The Man in the High Castle is an American alternative history web television series depicting a parallel universe where the Axis powers win World War II.
It was created by Frank Spotnitz and is produced by Amazon Studios, Scott Free Productions, Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd Productions, and Big Light Productions.
The series is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name.
In the parallel universe, Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan have divided the United States into the Greater Nazi Reich in the east, with New York City as its regional capital, and the Japanese Pacific States to the west, with San Francisco as the capital. These territories are separated by a neutral zone that encompasses the Rocky Mountains. The series starts in 1962 and follows characters whose destinies intertwine when they come into contact with newsreels and home movies that show Germany and Japan losing the war. The title of the series refers to the mysterious figure believed to have created the footage.
The pilot premiered in January 2015, and Amazon ordered a ten-episode season the following month which was released in November. A second season of ten episodes premiered in December 2016, and a third season was released on 05 October 2018. The fourth and final season premiered on 15 November 2019.
The series’ main setting is a parallel universe where the Axis powers have won World War II in 1946 after Giuseppe Zangara assassinated the United States President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, which creates a series of developments that include the Germans dropping an atomic bomb on Washington, D.C.
Eastern and Midwestern North America is controlled by the Greater Nazi Reich (GNR) under an ageing Führer Adolf Hitler. The colony, headed by a “Reichsmarschall of North America”, is commonly referred to as “Nazi America” or “the American Reich” and its capital is New York City.
Western North America, now part of the “Japanese Pacific States”, is occupied by the technologically less-advanced Shōwa-period Empire of Japan, which has assimilated its formerly American citizens into Japanese culture, although high-class ethnic Japanese are extremely fascinated by pre-War American culture. Japan’s Trade and Science ministers work in the Pacific States’ capital, San Francisco.
A Neutral Zone, which encompasses the Rocky Mountains, serves as a buffer zone due to Cold War-like tensions between the German and Japanese blocs. The Japanese rulers subject non-Japanese people to racial discrimination and grant them fewer rights, while the Nazis continue to hunt minorities and euthanize the physically and mentally sick. The superior technology of the Germans is highlighted by the use of video phones and Concorde-like “rockets” for intercontinental travel.
Views of numerous other Earths, some where the Allies were victorious, some featuring executed Allied leaders, such as Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, some where an American resistance is doing well, are seen in the films collected by “the Man in the High Castle”.
- Alexa Davalos as Juliana Crain, a young woman from San Francisco who is outwardly happy living under Japanese control. She is an expert in aikido and is friendly with the Japanese people who live in San Francisco. As Juliana learns of The Man in the High Castle and his films, she begins to rebel.
- Rufus Sewell as John Smith, an SS Obergruppenführer, later promoted to Oberst-Gruppenführer, and then to Reichsmarschall (later Reichsführer) of North America who is investigating the Resistance in New York. He is a natural-born American who had served in the US Army Signal Corps. He initially lives a comfortable suburban life with a wife and three children but subsequently moves the family to Manhattan.
- Rupert Evans as Frank Frink (seasons 1–3), Juliana’s boyfriend at the beginning of the series. He works in a factory creating replicas of prewar American pistols, and creates original jewellery and sketches on his own time. Frank’s grandfather was Jewish, making him a target of discrimination. When Juliana vanishes just after the police kill her sister, Frank is taken into custody. Soon after, he turns against the state and works with the American Resistance.
- Luke Kleintank as Joe Blake (seasons 1–3), a new recruit to the underground American Resistance who is actually an agent working for the SS, under Obergruppenführer John Smith. He transports a reel of the forbidden film The Grasshopper Lies Heavy to the neutral Rocky Mountain States as part of his mission to infiltrate the Resistance. He meets Juliana and quickly falls in love with her, leading to him questioning his allegiance to the Reich.
- DJ Qualls as Ed McCarthy (seasons 1–3), Frank’s co-worker and friend. He closely follows politics and cares very much about Juliana and Frank’s well being. Season three reveals that Ed is gay.
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Nobusuke Tagomi (seasons 1–3), the Trade Minister of the Pacific States of America. His true loyalties are ambiguous throughout the first season.
- Joel de la Fuente as Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido, the ruthless head of the Kenpeitai stationed in San Francisco.
- Brennan Brown as Robert Childan (seasons 2–4; recurring season 1), an antique store owner who makes secret deals with Frank.
- Callum Keith Rennie as Gary Connell (season 2), leader of the West Coast Resistance movement and enforcer for Abendsen
- Bella Heathcote as Nicole Dörmer (seasons 2–3), a young Berlin-born filmmaker who crosses paths with Joe, and moves to the US in season three.
- Chelah Horsdal as Helen Smith (season 3–4; recurring seasons 1–2), John’s wife.
- Michael Gaston as Mark Sampson (season 3; recurring season 1; guest season 2), a Jewish friend of Frank’s living in San Francisco, who later relocates to the Neutral Zone.
