He’s played a traumatised soldier in Dunkirk and a dying teenager. Now, the 21-year-old Black Mirror star has been forced by viewers into all manner of sadistic acts
It is strange to sit down with Fionn Whitehead only days after watching him in Bandersnatch, the choose-your-own-adventure Black Mirror episode that appeared on Netflix just after Christmas. As a viewer, you’re given the chance to make his character, Stefan Butler – a video game developer in the early 1980s whose project goes very wrong indeed – do all sorts of horrible and distressing things, directing the story, and his fate, with a series of sadistic clicks. If, of course, that’s the direction you decide upon. Perhaps you were kinder than me, and let it play out to only moderate doom. Or perhaps not. At one point, when a particularly gory option presents itself, Stefan looks into the camera and sighs, “Oh God, really?”, before he goes about the bloody task.
Whitehead is 21, and Stefan is already his second big talking-point role, after he played British soldier Tommy in Christopher Nolan’s harrowing 2017 epic Dunkirk. Whitehead is aware of the hype around Bandersnatch – there are countless forums online attempting to map out the many courses the story could take, using a series of increasingly dense flowcharts – but the brunt of the fuss has passed him by. “I’ve noticed through my friends and family,” he says. “I got a text from a friend saying, ‘Mate, you’re trending on Twitter.’ I didn’t really know what it meant. He adopts a withering tone. ‘It means apparently the TV show is good, dad.’ I was like, ‘Oh, cool.’”
Bandersnatch's Fionn Whitehead: prince of 'sick, sad or angry'