In the absence of big screen movie-going experiences this awards season, streamers and studios are bringing cinemas into viewers’ homes. This weekend, Netflix is offering up its most British awards bait, The Dig, which is a cinematic take on John Preston’s 2007 novel of the same name. Based loosely on the real-life 1939 Sutton Hoo discovery, in which centuries-old remnants of a past civilisation were unearthed in a wealthy widow’s backyard, The Dig is at once rich with metaphor and emotion. Carey Mulligan plays Edith Pretty, the widow in question, who hires a local amateur archaeologist, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), to help her dig up the mysterious mounds in her backyard.
Along the way, they recruit a motley crew of helpers, including Edith’s son Robert (Archie Barnes), her cousin Rory (Johnny Flynn), and a married couple, Peggy and Stuart Piggott (Lily James and Ben Chaplin, respectively). There are also, of course, villains who swoop onto the scene in hopes of capitalising on the dig and its findings. Charles Phillips (Ken Stott), for instance, who represents the British Museum and an establishment that wants to stake a claim in that particular piece of history.
The Dig is directed by Simon Stone, with a screenplay by Moira Buffini and cinematography by Mike Eley — important to note because the film’s setting is arguably a character unto itself. Read on to learn more about each of the flick’s complex characters and the actors who bring them to life.