Glenn Watson/FOX
Mandi Bierly
April 18, 2011 AT 09:06 PM EDT

This Thursday’s “Finder” episode of Bones serves as a backdoor pilot for a potential new Fox show costarring Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) as Leo Knox, the legal advisor, bodyguard, and best friend to Geoff Stults’ Walter Sherman, a former military policeman who can locate anything and anyone. If “Finder” — also featuring Saffron Burrows as Ike Latulippe, the badass who drives the boats, flies the planes, and owns The Ends of the Earth, the bar they call their headquarters — makes it to series, it will be Duncan’s first regular TV gig. (If not, at least he’s got voicing Kilowog in this summer’s Green Lantern to fall back on.)  

Stults has described “Finder” tonally as “a modern-day Magnum, P.I. meets Fletch.” (“So it’s not quite as goofy as Fletch and not quite as small corduroy and jean shorts as Magnum,” he says.) We know from the first clip released from the episode — embedded below — that Leo won’t always come to Walter’s rescue. If he thinks Walter’s to blame for the trouble he’s gotten himself into, he’s on his own. At least for awhile. Still, their bond runs deep.

“Leo used to be, like, 400 pounds,” Duncan tells EW. “He was a lawyer. He was always depressed. He had some family issues. Walter helped him through a great depression at one point. He mentored Leo on how not to lose his temper. Leo started gettin’ into poetry and seeing how poetry rejuvenated his life. Now there are times when Leo will get ready to fight somebody, he’ll recite some poetry. It makes him feel better about the situation.” So Leo isn’t your typical badass? “He’s not the type of person who will say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna eff you up.’ He’s very calm about it. I find those are the people you watch out for. The person that’s always talkin’, you don’t have to worry about that person. The person that while you’re in his face, he’s just lookin’ at you with a smile on his face, that’s the guy you worry about. And that’s Leo Knox in a nutshell.”

Leo shares Walter’s belief that his “Finder” power stems from brain damage he suffered in Iraq. “When something happens, we always say it happens for a reason,” Duncan says. “Once that accident happened to him, he got these abilities. So he doesn’t want to go to a doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist to be fixed because he believes if he gets fixed, all that mental capability will go away.”

Ike, on the other hand, doesn’t buy that. That 2-on-1 dynamic is something Burrows experienced off the Florida set as well. The guys have a nickname for her — Five Star. “It came about the first day we were down there,” Duncan says. “We’re all staying in one hotel in Miami, and she switched her hotel right away to the Ritz Carlton. I said, ‘So you moved already? You moved to a five-star hotel, huh?’ She said, ‘Well, I wouldn’t say that.’ I said, ‘That is a five-star hotel. That’s your name: Five Star.’ She’s the nicest person you want to work with. She just takes me and Geoff messin’ with her all the time and comes right back. She’ll have me almost workin’ for her. Me and Geoff always said, ‘We’re not doin’ nothin’ for Saffron today.’ And then here she comes with that little British accent, and she’d say, ‘Oh love, would you do this for me?’ and me and Geoff found ourselves doin’ it. We’re like, ‘Oh, we said we weren’t gonna do that for her no more.’ We try not listen to her accent anymore. That’s what gets us.”

If the show gets picked up, Duncan notes, they should have the tallest cast in television: He stands 6’5″, Stults is 6’3″, and Burrows is around 6′. Size matters to Duncan, as we found out when Stults told us we had to ask him about standing on an apple box for a scene, something actors their height never have to do — unless the director opts for an angle that makes it impossible to get them in the frame with their shorter costars. “Okay, let me explain that,” Duncan says. “I told the director, ‘I don’t care if it’s a half apple, a quarter apple, never put me on an apple box while Geoff is around because he will take that and talk about it seven years from now. ‘Yeah, Michael wasn’t big enough to be in the frame with me, they had to put him on an apple box.’ I don’t want to hear that. I’ll do anything not to get on an apple box. I’ll miss the scene if I have to get on an apple box with Geoff around. Next question.”

Duncan and Stults worked together on the 2005 movie D.E.B.S., and definitely know how to get each other going. “Don’t believe nothin’ that comes out of Geoff’s mouth except for his name,” Duncan jokes. The story Stults told EW about Duncan leading him through a work out at their hotel during filming that left him soaking in his tub for hours did, however, pan out. Here’s Duncan’s version of that story:

“Geoff calls my room and says, ‘Hey, I’m up at the gym, so come on up.’ I go up there, and he’s posing like a peacock with a 10 pound weight in each hand, and he’s doing dumbbell curls on one leg while looking at himself in the mirror. I said, ‘Geoff, that’s an unusual workout.’ He said, ‘Yeah, it’s Core Balance, you wouldn’t know nothin’ about all this.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I don’t see one drop of sweat.’ He said, ‘Nah, I don’t sweat too much. The workouts are real easy.’ I said, ‘Okay, tomorrow, why don’t we do my workout?’ So we meet downstairs, and I said, ‘Okay, we’re gonna run these stairs up to the gym, which is 20 floors up. And I had a 50 pound weight vest on. He said, ‘You gonna run in that thing?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I’m gonna let you go first because I know I’m gonna get tired.’ So he’s running, and every time he does five flights, he has to do 20 push-ups or something like that. So now I have worked his legs, his cardio, and his upperbody, and it only took us like 20 minutes to reach the top. We went in the gym, and I had him doing these no weight squats, 50 at a time, and then hop right down and do some push-ups again. I worked him out for no more than 40 minutes, and I had him sweating. He says, ‘Eff you, man. I don’t want to see you no more.’ I said, ‘Geoff, we’re cool, right?’ ‘No man, I’m hurtin’.’ He went to his hotel room, and I didn’t see him for 48 hours. [Laughs] I called him a couple times, he didn’t pick up his cell phone, he didn’t pick up the phone in his room. He has not worked out with me since.”

Read more:

‘Bones’: Geoff Stults talks ‘Finder’ episode

‘Bones’: Watch Booth and Walter Sherman get reacquainted

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