New Delhi, Jul 27 (PTI) American movie and television star Jimmi Simpson says the opportunity to star in CBS All Access' revival of cult classic 'The Twilight Zone' series gave him a chance to come face-to-face with 'long established human fears'.
Simpson, 44, is best known for starring as William in HBO's sci-fi series 'Westworld' and as James Walton in 'USS McCallister', the Emmy-winning episode of 'Black Mirror'.
'The Twilight Zone', developed by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele, and Marco Ramirez, is the third revival of Rod Serling's original show that ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964.
'While 'Black Mirror' tends to tell stories predicting our future based on current events (tech, politics, social media), 'The Twilight Zone' tends to tell stories that pull from long-established human fears... (isolation, madness, xenophobia).
'Both of these are compelling to me. I think Charlie Brooker and Rod Serling are both geniuses,' Simpson told PTI in an email interview.
He stars in the first episode of 'The Twilight Zone' season two as Phil Hayes, a man who hears the voice of a woman in his head. Naturally, love blossoms between the two. However, things take a nefarious turn towards the end.
'The Twilight Zone' season one and two are available for streaming on Voot Select.
Simpson said he referred to Mel Gibson's 'What Women Want' and Joaquin Phoenix's 'Her', movies that dealt with extra-sensory perception, to prepare for his role.
'I also thought of Steve Martin in 'All of Me' and the original Twilight Zone episode 'Mute'.
'But soon it became clear to me that the screenwriters (Emily Chang & Sara Amini) have a new and very specific story to tell about men who believe they are 'owed' a perfect partner, regardless of their own shortcomings,' the actor told PTI in an email interview.
The role was also challenging for Simpson as for the most part of the episode, he is expressing on the screen while speaking in the background.
'As an actor, it's always on you and your imagination to create this alternate reality... but normally you have scene partners to help you build the illusion.
'Without any help, it's a bit like trudging up Mt. Everest alone. However, I wasn't entirely alone, I had the brilliant director Mathias Herndl shouting encouragement to me from the heavens above,' the actor said.
What Simpson has learned from the show is that one should spend less time in the virtual world, something that's difficult to practice in this day and age.
'The takeaway from 'Meet in the Middle' is bittersweet... that you should invest more physical time in your surroundings. Get to know more real people and less flickers on the screen. But that's very difficult right now.' The experience of working in both 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Black Mirror' was similar for Simpson.
'Both are epic shows and were therefore staffed with excited fans in the cast, crew and directors. Everyone working together to make good on the great name of the show.' PTI RB BK BK BK