Know the Cast: ‘Passing’

Passing Cast - Every Performer and Character in the Netflix Movie

The Passing cast features Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga and André Holland. This info article contains minor spoilers and character details for Rebecca Hall’s 2021 Netflix movie. Check out more streaming guides in Vague Visages’ Know the Cast section.

Passing takes place in 1920s Harlem. A Black woman named Irene reunites with her childhood friend, Clare, who is now married to a racist white man and pretends to be a white woman. The female characters spend time together and discuss their hopes and dreams. As Irene observes Clare’s behavior, she reassesses her own life as mother, wife and Black woman during the Harlem Renaissance. Here’s every main player in Passing, an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel.

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Passing Cast: Tessa Thompson as Irene Redfield

Passing Cast - Tessa Thompson as Irene Redfield

Character Profile: A Harlem native. She works at a printing office and feels satisfied with her married life. Irene questions her life decisions after meeting a college friend named Clare, a Black woman who pretends to be white.

Thompson’s Resume: Scarlett in When a Stranger Calls (2006), Bianca in Creed (2015), Valkyrie in the MCU (2017-), Charlotte Hale in Westworld (2016-20), Josie Radek in Annihilation (2018)

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Passing Cast: Ruth Negga as Clare Bellew

Passing Cast - Ruth Negga as Clare Bellew

Character Profile: Irene’s childhood friend who passes as white. She’s a New York City socialite with a daughter named Margery and a racist husband named John. Clare implies that she’s content with her existence but secretly has an exit plan ready if she ever gets caught by her husband.

Negga’s Resume: Charlie in Breakfast on Pluto (2005), Raina in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-18), Mildred in Loving (2016), Tulip O’Hare/Lucy in Preacher (2016-19), Helen Lantos in Ad Astra (2019)

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Passing Cast: André Holland as Brian Redfield

Passing Cast - André Holland as Brian Redfield

Character Profile: Irene’s husband. He befriends Clare and defends her when a white author questions her morals. Brian clashes with his wife as she becomes increasingly agitated.

Holland’s Resume: Wendell Smith in 42 (2013), Andrew Young in Selma (2014), Dr. Algernon Edwards in The Knick (2014-15), Kevin in Moonlight (2016), Elliot Udo in The Eddy (2020)

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Passing Cast: Bill Camp as Hugh Wentworth

Passing Cast - Bill Camp as Hugh Wentworth

Character Profile: An author and New York City socialite. He wonders about the looks of “fantastically handsome” Black men. Hugh speaks negatively of Clare during a restaurant scene.

Camp’s Resume: Radburn in 12 Years a Slave (2013), Dennis Box in The Night Of  (2016), Detective Garrity in Joker (2019), Mr. Shaibel in The Queen’s Gambit (2020), Harry English in American Rust (2021)

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Passing Cast: Alexander Skarsgård as John Bellew

Passing Cast - Alexander Skarsgård as John Bellew

Character Profile: Clare’s husband. He meets face to face with Irene and believes that she is white. John makes racist statements and aggressively confronts Clare upon learning the truth about her ethnicity.

Skarsgård’s Resume: Eric Northman in True Blood (2008-14), Michael in Melancholia (2011), John Clayton/Tarzan in The Legend of Tarzan (2016), Perry Wright in Big Little Lies (2017-19), Gadi Becker in The Little Drummer Girl (2018)

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The Passing cast also includes Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Taking of Pelham 123, Wu-Tang: An American Saga), Antoinette Crowe-Legacy (Impatient, Godfather of Harlem), Justus Davis Graham (New Amsterdam, Wu-Tang: An American Saga), Ethan Barrett (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Ashley Ware Jenkins (Green Flake).

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.