Jacob Fortune-Lloyd opens up about his role as closeted gay man in ‘The Queen's Gambit’
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd has been a part of well-known period dramas such as Wolf Hall (2015) and Medici: The Magnificent (2018). In these shows, the actor has portrayed characters ranging from a gentleman in the Tudor circle to a priest in Renaissance Italy. But while these characters left a powerful impression, the role as D.L. Townes, a gay man in The Queen’s Gambit (2020), is what Fortune-Lloyd is now best known for.
Starring as Beth Harmon’s crush in the hugely popular chess-based historical drama, Fortune Lloyd’s character, Townes had a good portion of the show’s Twitter community buzzing. With how much they loved Townes, GQ Magazine UK even said that Townes’ storyline had made him a “low-key queer sex symbol.”
Fortune-Lloyd’s Character In The Queen’s Gambit
In The Queen’s Gambit, Fortune-Lloyd plays D.L. Townes, a photographer, journalist, and chess player who faces off against Beth Harmon at a local chess tournament in Kentucky. Harmon develops a crush on Townes, which many fans of the show approved. But the implication that Townes might be gay got the viewers talking when a man named Roger seems rather friendly towards him.
Townes’s sexuality was never made clear, and fans of the show were curious about whether he was gay, bi, or even straight. Fortune-Lloyd, however, says that he is sure of Townes and Roger being an item even though it was never stated.
“Townes is a gay man. When we see the lovely Tim Kalkhof, who played Roger, appear in his budgie smugglers, I think it’s unambiguous that they’re an item. For me, anyway.”
While Harmon is hurt thinking that Townes was misleading her, she walks away from him, but Townes’ part in the series is not over. He reappears, and the two reconcile. Townes also helps assemble a team of advisors to assist Harmon to achieve victory.
Townes and Harmon’s relationship did not evolve into a romantic one, but Fortune-Lloyd spoke about his interpretation of Townes’ feelings for Harmon. “[Their romantic relationship] doesn’t happen, for all kinds of reasons, but I think he is interested in her and will always be attracted to her. What he really wants is a kind of deep, platonic relationship.”
Fortune-Lloyd Watched Rock Hudson To Prepare For His Role As Townes
Fortune-Lloyd has starred in multiple period dramas and says that he gets into character by listening to music and watching films of the time. To get a better idea for playing Townes, the Wolf Hall actor took inspiration from American actor Rock Hudson, who was gay.
During the shoot of The Queen’s Gambit, Bruce Pandolfini, a USFC master, coached Fortune-Lloyd and other cast members on set. He was also the chess consultant to author Walter Tevis (original author of the novel The Queen’s Gambit). The actor picked up some chess skills on the set and even beat the nine-year-old Beth Harmon avatar on chess.com.