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Bodies star Jacob Fortune-Lloyd talks filming with Stephen Graham and potential season 2 - exclusive

Warning, contains spoilers for Charlie’s storyline in Netflix’s Bodies

Bodies.  Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman in Bodies.
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
19 October 2023
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Bodies is the new time-bending drama set to be our latest obsession. Starring an all-star cast, including Unorthodox star Shira Haas, Boiling Point’s Stephen Graham and The Responder’s Amaka Okafor, the story follows four detectives all finding the same dead body in four different stages in time, with The Queen’s Gambit star Jacob Fortune-Lloyd starring as the 1940s detective, the somewhat shady character Charlie Whiteman. We sat down with Jacob to discuss the show...

Understanding the Show's Complexity

So, did Jacob fully understand the wibbly wobbly time-y wime-y elements of the show when he first read the script? "I think in truth, I not sure I ever did," he explained. "Not because it's too complicated, but because it wasn't my focus. Charlie Whiteman doesn't really know any of that stuff. He’s so much more involved in his own story than any of the other detectives, for much of the show actually. 

WATCH: Jacob stars in Netflix’s new crime thriller series, Bodies

"It takes him a long time to be as aware as the audience is of the bigger story and what's going on. I think for each detective, each story is quite self-enclosed in a sense. It's very self-enclosed and very intense and then there's this sort of growing sense of there being a bigger story behind them." 

He added: "I read through it and I understood it - it did take a few reads to get all of it, of course, as when you see it on the screen you're getting more than you do on the page, but after that, I had to forget about the bigger story and just go in with Charlie. Everything is just happening, and he doesn't have much time to think or react.

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman in Bodies
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman in Bodies

"It’s a really dynamic, very action-based storyline. He's just pushing his way through forcefully, fighting everyone, angry with everyone and reacting very quickly. He doesn't get much time, he's an action hero figure, he doesn't get much time to stop and think." 

Character Insights: Charlie Whiteman

Despite his storyline indeed being fairly separate from the others, Charlie does come into contact with Julian, played by Stephen Graham in a very different role compared to some of his more famous roles in shows including Line of Duty and This is England. 

Stephen Graham as Elias Mannix in Bodies
Stephen Graham as Julien in Bodies

"It didn’t have a lot of time with Stephen, I had a couple of days but I was incredibly excited about it," Jacob said. "He’s such a legend, such a powerhouse. I suppose it is a different role for him - it’s different from what you’d imagine him doing but he was brilliant and intense and if there’s more chance to act with Stephen I would gobble it up." 

Out of all of the time periods, it appears that Jacob is very happy to have landed in the 1940s, in which the story takes on a noir edge as Charlie is tasked when getting rid of a dead body while under the watchful eye of his superior. So was Poirot an inspiration behind Charlie? 

"Not so much Poirot but I love film noir and The Third Man was a big influence," Jacob said. "I think it was a big influence for everyone for Marco [Kreuzpaintner, executive producer] for Joel [Devlin, cinematographer]. For me, certainly. Bogart! I loved Bogart growing up, and he was an influence. Sam Spade too. 

"There are just so many cool silhouettes, hard-edged, hard-boiled people to draw on. Actually with Marco, one of the first things we did before we even filmed was like a a session on silhouette and shape and shadow. If you only see one eye or you see no eyes or the hat is coming across the face or you only see the mouth smile like all those small details really, they tell the story in that genre." 

In the show, everything begins to change for Charlie when he is tasked with murdering a cheeky street urchin named Esther, who threatens him after spotting him disposing of the dead body. However, he instead grows protective of her, changing the course of his character’s tale. 

Kyle Soller as DI Hillinghead, 1941 Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman,  Amaka Okafor as DS Hasan & 2053 Shira Haas as DS Maplewood
Kyle Soller as DI Hillinghead, 1941 Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman, Amaka Okafor as DS Hasan & 2053 Shira Haas as DS Maplewood

"All the detectives have amazing journeys, which is what makes the show really successful," Jacob explained. "But Whiteman's is basically a story from adolescence to manhood. He goes from boy to man. He goes from teenager to father. He is an individualist, cynic, lone wolf survivor figure. And then this young woman comes into his life and he's very resistant and annoyed by her first, she's just a drag and a problem for him, but his heart does, despite his best intentions, melt. 

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"He opens up and of course, the terrible tragedy is that he opens up and then it's all taken away from him. He's made to care, and then it's all taken away. It's a brutal thing." 

Future Prospects for Bodies

So, what’s the deal with season two? As far as Jacob’s concerned, he’s keen to return to the world of KYAL. He said: "I would love I would love to play Charlie again. It was so fun, I love that period of history, and I love the style. I love that period of cinema history that it's drawing on and he is a delight to play.

"I had to sport a very thin moustache for many, many months and bear the ridicule of my friends. But apart from that, I would absolutely love to do it again." 

This interview was conducted in accordance with union rules. 

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