Why the ‘Westworld’ and ‘Black Mirror’ Creators Won’t Watch Each Other’s Shows

Black Mirror is out on Netflix, but before it premiered, the creators drummed up buzz by having the cast appear at PaleyFest. On Oct. 6, 2017, writer Charlie Brooker, producer Annabel Jones, and the cast of the season’s first episode, “USS Callister,” appeared at the festival to give fans a peek of the Star Trek themed-episode. Among the cast members is Jimmi Simpson, who also stars on Westworld.

As fans know, Simpson appears on Westworld, which is focused on technology and the potential downsides of it. The Cheat Sheet asked him what it’s like to cross over into another show that deals with the possible consequences of technology.

Here are seven things to know about Jimmi Simpson and his experience on both shows.

1. Jimmi Simpson reveals why the Westworld and Black Mirror creators avoid each other’s shows

Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, creators of Westworld and Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror

Left: Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Right: Charlie Brooker | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMDb.com

Q: You already did Westworld, which is kinda sci-fi futuristic, and now you’re doing this show, which is kind of in the same vein, but very focused on something else. How do those two things differ for you?

Jimmi Simpson: I think they’re both real close actually. If I’m being honest, [Westworld creator] Charlie [Brooker] won’t watch Westworld until he’s done with Black Mirror and vice versa. [Jonathan Nolan] and [Lisa Joy] over at Westworld won’t watch Black Mirror until they’re done with Westworld.

They both believe, and I do as well, that material is pertinent, and it’s all talking about VR or artificial intelligence in general. So I think that both are very much fantastic. Westworld is just a little bit more fantasy and Charlie’s scratching the surface of what is. So it’s kind of a little more immediate.

2. Simpson didn’t audition for his role on Black Mirror

Jesse Plemons, Jimmi Simpson, Cristin Milioti, and Michaela Coel in Black Mirror

The cast of the Black Mirror episode, “USS Callister” | Netflix

Q: How did you get involved with Black Mirror?

Simpson: I got an offer to do Black Mirror. I’m not an offer, lot of offers, kind of guy, so I did assume that it would be a very tiny little role, which I would have flipped to do. I assumed, then I read the role, and saw that it was actually — it was gorgeous. It was a role I would have chosen if I was given the choice, and so I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know exactly why that happened. Whose idea it was and why it was approved. I’m so grateful!

3. He says actors want to go on Black Mirror to be part of a bigger conversation

Bryce Dallas Howard holds a phone and wears a blue jacket on Black Mirror

Bryce Dallas Howard on Black Mirror | Netflix

Q: It seems like a lot of actors are interested in [Black Mirror]. We just saw Bryce Dallas Howard start off last season and everything like that. Do you think it’s because it’s one episode and it’s more movie quality, even though it’s for television?

Simpson: I think that definitely kind of bolsters it, when you think about committing time to it, but the real draw is Charlie [Brooker] and his brains. I think the story is, like I said, just how pertinent things are and then you get to be part of that discussion. You know, most of us artists are trying to comment somehow or off of something, and Charlie’s kind of giving that too.

4. The actor says working on both shows made him learn more about technology

Talulah Riley and Jimmi Simpson looking at a display case of guns on Westworld

Talulah Riley and Jimmi Simpson on Westworld | HBO

Q: Most of your recent projects are about technology. How has that shaped how you now view technology?

Simpson: I think it’s given me more a little more awareness. I think [Jonathan Nolan], Lisa [Joy], and Charlie [Brooker] are infinitely more intelligent than I am and they’re aware and know what’s happening. And so just by proximity, I feel like I know a little bit more, a little bit more than last by asking ‘What is happening? What is actually possible? And what would I do?’

5. He compares his Black Mirror character to Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation | CBS

Q: Can you give me a little description of your Black Mirror character?

Simpson: So he’s kind of the Jonathan Frakes Next Gen Star Trek. He’s the first, he’s subordinate to the captain, played by Jesse [Plemons], kind of Kirk-inspired.

6. Simpson will also be returning to Westworld

Jimmi Simpson as William firing a gun in Westworld

Jimmi Simpson as William in Westworld | HBO

There was a pretty big reveal about Simpson’s character at the end of Season 1 of Westworld. It was actually up in the air if he would return to the show.

But according to Digital Spy, he will be back for Season 2. It’s still unknown what exactly he’ll be doing.

7. We will probably see how young William became the Man in Black

Jimmi Simpson as William wears a black hat in Westworld

Jimmi Simpson as William in Westworld | HBO

Many fans were surprised to find out William and the Man in Black were the same person. But what happened to young William to make that change?

There a few more questions that they’re gonna answer for us as far as exactly how that transition occurred and what it felt like to him and other people,” said Simpson, according to Digital Spy.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

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