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 neartotal ignorance about the plot, only allowing that it’ll be epic. “Everything I hear, I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ ”
But first he stars on February’s Unsolved (USA Network), 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 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 everyday 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.”.