- Jason O’Mara as Wyatt Price, also known as Liam (season 3–4), an Irishman who is a black market supplier of information to Juliana.
- Frances Turner as Bell Mallory (season 4), the leader of the Black Communist Rebellion (BCR) in San Francisco.
- Aaron Blakely as Erich Raeder (seasons 1–3), an SS-Sturmbannführer working with Smith.
- Carsten Norgaard as Rudolph Wegener (seasons 1–3), a disillusioned high-ranking Nazi official who trades secrets with Tagomi.
- Rick Worthy as Lemuel “Lem” Washington (seasons 1–4), the owner of the Sunrise Diner in Canon City and member of the Resistance.
- Camille Sullivan as Karen Vecchione (seasons 1–2), a leader of the Pacific States branch of the Resistance, later killed in a Kempeitai shoot-out.
- Lee Shorten as Sergeant Hiroyuki Yoshida (seasons 1–2), Inspector Kido’s right-hand man, killed in the bomb attack on Kempeitai headquarters.
- Arnold Chun as Kotomichi (seasons 1–4), Tagomi’s aide-de-camp, who came from the parallel world after his hometown, Nagasaki, was destroyed by an American atomic bomb.
- Bernhard Forcher as Hugo Reiss (season 1), the German ambassador to the Japanese Pacific States.
- Christine Chatelain as Laura Crothers (season 1), Frank’s sister, who is executed as a threat to force a confession from Frank.
- Hank Harris as Randall Becker (season 1), a member of the Pacific States branch of the Resistance.
- Allan Havey as the Origami Man (season 1), a Sicherheitsdienst (SD) operative sent to Canon City to eliminate members of the Resistance.
- Burn Gorman as the Marshal (season 1), a bounty hunter searching for concentration camp escapees.
- Shaun Ross as the Shoe Shine Boy (season 1), a young albino man living in Canon City.
- Rob LaBelle as Carl (season 1), a book store clerk in Canon City who is revealed to be a concentration camp escapee, David P. Frees, killed by the Marshal.
- Geoffrey Blake as Jason Meyer (season 1), a Jewish member of the Resistance.
- Daisuke Tsuji as the Crown Prince of Japan (season 1)
- Mayumi Yoshida as the Crown Princess of Japan (seasons 1, 4)
- Amy Okuda as Christine Tanaka (season 1), an office worker working in the Nippon Building.
- Neal Bledsoe as Captain Connolly (season 1), an American SS officer serving under John Smith, later revealed to be a spy working for Reinhard Heydrich.
- Hiro Kanagawa as Taishi Okamura (season 2), the leader of a Yakuza based in the Pacific States.
- Louis Ozawa Changchien as Paul Kasoura (seasons 1–2), a wealthy lawyer who collects prewar American memorabilia.
- Tao Okamoto as Betty Kasoura (season 1), Paul’s wife.
- Stephen Root as Hawthorne Abendsen / The Man in the High Castle (seasons 2–4), the head of the American antifascist resistance, creating films set in other worlds.
- Sebastian Roché as Reichsminister Martin Heusmann (seasons 2–3), Joe’s estranged father and a high-ranking member in the Nazi government.
- Cara Mitsuko as Sarah (season 2), a Japanese American Resistance member, Frank’s confidante and a survivor of the Manzanar concentration camp.
- Tate Donovan as George Dixon (season 2), Trudy’s biological father and a member of the resistance in New York City. He is killed by Juliana.
- Michael Hogan as Hagan (seasons 2–3), an ex-preacher and leader in the San Francisco Resistance.
- Tzi Ma as General Hidehisa Onoda (season 2), a leading member of the Japanese Army.
- Giles Panton as Billy Turner (season 3), a Nazi Reich American advertising executive who is working with Nicole Dörmer to ‘erase’ the memories of the former US from the minds of the citizens in the Nazi Reich America.
- Ann Magnuson as Caroline Abendsen (season 3–4), the wife of Hawthorne Abendsen.
- Laura Mennell as Thelma Harris (season 3), a closeted lesbian gossip column reporter in New York City.
- Janet Kidder as Lila Jacobs (season 3), one of the many Jews protected in a Catholic commune in the Neutral Zone.
- Jeffrey Nordling as Dr. Daniel Ryan (season 3), a Jungian therapist employed to treat Helen Smith’s grief following the death of her son Thomas.
- Akie Kotabe as Sergeant Nakamura (season 3), a Japanese-American of mixed ethnicity who works under Kido as Yoshida’s replacement.
- Tamlyn Tomita as Tamiko Watanabe (season 3–4), an Okinawan-Hawaiian painter who befriends Tagomi.
- Eijiro Ozaki as Admiral Inokuchi (season 3–4), the head of the Imperial Japanese Navy fleet stationed in the San Francisco Bay.
- James Neate as Jack (season 3), a man with whom Ed becomes romantically involved in the Neutral Zone.
- Sen Mitsuji as Toru Kido (season 4), Inspector Kido’s son who suffers from PTSD.
