Dead Boy Detectives Interview: George Rexstrew & Jayden Revri Breaks Down Season 1

Disclaimer: This Dead Boy Detectives interview contains plot spoilers for season one, and has been edited for clarity and brevity.

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. David Bukach/Netflix © 2023

Dead Boy Detectives is an exciting new Netflix series released in an expanding Neil Gaiman Sandman universe on the platform. The series stars George Rexstrew and Jayden Revri as Edwin and Charles, ghosts who have lingered on Earth to solve supernatural cases no one else can.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the actors ahead of the show’s release about the deep love the characters have for one another, and the layered storytelling in this impressive first season. When my camera feed reveals my wall of movie posters behind me, Jayden Revri is quick to chime in.

Revri: Love the posters, by the way!

LadyJenevia: Thank you so much! I’m very proud of them, clearly.

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland, Hannah Bos as Hannah Devlin, Kassius Nelson as Crystal Palace, Christine Chatelain as Stacey Devlin, George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne, and Audrey Mallett as Hope Devlin in episode 3 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Ed Araquel/Netflix © 2023

Both Edwin and Charles’ tragic back stories are revealed across the first seasons. Edwin was accidentally sent to hell by some classmates during the Edwardian era who believed they were doing a spooky (bullying) prank. Edwin also is shown to be grappling with being gay, something that he couldn’t fully express or understand in the Edwardian time period he originally lived in.

Charles died in the 1980s from hypothermia and internal bleeding after being bullied by some classmates (who were definitely also racist, as Charles has an Indian mother and stuck up for a Pakistani classmate when he was also being bullied). Moreover, Charles experienced parental abuse at home from his father.

LadyJenevia: Edwin and Charles lived and died in different time periods which I would imagine can impact characterisation greatly. Starting off with Jayden, how does Charles being from the 1980s inform how you play the trauma of parental abuse and racist bullying?

Revri: It’s the mask in front that he puts up. I think it’s very common in teenage boys, not even just from the 1980s but from now and before then. To be honest, the way I got the scripts, I read the first script and you see Charles as this charming, go-lucky kid. Then I got given the episodes in real time and got to learn all these things that happened to him. It was a blessing for me that I got to kind of deal with it the same way that Charles did. It was a privilege, I’ll be honest.

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne and Lukas Gage as Thomas The Cat King in episode 2 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

LadyJenevia: And for George, how does Edwin growing up in the Edwardian era influence how you express his romantic yearning and his sexuality?

Rexstrew: Great question. Edwin obviously comes from a time where expressions of sexuality, sensuality, public displays of affection, they’re very much taboo. He’s intensely repressed when it comes to that side of himself. As a result of that, he holds himself quite upright. Etiquette is very important to him. That side of himself is so repressed that his driving force, his engine, is his work. His priority is to be the best detective in the world and he’s an absolute professional. He’s well dressed, it’s very important to him, so that really informed my physicality and the way I tried to embody him.

Revri: The way you did embody him.

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in episode 5 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Ed Araquel/Netflix © 2023

LadyJenevia: I love that Dead Boy Detectives is a love story within that core friendship group so depending on which characters, it’s either platonic love, or romantic love, and found family. Starting off with Jayden, what does Charles love the most about Edwin?

Revri: Do you know what? I think they have this beautiful common ground and similarity of, they went through the same thing when they died and now they’re together. They both fight the same injustices and to be honest, I don’t think there’s one thing specific that he loves about Edwin. I really just think they are the Ying to each other’s Yang, and the qualities that maybe Charles lacks and wishes that he had, I think Edwin has all of those things and vice versa. We talk about them a lot as separate characters but realistically they just become this one entity, being the Dead Boy Detectives.

LadyJenevia: Sending it to George, what does Edwin love the most about Charles?

Rexstrew: I think he loves that Charles accepts, embraces, and loves him for who he is. Even if Edwin doesn’t really know it at the time, I think Edwin understands it by the very end of season one, but I would say that for sure there’s a real unconditional love from Edwin… [I mean,] from Charles.

Revri: And from Edwin!

Rexstrew: And from Edwin, well… bit of self-loathing, but…

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in episode 5 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

LadyJenevia: Jayden, Charles is the self-proclaimed brawn of the duo. Did you find it more challenging to do physical stunts on the show or to act opposite things that are not fully there until VFX get added in post?

Revri: For all of the physical stuff, I tried doing as many push-ups as I could before. It normally ended up being one, but…

Rexstrew: We’d end up eating Popeye’s Chicken.

Revri: Too busy eating fast food!

Rexstrew & Revri: [laugh]

Revri: No but I’ll tell you what, acting opposite tennis balls and pink x’s on screens, and broadening your imagination to all these wonderful fantastical things that happened in our show was so cool. As actors, we feel blessed just to have lines, have a script, and stand there having a conversation. We got to imagine floating squids, talking cats, giant mushroom, and everything else.

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland, Kassius Nelson as Crystal Palace, Yuyu Kitamura as Niko Sasaki, and George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne in episode 7 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Ed Araquel/Netflix © 2023

LadyJenevia: Being that the show deals with these larger-than-life topics of life, death, friendship, and love, George, what are some of the big existential takeaways that you hope the audience will receive from watching Dead Boy Detectives?

Rexstrew: What’s great about our show… and I think this is Steve, Beth, and the creative team really honouring Neil Gaiman’s legacy. Our show attaches notions of care, adventure, and comfort to… as you say, very heavy themes such as death and pain and abuse. I think that probably could leave audiences thinking.

I remember when I watched The Sandman episode six for example, and there’s the character of Death and she goes to collect people and speaks so gently and holds out her hand. I’d never considered that death could could be used as a metaphor like that. It really, really affected me and it’s something I still think of as well. Death is a universal experience. Whether we like it or not, it’s unfortunately coming for us all. If we can inject some adventure into proceedings, why not?

Revri: The best thing about our show is we’re dead and we can’t be dead again. It’s great!

Rexstrew: I also do have to say, when we were preparing for this show we were sent a list of films to watch by our director Lee Krieger and Some Like It Hot was on there.

Revri: It was!

[Note from the author: Much to my delight, Rexstrew is making a point of acknowledging the Some Like It Hot movie poster on the wall behind me.]

Rexstrew: Sorry, I just had to say that.

LadyJenevia: I would say so much more about that but they’ve told me to wrap!

Rexstrew: I just had to get it in!

LadyJenevia: I love it! Thank you so much for your time and thank you for putting forth such a beautiful love story in an all-encompassing way.

Rexstrew: Aw, thank you!

Revri: Thanks for having us!

Dead Boy Detectives is available to stream now on Netflix.

Watch my full interviews with the Dead Boy Detectives cast and show-runners here:

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