The Cast Of 'Mercy Street' Brings TV, Film, & Theater Experience To A Civil War Drama
PBS wants to give viewers a reason to keep its channel on after Downton Abbey ends on Sunday nights with its new miniseries Mercy Street. With a ridiculous amount of notable actors in the series, the cast of Mercy Street will easily have you intrigued to keep watching. Like Downton, Mercy Street is a historical drama, but unlike Downton, the six-part series takes place in America during the Civil War.
Mercy Street focuses on life in the Green family hotel, which has been turned into a hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia (that location is sure to excite some The Walking Dead fans). The series follows two nurses in the Mansion House Hospital, Mary Phinney and Emma Green, who have very different ideologies about the Civil War since Mary is from the North and Emma is the daughter of the southern hotel-turned-hospital's owner.
The show, produced by Ridley Scott, features a large cast containing stars of TV, film, and Broadway, as well as well-known character actors. Based on a true story, the six-part miniseries starts its run on PBS on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 10 p.m., so here's a who's who of the cast.
One of the main characters on Mercy Street, Doctor Jedediah Foster, is played by the one and only Ted Evelyn Mosby — aka Josh Radnor from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Dr. Jed Foster prefers to use modern medicine to care for patients and has conflicted feelings toward the Union because of his own wealthy, slave-owning past. Besides HIMYM, Radnor is a stage actor with credits including The Graduate and Disgraced, and he has written, directed, and starred in the indie films Happythankyoumoreplease and Liberal Arts.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
As the new head nurse of Mansion House Hospital, Mary Phinney is a New Englander who clashes with many characters in the series due to her abolitionist views. Mary Elizabeth Winstead portrays the nurse and though she has been on TV before, she is best known for her eclectic film choices. She was the dream girl in the Michael Cera film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, an actress in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, Bruce Willis' daughter in Live Free of Die Hard, and Mary Todd Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
McKinley Belcher III
McKinley Belcher III portrays Samuel Diggs, a free black man who works at the hospital and has gained knowledge of medical practices. For fans of miniseries, Belcher will be a familiar face since he recently had a role in HBO's six-part miniseries Show Me a Hero. Most of Belcher's other acting work has been on TV with small roles in Power, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Chicago P.D., and Madam Secretary.
The oldest daughter of the Green family is portrayed by Hannah James. Emma Green is a southern belle whose eyes are opened after the Union army occupies Alexandria and she decides to become a volunteer nurse at Mansion House Hospital. James is a newcomer to the acting world, with her only other credit on IMDb being the short film Winding Lane.
Norbert Leo Butz
The Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz is moving from the stage to the small screen as an antagonist on Mercy Street, Dr. Byron Hale. As another doctor at the hospital, he butts heads with Dr. Foster since Dr. Hale is an old-school army surgeon who pursues romantic relationships with the nurses. Though he is also in Netflix's Bloodline, the two-time Tony winner Butz is best known for originating the roles of Fiyero in Wicked, Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Carl Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can, and Edward Bloom in Big Fish, all on Broadway. And if you'll excuse my fangirling, listen to the original recording of The Last Five Years if you really want to hear his incredible acting and singing range (and are in need a good cry).
As the younger sister of Emma, Alice Green is a naive character when it comes to the realities of war and ends up becoming a more vehement Confederate supporter throughout the series. The actress behind Alice should be a familiar face since AnnaSophia Robb has been making a name for herself since she was a child in films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Bridge to Terabithia. Robb was also the young Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City prequel TV series The Carrie Diaries.
L. Scott Caldwell
A TV character actor for many years, L. Scott Caldwell's most memorable television role is Rose on Lost. On Mercy Street she'll portray Belinda Gibson, the former slave, now family servant of the Greens who struggles to accept life as a free woman and continues to work for the family. Beyond Lost, Caldwell has been featured in more than 30 series and made-for-television movies, including episodes of Madam Secretary (like castmate Belcher), Criminal Minds, and Private Practice. The actress also has a successful theater career and currently has a small part in the movie Concussion.
Another legend of the stage in the cast is Donna Murphy, who portrays the matriarch of the Green family, Jane. Similar to her daughter Emma, Jane wants to hold onto the past and still supports the Confederacy, so it may be difficult to like her character on Mercy Street — kind of like when she voiced the evil Mother Gothel in Tangled. Along with winning two Tony awards (like costar Butz) for her roles as Fosca in Passion and Anna in The King and I, Murphy has been in the films Center Stage, Spider-Man 2, The Nanny Diaries, and The Bourne Legacy.
The patriarch of the wealthy Green family is James Green, Sr., portrayed by Gary Cole. After the Union army occupies Alexandria, he tries to make the best out of the situation by turning his hotel into a hospital. Cole has had an impressive career — especially when it comes to his comedic roles in films like The Brady Bunch Movie, Office Space, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Pineapple Express. Besides Mercy Street, he is also currently a part of the cast of HBO's series Veep , for which he was nominated for an Emmy.
With a robust cast of actors with backgrounds in film, TV, and theater, Mercy Street has an ensemble cast that can rival the best of them — maybe even the juggernaut Downton Abbey.
Image: Antony Platt/PBS