BAZ BAMIGBOYE: The Queen’s Gambit Star Jacob Fortune-Lloyd Will Be Featured In New Beatles-Themed Biopic
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, who caught Anya Taylor-Joy’s attention on (and off) the chessboard in the hit Netflix drama The Queen’s Gambit, made the best move by being picked to be Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ legendary manager. , to star in a new movie to be released later this year.
Epstein was called “the fifth Beatle” by Paul McCartney; and when John Lennon learned of his death from an accidental overdose in 1967, he declared, “He was one of us.”
The 33-year-old rising star was chosen for the role in Midas Man (An Unauthorized Autobiography of Brian Epstein) by director Jonas Akerlund.
Akerlund, a Grammy-award-winning music video filmmaker, is celebrated for his collaborations with Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Madonna; as well as two images: Polar, a highly visualized graphic novel adaptation starring Mads Mikkelsen; and Lords Of Chaos, about the Norwegian underground satanic band Black Metal. “His style always pushes the boundaries,” Fortune-Lloyd said of the director’s work.
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (pictured) made the best move of all by being selected to play Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ legendary manager, in a new movie set to be shot later this year.
Screenwriters Jon-athan Wakeham and Brigit Grant have skillfully cut themselves off from the usual biopic script with numbers.
Epstein, son of a millionaire furniture store owner in Liverpool, was a frustrated actor who left the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after one term. He discovered the Beatles when they played at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in 1961. They were his first contract.
“It’s so interesting when you get these figures who shape culture but fall outside of the mainstream,” the actor told me during a phone call on Zoom on Wednesday.
Epstein was way ahead of his time in the way he promoted the Beatles on both sides of the Atlantic. But he also learned on the job, with everything that came with it: a ‘big-sky thinker with very ambitious ideas’ and little experience with the core of finance and copyrights.
Fab Five: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Brian Epstein in July 1964
Epstein was ahead of his time in the way he promoted the Beatles on both sides of the Atlantic (pictured with the band)
“He was a gay man, a Jewish man who loved classical music – and here he is, putting on the most famous rock and roll band of all time,” the actor marveled.
Epstein eventually became “a culture shaper, even though he had never really found a comfortable place in that culture.”
“You may need that outside perspective,” he added.
Fortune-Lloyd studied at the Guildhall in London and has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the West End (alongside Sophie Thompson and Stella Gonet in The Importance Of Being Earnest), on TV at the BBC’s Wolf Hall and on the big screen in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker.
But his breakthrough was playing DL Townes, one of the heroine’s mentors and competitors in The Queen’s Gambit, a massive worldwide success for Netflix.
Fortune-Lloyd caught Anya Taylor-Joy’s attention on (and next to) the chessboard in the hit Netflix drama The Queen’s Gambit (pictured)
Fortune-Lloyd as Spiegel and Warren Brown as Sgt. Thomas ‘Mac’ McAllister in the TV show Strike Back
Director Akerlund has a great visual flair. When you look at his videos and films, it is clear why the producers of the film, led by Trevor Beattie (the advertising wizard), chose him. The Swede is steeped in the music business, but also has that ‘looking outside’ feeling.
Director and star have only met at Zoom so far, but are planning a joint pilgrimage to Liverpool. And of course there will be more pouring.
But first, Fortune-Lloyd must finish filming Amazon’s globetrotting thriller series The Power for director Reed Morano after it was delayed by the pandemic.
How Sheila, the kickboxer, reached for the stars
No one could accuse Sheila Atim of letting herself be typified. Born in Northern Uganda, the 30-year-old actress lists just a few of the roles she’s played in the past two years.
She was a witch in Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse; an angry tooth fairy in The Irregulars on Netflix; an enslaved midwife in Oscar winner Barry Jenkins’ excellent television adaptation of The Underground Railroad, and a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter in Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised.
Atim, who actually studied biomedical sciences at King’s College, told me that when her agent, Lucy Middleweek, applied her, she said, ‘Let’s just throw everything up the wall and see what sticks. Any ethnicity, any height [Atim stands nearly 6ft tall in her stockinged feet] Let’s just go for it! Such an open-minded outlook has enabled her to embark on a brilliant career. “I think I’ve been really lucky,” she said, speaking to Zoom from her East London apartment. ‘And I want to keep expanding, see what else is possible.’
No one could accuse 30-year-old Northern Uganda-born actress Sheila Atim (pictured) of typing herself
The next step: an engagement at the Vaudeville Theater in London, in Constellations. Michael Longhurst, the artistic chef of the Donmar Warehouse, has assembled an amazing quartet of couples who break gender, race and age barriers to repertoire in Nick Payne’s award-winning play as star-crossed lovers Roland (a beekeeper). ) and Marianne (a professor specializing in the cosmology of the early universe).
Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah kick off the season on June 18, followed by Peter Capaldi and Zoe Wanamaker; Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey; and Chris O’Dowd and Anna Maxwell Martin.
She loves playing Marianne (same first name as her Olivier award-winning character in Conor McPherson’s Girl From The North Country) alongside fellow Ugandan Jeremiah.
She played an enslaved midwife in Oscar winner Barry Jenkins’ excellent television adaptation of The Underground Railroad (pictured)
She took on the role of a maenad in the play The Lightning Child staged at the Globe Theater
And science is also close to her heart. “I’ve always loved physics and astronomy,” she said (although she admits her math wasn’t strong enough to walk that path). Plus, it also gives her the chance to do onstage ‘what I do in my real life all the time – constantly telling people scientific facts, explaining theories and biological processes’.
I nod, despite being lost before we get to “endoplasmic reticulum” (the network of membranes in a cell, if you are wondering).
Unless you think she’s just a techie, Atim knows a bit about kickboxing too, having trained in the sport for six years. Which came in handy when Best Actress Oscar winner Halle Berry cast her Bruised.
Atim also starred in Les Blancs in London in 2016
Atim’s character is part of the MMA world and she told me she would like to help the stunt team by doing some of her own moves. ‘It was similar for Halle, which is remarkable because she broke ribs – and kept directing and acting!’
I haven’t seen Bruised yet. But I’ve watched all ten chapters (as they are called in the Amazon series) of Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad. Twice!
The show, which airs May 14, is based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Cora, a 14-year-old girl running from a southern plantation. Atim plays Mabel, Cora’s mother. I have more about The Underground Railroad in another column.