Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim wasn’t filled with newcomers, but it did help more audiences get to know Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi. While Kikuchi is the only half of that duo back in for the sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising, the new movie has a lot of young talent that we’ll probably be seeing for years to come. Here’s a primer on the fresh cast of Uprising.
Cailee Spaeny as Amara Namani
Mark our words: relative newcomer Cailee Spaeny will end up being the breakout talent of Uprising. She plays the prodigy mechanic and Jaeger pilot who was raised on the streets and learned how to build her own gear. Spaeny, from Springfield Missouri, has several other films in production – On the Basis of Sex, Backseat, and Bad Times at the El Royale – but only one short film credit prior to Pacific Rim Uprising. She’s also a singer, with music available on Soundcloud, iTunes, and other digital services.
Jing Tian as Liwen Shao
Jing, who plays an industrialist who wants to put drone Jaegers out on the front lines, is much more familiar to Chinese audiences than those in the States, as she has played roles on television for almost a decade. But she has shown up in several films. Jackie Chan fans might have seen Jing in Police Story 2013, and she was also in The Great Wall and Kong: Skull Island, in addition to many Chinese films. Trailers position Jing’s character as an antagonist in Uprising but we wonder if that’s really the case. Regardless, she could end up being one of the film’s most memorable players.
Adria Arjona as Jules Reyes
While we don’t know much about Adria Arjona’s role in Uprising, she was super-memorable in The Belko Experiment, where she played the assistant to the company chief, and one of the people we most wanted to survive when things went really bad at that office. She’s also got a role in the upcoming Melissa McCarthy film Life of the Party. On television, Arjona has been seen in Emerald City, but even more exciting is her role in the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel Good Omens, coming soon from Amazon.
Karan Brar as Suresh
19-year old Karan Brar has already got three Diary of a Wimpy Kid films under his belt, and he’s done voice work for Mr. Peabody and Sherman, too. In Uprising he plays one of the cadre of new Jaeger pilot trainees. While we’re not sure what the role will ask of him, that probably means Brar will be working alongside Cailee Spaeny as her character is drawn into the life of a Jaeger pilot.
We don’t have Shyrley Rodriguez’s character name but we do know she’s one of the Pac Pacific Defense Corps cadets. Rodriguez (above right) debuted in the Netflix series The Get Down, from creator Baz Luhrmann. She won that role right after graduating from Rutgers University. Her upcoming films include Wheels, Set it Up, and Brighton Beach, which also stars UK musician FKA Twigs.
Mackenyu as Ryiochi
Another cadet in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps alongside Suresh, Amara, and others, we’ve glimpsed Ryiochi in trailers but can’t tell you much about him. But there’s plenty to know about rising Japanese star Mackenyu. First up, he’s the son of Sonny Chiba, the Japanese action master. Mackenyu was raised in Los Angeles and only began his acting career a few years ago – most of his work so far has been in Japanese film and TV, with roles in Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future and the three Chihayafuru films.
Ivanna Sakhno as Viktoriya Malikova
20-year old Sakho (above left) hails from Ukraine, where she was a cast member of the first-ever Ukranian sitcom. In Uprising she appears to be set for a rivalry of sorts with Cailee Spaeny’s character, though we don’t know details about how that begins, much less how it would resolve. Malikova developed a career on TV in Ukraine, with her first feature film role landing in 2013, in Ivan the Terrible. She’ll be in The Spy Who Dumped Me this August, alongside stars Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon.
Pacific Rim Uprising opens on March 23.