While a few well-known stars helm the cast, the film's very premise lends itself to young upcoming talents looking to break out in one of their first major roles. That doesn't mean audiences won't recognize a few of the actors, both young and old, from their roles in recent major projects.
It would be difficult to argue that Ethan Hawke isn't the most noteworthy member of the cast, having starred in both acclaimed dramas such as First Reformed (2018), as well as popular blockbusters such as The Purge (2013).
Hawke plays the menacing serial killer dubbed The Grabber, one of his first real forays into antagonistic roles, which seems to be a pattern for the actor in 2022, as he recently entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a villain, appearing as the main antagonist, cult leader Arthur Harrow, in the first season of the extremely popular Disney+ original series Moon Knight (2022 - ). Hawke was initially hesitant to take on such scarier antagonistic roles than he has done in the past, but The Black Phone and other recent projects have warmed him to the idea that villains are his future.
The Black Phone (2022) marks the feature film debut for Mason Thames, and it is certainly a massive one, portraying one of the lead protagonists of the film, the kidnaped Finney. The role is not merely his silver screen introduction, but also his biggest role to date, having only a few other acting credits to his name so far in his young career.
Notably among them was his role as the young counterpart to Jared Padelecki's titular character in the second season of the television series Walker (2021 -), a CW reboot of the 1993 Walker, Texas Ranger series. The role of Finney will be unlike anything the young actor has done before, as he takes center stage as the desperate hero in a deeply intense and nerve-racking story with such massive stakes.
Joining Thames as the other lead protagonist of the film is Madeline McGraw, who will be portraying Gwen, Finney's sister who attempts to rescue him through her psychic dream powers reminiscent of a Stephen King character. McGraw has worked with Disney in numerous capacities, voicing characters in multiple Pixar films such as Cars 3 (2017) and Toy Story 4 (2019), and playing the young version of Hope Van Dyne in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018).
Most prominently, she's portrayed Zoey Campbell, one of the main characters in the Disney Channel original series Secrets of Sulphur Springs (2021 -), a mystery story revolving around the disappearance of a young girl in the 1990s. The Black Phone marks a major shift from that role for McGraw, as she goes from family-friendly thrills to full-blown horror.
Playing the abusive and alcoholic father of the two child protagonists is Jeremy Davies, most likely known to audiences for his portrayal of Daniel Faraday in the hit ABC television series Lost, first appearing during the show's fourth season premiere entitled "The Beginning of the End." His character would become very popular among fans and critics alike, and he would play a major role in the events that occurred over the later seasons.
Davies's role in The Black Phone seems to certainly be in contrast to the Faraday character, as what few qualities are known about him so far do not hint at him being particularly endearing to the audience. It remains to be seen how his volatile character will react to his children being placed in such a dangerous situation.
James Ransone is no stranger to the horror genre, having starred as the adult Eddie Kaspbrak in the supernatural blockbuster It Chapter Two (2019), and he will once again be returning to the genre with this picture. Ransone achieved his greatest notoriety, however, for his portrayal of Ziggy Sobotka in the gritty HBO crime drama The Wire when the show's second season shifted its main focus from the Baltimore drug trade on the streets to the organized crime enveloping the docks, specifically following the Sobotka family.
Despite his father, Frank, being an admired union leader of the docks, Ziggy was a continual screwup whose attempts at a criminal lifestyle often brought upon disaster. Little is known so far about Ransone's character, Max, and whether he'll have a habit of making already dire situations worse like Ziggy.
E. Roger Mitchell plays Detective Wright, one of the two detectives trying to bring Finney back home safe in the film. It's a role Mitchell is quite familiar with, having played detectives and investigators across multiple films and television series. Mitchell has also appeared in several high-profile franchises, among them The Hunger Games.
Mitchell portrayed Chaff, the winner of the 45th Hunger Games and returning tribute for the 75th event, in the first of the franchise's hit sequels. The Black Phone throws Mitchell once again into a frightening scenario where children's lives are on the line, only this time he is not a victim himself, but instead one of the few people who can bring an end to the evil brutality taking place.
Troy Rudeseal joins Mitchell as the film's other detective attempting to stop The Grabber, Detective Miller, and is also very experienced when it comes to the portrayal of law enforcement, having played many different sheriffs and detectives throughout his career.
The 2016 MacGyver series, a very successful reboot of the original 1985 series, featured Rudeseal in the season 2 episode "Cigar Cutter" in a highly inventive way regarding the classic series villain Dr. Zito, a menacing serial killer who shares some harrowing similarities to The Grabber of The Black Phone. This time around, Rudeseal finds his character in the position to stop the sadistic slayings, and will even be guided by the psychic powers of a young girl along the way.
One of the numerous young actors appearing in the film, J. Gavin Wilde shares with his fellow castmates the distinction of having portrayed the younger version of a famous actor's character in a project. For Wilde, he portrayed the younger version of Danny McBride's endlessly funny yet amoral televangelist Jesse Gemstone in the HBO series The Righteous Gemstones, appearing in the episodes "Interlude" and Interlude II."
This will be a much darker role for Wilde, stepping out of the HBO black comedy and entering a story in which his youth leaves him as a character marked for danger and death, a clear target for The Grabber and his twisted murderous ways.
Banks Repta is another young actor who has had the experience of being the younger counterpart to a major star. Repta portrayed the younger version of Tom Holland's lead character of Arvin in the 2020 film The Devil All the Time. One of Tom Holland's darkest movies, the film was a stark turn from the largely family-friendly filmography he had been doing around that time.
The Black Phone will certainly be somewhat familiar territory for Repta, once again portraying a young character living in a dark and dangerous world, especially with the deeply unsettling Grabber on the loose attempting to kidnap and murder so many innocent children.
Just Beyond was an original supernatural anthology series from Disney+, based on the Boom! Studios graphic novels of the same name by R.L. Stine. With each episode following a different story and cast of characters, the anthology provided a huge opportunity for a wide array of young actors to star in stories filled with both horror and comedy.
Fitzgerald was one of these young actors, appearing in the episode "Standing Up for Yourself" as Hudson, the mischievous sidekick to the town bully, Trevor Larkin. Fitzgerald's role was much more comedic than frightening, and his character steered clear of any of the supernatural elements on display. That will be a change here as Fitzgerald's character inhabits a much more serious story where there is little room for laughs.