Hulu’s “Into the Dark” has just debuted their March episode “Treehouse”, a terrifying twist on the horror genre featuring a “MeToo” message. Jimmi Simpson stars as a chef with a pension for using his fame to get away with assaulting women. But a group of witches is out to teach him a lesson he’ll never forget.
I had the pleasure of talking with Jimmi who took the time to answer my questions while on set about his episode of “Into the Dark: Treehouse”, his role in “Westworld” and much more.
Horror Fuel: “Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I’m a fan. I absolutely loved you in Westworld!
Jimmi Simpson: “Thank you, so much. I loved being on Westworld.”
Horror Fuel: “What was it like to be on that set? I imagine that is an incredible experience.”
Jimmi Simpson: “It was humbling, I would say that is the first thought. I had never been asked to be part of such a huge and kind of profound undertaking, and to be kind of an essential element of that first story, gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever been so flattered. Because that is like, ‘Wow, why would they want to give me that responsibility?’ It just lit a fire in me to work harder than I’ve ever worked. I kind of rediscovered film acting on that show.”
Horror Fuel: “Westworld is brilliant. I loved the way that your character William evolves from that kind man into that jaded, hard one, fantastic.”
Jimmi Simpson: “Thank you so much.”
Horror Fuel: “Treehouse, has just debuted. I have to ask, you play a chef in it, but you can you actually cook?”
Jimmi Simpson: “Hell yeah I can cook! My family didn’t have much money, but if we did, I would have gone to culinary school. I went to a local liberal arts college that was $3,000 a semester. I went after a business and English degree to get a real job and fell into theater that way.
I was almost Chef Jimmi, I love it. I love French cooking, I love Italian, mostly I think that’s what I would have done. I love anything French-based. I love a sauce, I love a soup, anything like that.”
Horror Fuel: “What’s your signature dish?”
Jimmi Simpson: “I probably have two, one is a vegan soup. I was in a bar in Toronto, it was just a tiny little corner bar. They served no food, but they had a crockpot, covered in filth, but I was starving and I was like, ‘I’ll take a bowl that.’ They called it peanut soup. It was kind of mostly oil, with some tomato and a little peanut and spices. I took that and kind of developed a vegan tomato curry, peanut, wonderful thing that I can make at the drop of a hat. I guess the more difficult thing that I’m proud of is I make this gnocchi that will just curl your toes.”
Horror Fuel: “That sounds delicious.
In Treehouse, your character is very likable in the beginning, but then you find out just what type of man he really is. Do you find it difficult to play those dark types of roles?”
Jimmi Simpson: “Not for me, because for me acting is not about reliving my own life experiences necessarily or drawing from them. To me, the process feels much more like transportation into another being, so to assume their characteristics it doesn’t hurt me, it doesn’t make me draw all this judgment. It allows me to step inside and explore someone who would make those choices. The result is what you see on film, so it’s not like I’m thinking ‘Oh, now I can be this gross, evil guy.’ I’m playing a man who likes to fulfill himself sexually at a higher priority than the wellbeing of the females around him. And that’s not playing evil, it’s playing on human priorities.
I think today more than any period of time there’s differing priorities. That’s what this movie is about. We made it not just to entertain or to scare people, it’s to be part of the discussion of the #MeToo movement and to be able to share this story with people who can maybe, unfortunately, see themselves and reconsider, or people can witness their own friends in front of them and be ‘Oh, shit! I need to get them to stop that.’ We need to talk about what’s happening and change it.”
Horror Fuel: “Well said! Treehouse sends a clear message. You’re right, #MeToo is something we all need to be talking about.”
Jimmi Simpson: “Yeah, man. I think it’s beyond compare, what’s happening right now. I don’t know. You know The Legend of Billie Jean with Helen Slater? Fair is fair. I believed it then and I believe it now. I really do think that it’s men’s responsibility to forward the #MeToo movement, it’s not just women having to force their way up to a fair shot on the stage, it’s men stepping aside and giving up some of their privileges that they just get inherently. Men don’t have to earn the privilege they have in this world. Women have to earn it, so it’s men’s responsibility to give up some of that shit if it’s going to be a good world.”
Horror Fuel: “I agree. I think we all need to be working together to make things better.”
Jimmi Simpson: “Yeah, man.”
Horror Fuel: “I’ll be honest, for Treehouse being a horror film, and it is in every sense of the word, I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.”
Jimmi Simpson: “Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of ways to look at that. We really talked about it a lot and there’s a certain satisfaction to revenge, an absolute satisfaction to either him dying, being maimed, that would be kind of glorious and lovely to see, but I think also we want to comment on that’s not necessarily…I think that’s a masculine way to achieve revenge whereas with a woman it’s not revenge, it’s more enlightenment. It’s more teaching because that is when humans are the best when they see a mistake and they teach and change it so it doesn’t happen again as opposed to an eye for an eye.”
Horror Fuel: “I think death would be too easy. Having to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life is far more punishing. But you are right, teaching someone to be better is better for everyone.
I understand that you are currently on set filming. Can you tell us what it is?”
Jimmi Simpson: “Oh my god, it’s going to be just such a beautiful show. It’s a really high-quality show Epix has been putting together. It’s myself, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jacki Weaver, Damon Herriman, Luis Guzmàn, just a huge list of extremely talented folks, all helmed, created, and written by Steve Conrad who I think is a voice of his generation that’s just now starting to be heard. I’m going to follow Steve Conrad wherever he goes.”
Horror Fuel: “Oh that sounds awesome! I can’t wait to see it. That’s such an incredible cast.”
After a little research, I learned that the series Jimmi is currently filming is “Our Lady, LTD.” The series centers on James (Jimmi), a young grifter, as he attempts to prey upon Pastor Byron Brown (Kingsley), who turns out to be far more dangerous than he suspects.”
Horror Fuel: “You know what else has an incredible cast, This is Us. What was that like?”
Jimmi Simpson: “Yeah, man. I only got one shot at that show. I really loved that episode I got to do. I got to work with Sterling K. Brown who I started with doing Summerstock theater in the ’90s. It was real nice coming home to work with that genius again. That show is just like life. It’ll run you through the wringer and makes you grateful for the good times.
Horror Fuel: “I love it. Will we see you in any more horror movies?”
Jimmi Simpson: “Yeah. I love horror. I’ll always be showing up in those. There’s a pretty cool noir thriller called Under the Silver Lake starring Andrew Garfield I’ll be in. I think it comes out pretty soon.”
Horror Fuel: “I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one.”
Sometimes during interviews, I’m pleasantly surprised that actors are exactly who I hoped they’d be in real life. That’s the case with Jimmi who is not only humble, but funny, and kind. Not only is he an incredibly talented actor, but it also seems he’s quite the chef (Who knows, maybe we’ll see a Jimmi Simpson cookbook one day).
Our conversation left me with a serious craving for a bowl of soup and the urge to re-watch Treehouse (now streaming on Hulu) followed by a “Westworld” binge.