take kindly to Felicity when she comes into the picture.
Pepperdine boasts an extensive resume, including We Hunt Together, Bad Education, The Windsors, and more.
Margaret Qualley - Felicity
After Bella Baxter leaves her home, Godwin Baxter doesn’t take the loss too well. He goes and conducts another experiment like the one that made Bella, leading to the creation of Margaret Qualley’s Felicity.
At the end of the day, Felicity isn’t quite as well-rounded as Bella. Her relationship with Godwin is also far different, as the scientist worked to distance himself from her in all the experiments, purposefully avoiding any emotional connections.
In a press release for the film, Margaret Quallley admitted “Felicity is a bit more stunted” and “doesn't progress in the same way that Bella does:”
"Felicity is a bit more stunted... I don't really see her having a certain way because ignorance is bliss. She doesn't progress in the same way that Bella does... It's complicated and nuanced, you take a long time to really dissect what Bella and Baxter’s relationship entails... With Felicity, it's much more cold and utilitarian."
Qualley can be seen in The Leftovers, Fosse/Verdon, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Christopher Abbott - Alfie Blessington
Christopher Abbott’s Alfie Blessington is someone who knew the person Bella Baxter was before Godwin’s experiments. Needless to say, he isn’t the best of people, and it doesn’t take Emma Stone’s character long to figure out she doesn’t want to stick around him for long.
Abbott bluntly called Alfie “a bit of a c*nt,” one who has “a lot of denial” about Bella’s entire situation:
"He’s a bit of a c*nt, generally, but he still has a heart somewhere deep down shrouded under a bunch of ice... He's very possessive in some ways, but he's been through war and has a lot of PTSD, so I do feel for him... It's probably quite jarring for Alfred because he's catching her when she's become a fully formed adult again... To him, he probably actually believes this is her, and it's some farce – there's a lot of denial happening."
The actor can also be seen in The Crowded Room, It Comes at Night, and Possessor.
Poor Things is now playing in theaters worldwide.