FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BOLD
Westworld and Black Mirror’s Jimmi Simpson shows you that in 2018, adding some pattern and personality to your wardrobe is the best way to get people talking.
Early on in the first season of HBO’S sci-fi-western hybrid Westworld, William, the wide-eyed, wary guest of the android theme park, was established as one of the show’s pivotal characters. By questioning everything about a mind-bending world in which people pay to indulge their darkest impulses, the character, played by Jimmi Simpson, became our proxy. But don’t assume that means Simpson will spill the beans on what to expect when the show returns this spring: he pleads near-total ignorance about the plot, only allowing that it’ll be epic. “Everything I hear, I’m like, ‘Oh, my God.’”
But first he stars in February’s US TV series Unsolved, based on the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious BIG. Simpson plays Russell Poole, an LAPD detective who went to his grave believing that police corruption played a role in the killings. (An unrelated film, Labyrinth, inspired by the same story, starring Johnny Depp as Poole, will be released later this year.) Simpson found the role among his most challenging. Despite being “used to making people laugh, creeping them out, intimidating them,” as he describes it, he was caught off-guard playing Poole, whose singular focus on the case bordered on obsession. “I left every day of work feeling like a piece of shit — I was sure this would be the big failure of mine.” Now, he says, “it’s some of my proudest work.”
Which is saying something for the 42-year-old actor: Simpson’s résumé goes back nearly 20 years and includes dozens of credits. His most memorable
work to date came in the wake of two life-altering experiences in 2012. The first was his divorce (from New Zealand actress Melanie Lynskey). The second was a motorcycle accident (a hit-andrun that left him convulsing on an LA dual-carriageway). Before then, he says, “I had found this rhythm of getting parts, and I was grateful for them, but I kind of let it define me. Like, I’ll be the goofball who says something crass, and then I can totally pay my rent. I lost my ability to see it” — acting — “as having value. And then my life turned around.” Ever since, he’s tried to take roles “where I’m wrestling with humanity”.
And with the occasional non-humans, too: he stars in the Star Trek–inspired Black Mirror season four opener “USS Callister”, which creator Charlie Brooker told him is one of his all-time favourites. Later in the year, Simpson will co-star alongside Andrew Garfield in Under the Silver Lake, helmed by It Follows director David Robert Mitchell. As his good fortune continues, Simpson, who grew up in northern New Jersey and cut his teeth in theatre, remains humble.
“I conduct myself as if I am a spaceman in Hollywood,” he says. “I don’t want to do anything fancy. I don’t want people to send me free clothes. I just want to be grateful for this craft they let me do.”
DIAMOND DOG Green wool jacket; green wool trousers, both by Canali. Red/green/black patterned wool vest, by Marni. Blue cotton shirt, by Pal Zileri. Pink/purple polka dot cotton tie, by Belvest. Brown leather shoes, by Bruno Magli.
THE NEW MONKEY SUIT Grey cotton jacket; grey cotton trousers; black leather belt, all by AMI Alexandre Mattiussi. Grey cashmere monkey-print sweater; multicoloured cotton shirt, both by Prada.
Green silk bird-print shirt, by Dolce & Gabbana. Grey pinstripe wool suit; black/red/ white striped wool vest; white cotton shirt, all by Dior Homme. Green suede shoes, by John Lobb. Black cotton socks by Pantherella. BELIEVE THE STRIPE SILK SCENE