Actor Dean Lennox Kelly plays the imposing Pekka Rollins in Netflix's new fantasy series Shadow and Bone, though many fans may recognize him from other shows over the years. Recently, Kelly is likely best-known for playing Kev Ball in Shameless. If Shadow and Bone earns a renewal, he is likely to become a more and more prominent character throughout the series.
Kelly played the Gallagher family's next-door neighbor Kev in the original British version of Shameless, from 2004 to 2013. He was credited as a main cast member for the first three seasons and a recurring member for the rest, as the focus of the series shifted from family to family. As prominent as this role was, it is far from Kelly's only major credit. The British actor has an extensive resume on stage, film and TV, including a notable appearance on Doctor Who in 2007 a starring role in Jamestown from 2017 to 2019. For fantasy fans, all of that was just preparation for the role of Barrel Boss Pekka Rollins.
Pekka Rollins appears in only two episodes of Shadow and Bone, but he leaves a strong impression. He is the dominant crime lord in the Kerch city of Ketterdam — specifically in "the Barrel," the slum-like neighborhood where we meet Kaz Brekker (Fredy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young). Pekka is something of a foil for Kaz, and will most likely become more of one if the show is renewed and it carries on the storyline set out in the Six of Crows duology.
As it is, Pekka appears in the series in order to drive home the ruthlessness of Ketterdam and the Barrel and to give Kaz and his gang a clock to race against. If they are not able to get out of the city in time, Pekka will take on the job they're vying for, and they won't be able to claim the immense prize. This is the show's neat way of introducing characters and elements of the books that have not yet played into the story.
For those new to the Grishaverse, Shadow and Bone combines the stories of two series by author Leigh Bardugo: the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. However, in her writing, the stories do not take place simultaneously. There is a two-year gap between the end of the trilogy and the beginning of the duology, meaning the incidents where readers were introduced to Pekka — not to mention Kaz and his gang — would not have happened here.
Bardugo took part in the writers' efforts to weave the two stories together without disrupting their carefully laid significance too much, and so far reviews have been good, even from die-hard fans of the books. Hopefully, the show will be renewed long enough to get to Pekka's more prominent roles in the series. In the meantime, Shadow and Bone Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.