- Chika Kanamoto as Yukiko (season 4), Childan’s assistant.
- Clé Bennett as Elijah (season 4), Bell Mallory’s lover and one of the members of the BCR.
- David Harewood as Equiano Hampton (season 4), the leader of the BCR.
- Rachel Nichols as Martha (season 4), Helen Smith’s “wife-companion” assigned by the Reich to keep an eye on her.
- Michael Hagiwara as Okami (season 4), a Yakuza boss operating in the JPS.
- Bruce Locke as General Yamori (season 4), a hardline Japanese general in favour of continuing the occupation of the JPS.
- Eric Lange as General Whitcroft (season 4), John Smith’s second-in-command.
- Marc Rissmann as Wilhelm Goertzmann (season 4), an Obergruppenführer from Berlin.
- Rich Ting as Captain Iijima (season 4).
- John Smith’s family:
- Quinn Lord as Thomas Smith (seasons 1–4), John and Helen’s son and the eldest child. A member of the Hitler Youth, it is later revealed that he has inherited a form of muscular dystrophy (facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy) from his father’s side of the family. Learning this, he turns himself in to the Reich Sanitation Services and is euthanized. In season four, Lord plays Thomas in an alternate universe where the Axis lost WWII.
- Gracyn Shinyei as Amy Smith (season 1–4), John and Helen’s daughter.
- Genea Charpentier as Jennifer Smith (season 1–4), John and Helen’s daughter.
- Juliana Crain’s family:
- Daniel Roebuck as Arnold Walker (seasons 1–2), Juliana’s stepfather and Trudy’s father.
- Macall Gordon as Anne Crain Walker (seasons 1–2), Juliana’s mother who is still bitter about losing her husband in World War II.
- Conor Leslie as Trudy Walker (seasons 1–3), Juliana’s half-sister who is shot dead by the Kempeitai. However, she is shown alive at the end of the second season, revealed in the third season to be from an alternative timeline in which it was Juliana who died.
- Nobusuke Tagomi’s family:
- Yukari Komatsu as Michiko Tagomi (season 2), Nobusuke’s wife.
- Eddie Shin as Noriaki Tagomi (season 2), Nobusuke and Michiko’s son.
- Historical characters
- Wolf Muser as Führer Adolf Hitler (seasons 1–2), the leader of the Greater Nazi Reich.
- Ray Proscia as SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (seasons 1–2).
- Keone Young as Field Marshal Shunroku Hata (season 1).
- Kenneth Tigar as SS-Reichsführer, later Führer, Heinrich Himmler (seasons 2–4).
- Lisa Paxton as Eva Braun (season 2), Hitler’s wife, at his side on his deathbed.
- David Furr as Reichsmarschall George Lincoln Rockwell (season 3), the leader of German-controlled America, plotting against John Smith.
- William Forsythe as J. Edgar Hoover (seasons 3–4), Director of the American Reich Bureau of Investigation (the Nazi counterpart of the real-life FBI), co-plotting with Rockwell.
- John Hans Tester as Dr. Josef Mengele (seasons 3–4), the head of the studies about trans-universe travel, realising an enormous travelling machine.
- Gwynyth Walsh as Margarete Himmler (season 4), Himmler’s wife and the head of the Reich Red Cross.
- Timothy V. Murphy as SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer Adolf Eichmann (season 4).
- Hiromoto Ida as Hirohito (season 4).
The Man in the High Castle is an alternative history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Published and set in 1962, the novel takes place fifteen years after a different end to World War II, and depicts intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers – primarily, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany – as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under totalitarian rule.
- The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.
- Reported inspirations include Ward Moore’s alternative Civil War history, Bring the Jubilee (1953), classic World War II histories and the I Ching (referred to in the novel).
- There is a “novel within the novel”, an alternative history within the alternative history where the Allies defeat the Axis (though in a manner distinct from the real-life events of the war).
- Dick did plan a sequel but never took it further.
- Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, was a producer for the TV Series adaptation.
The Man in the High Castle TV Series
Production & Filming Details
- Creator(s): Frank Spotnitz (TV Series) and Philip K. Dick (Original Story).
- Producer(s): Ridley Scott, Frank Spotnitz, Christian Baute, Isa Dick Hackett, Stewart Mackinnon, Christopher Tricarico, Michael Cedar, Jean Higgins, Jordan Sheeban, and David W. Zucker.
- Music (Opening Theme): Edelweiss by Jeanette Olsson.
- Music (Composers): Henry Jackman and Dominic Lewis.
- Cinematography: James Hawkinson and Gonzalo Amat.
- Editor(s): Kathryn Himoff.
- Production: Amazon Studios, Scott Free Productions, Electric Shepherd Productions, Headline Pictures, Big Light Productions, Picrow, and Reunion Pictures.
- Distributor(s): Amazon Studios.
- Original Network: Amazon Prime Video.
- Release Date: 15 January 2015 to 15 November 2019.
- Running Time: 45-70 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English, German, and Japanese.