May 25, 2022

Based on the horror podcast of the same name, Netflix’s Archive 81 is a series that features mysterious fires, paranormal cults, and a psychic connection across time and space. The series follows Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), a young conservator who is hired to restore a collection of damaged VHS tapes. The tapes were created in the 90s by Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), a student working on her doctoral dissertation about an apartment building called the Visser. A fire destroyed the building and Melody’s tapes, and now Dan is uncovering what happened to Melody and the other residents of the Visser almost 30 years later. What he discovers is a tightly wound conspiracy that seeks to hide the true nature of the Visser. But exactly who, or what, is lurking in the shadows of these puzzling tapes?

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Rebecca Sonnenshine developed Archive 81 for TV and served as an executive producer on the project. The series is an adaptation of the Archive 81 podcast created by Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger.

The show is told through two timelines that alternate between Melody’s investigation of the Visser in 1994, and Dan’s work to restore her tapes in the present day. By jumping back and forth in time, Archive 81 unravels a paranormal mystery that is sure to surprise even the savviest viewers as each new twist is revealed. Here’s a rundown of the central characters in Archive 81.

Related:’Archive 81′: Most Disturbing Moments, Ranked

Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner

Mamoudou Athie leads the show as Dan Turner, a conservator who lost his entire family to a house fire as a child. Dan is hired to restore a collection of destroyed VHS tapes by Virgil Davenport (Martin Donovan), the owner of a mysterious company called LMG. For the job, Dan has to relocate to a remote house in the middle of the woods with no contact with the outside world. As he dives into restoring the tapes and exploring his new home, Dan discovers that this seemingly innocent gig might be more sinister than he could have ever imagined.


Athie has starred in other Netflix originals including The Get Down and Brie Larson’s directorial debut, Unicorn Store. He was also featured in the main cast of Hulu’s Sorry For Your Loss. You can catch Athie in the upcoming conclusion to the Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World Dominion, in June 2022.

Dina Shihabi as Melody Pendras

Melody Pendras, the show’s other lead character, is played by Dina Shihabi. Melody is a grad student in 1994 working on her Ph.D. dissertation about the history of the Visser apartment building in New York. The tapes Dan is restoring were filmed by Melody as part of her project, and the mystery of the series is unraveled as she gets deeper into discovering the secrets that the Visser is hiding. There’s something in this strange building that keeps pulling Melody in, and she has to figure out what its residents are hiding before it’s too late.


Shihabi has been featured in other action and sci-fi series including Daredevil and Altered Carbon. She also appeared in several episodes of Season 1 of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Later this year she will star alongside Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick in Painkiller, a Netflix original miniseries about the beginnings of the opioid epidemic.

Matt McGorry as Mark Higgins

Matt McGorry plays Dan’s best friend Mark Higgins. Mark runs a mystery podcast and serves as the main support system for Dan. Once the two figure out how to call each other while Dan is staying at LMG’s house, Mark helps Dan research the information he learns from the tapes about Melody and the Visser. Though Mark is interested in figuring out the mystery his best friend has found himself involved in, his main concern throughout the series is protecting Dan.


McGorry is most well known for his role as John Bennett in one of Netflix’s first long-running series, Orange Is the New Black. He also starred as Asher Millstone in all six seasons of the hit Shondaland drama series, How to Get Away With Murder.

Martin Donovan as Virgil Davenport

The mysterious CEO Virgil Davenport is portrayed by Martin Donovan. Davenport approaches Dan to restore a collection of tapes, later revealed to be Melody’s tapes of the Visser. The tapes were destroyed in the apartment fire, but Davenport does not reveal any information about them or why he wants them to be restored. To make things even more ominous, Davenport installed security cameras all around the house Dan is working in and watches his every move. Is Davenport simply a collector who wants to restore a piece of history, or could he have much more diabolical motives for getting his hands on these tapes?


Marvel fans will recognize Donovan as the undercover HYDRA agent, Mitchell Carson, in Ant-Man. He has also been featured in several popular series including Big Little Lies, Weeds, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. In 2020, Donovan played Fay in Christopher Nolan’s latest film Tenet.

Related:How ‘Archive 81’ Is the Most Successful Version of Adapting a Podcast Into a TV Show

Evan Jonigkeit as Samuel Spare

Samuel, played by Evan Jonigkeit, is a young, charismatic resident of the Visser. He asks Melody out soon after the two meet, and they keep up a flirty relationship for a while. However, Samuel is hiding secrets that Melody is intent on uncovering. His past and his true motives in the Visser could be tied to the paranormal occurrences that keep happening, and Melody’s new love interest might end up being far more dangerous than romantic.

Jonigkeit starred in the Jason Momoa-led series Frontier as Captain Chesterfield. He also played Toad in X-Men: Days of Future Past and starred in the Starz original series Sweetbitter. Jonigkeit is involved with the upcoming project Somebody I Used to Know, a film directed by Dave Franco and expected to release later in 2022.

Julia Chan as Anabelle

Melody’s best friend and closest confidant, Anabelle, is played by Julia Chan. The two girls shared an apartment before Melody moved to the Visser, and they are extremely close. Anabelle is a free-spirited artist who would do anything for her friend, including packing up and moving to a creepy old apartment building to investigate a potential cult. Once Anabelle arrives at the Visser to help Melody, the dark forces of the building begin dragging her down. Melody has to figure out what is going on in this strange building and put a stop to it in order to save her friend’s soul.


Chan was a co-host and narrator on Seasons 1 and 2 of The Great Canadian Baking Show alongside Dan Levy. She also starred in the medical drama Saving Hope as Dr. Maggie Lin. Chan played Pepper Smith in the Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene and lent her voice to the hit animated series BoJack Horseman as Pickles Aplenty.

Ariana Neal as Jess

Ariana Neal plays Jess, a young girl who was born in the Visser and has lived in the building her entire life. Jess is one of the first people Melody meets, and she becomes her closest friend in the apartment. Jess knows practically everyone who lives at the Visser because she runs errands for them, so she offers to help introduce Melody to potential interviewees for her project. Melody begins to suspect that Jess may be in danger, and her concern for her new friend is what pushes her to uncover what the Visser is hiding in order to protect Jess.

Neal is a young actress who made one of her first appearances on screen in Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. She went on to star in films including Mother’s Day, Get Hard, and Hidden Figures. Neal is now making her TV debut in Archive 81.

Charlie Hudson III as Steven Turner

Dan’s father, Steven Turner, is portrayed by Charlie Hudson III. Before his untimely death in a house fire that also claimed the lives of his wife and daughter, Steven was a psychologist working at NYU. Unbeknownst to Dan, his father served as Melody’s therapist and often helped her with her investigation of the Visser. Through restoring Melody’s tapes, Dan learns that his father was possibly tied to the dark secrets of the Visser, and the fire that killed his family might not have been quite as accidental as he was lead to believe.


Hudson has appeared in several TV series including Manifest and The Good Fight. He is set to star as Tim in the upcoming show Un$uited, a comedy series about a man who moves to Las Vegas to play poker professionally but discovers he is one of the worst players the game has ever seen.


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