What to Watch

What to Watch With Perpetual Grace, LTD Star Jimmi Simpson

The 20-year acting veteran reveals what he's binged most recently and what it's like to work alongside a legend like Sir Ben Kingsley.

by | July 12, 2019 | Comments

PASADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Jimmi Simpson of Epix's "Our Lady, LTD" pose for a portrait during the 2019 Winter TCA at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on February 10, 2019 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Corey Nickols/Getty Images)

After one of the greatest television reveals in the history of the small screen, Jimmi Simpson (a.k.a. William or the Young Man in Black from Westworld) didn’t waste any time searching for his next project. After a hard-fought audition, the 20-year acting veteran was cast as the lead in the new Epix drama Perpetual Grace, LTD alongside Sir Ben Kingsley.

The House of Cards alum quickly plunged himself into the world of grifters and shady characters for this neo-noir thriller, a series with a twisty plot that will make Twin Peaks fans feel right at home. A strangely entertaining tale about robbing a fraud church that would make David Lynch proud, Perpetual Grace, LTD is built for cult-classic appreciation. Only four episodes into this season and we don’t know what’s in store for James (Simpson) and Pastor Byron Brown (Kingsley), but the first half already has us itching with anticipation.

Just hours before he screened the latest episode at the ATX Television Film Festival in early June, Simpson spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about working with Kingsley, what he’s streaming, and a graphic television program he finds surprisingly soothing.

What’s appointment viewing for you?

Westworld Episode 7: Evan Rachel Wood, Jimmi Simpson (John P. Johnson/HBO)

(Photo by John P. Johnson/HBO)

Jimmi Simpson: Do shows even come out every week any more?

Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: Well, You were on one last year.

[Laughs] No, you’re right, if we were not on hiatus, yes I would definitely say Westworld. It’s wonderful for that kind of Dickensian quality: here’s a little bit and you’ll wait, and you’ll enjoy waiting.

What’s on your streaming queue?

PEN15. They’re about 5 to 10 years after my time. I was, like, in college when they talking about these things, the preemptive and internet chat stuff, but it’s the application of everything that we learned, growing up now as 30-year-olds. They’re 30, and having the emotional intelligence and the verbal articulation to share the lessons that we all couldn’t process at that time. It just feels like it brings the human growth experience, the adolescence experience, the confusion, into this world where we understand why we do all these things, we understand the trouble we got into, and why we made the bad calls we made, and what actually built who we are as adults. And then it’s f—ing hilarious. I think it resonates on a sociological level in a way that no comedy show has ever to me. I was raised on Wonder Years, so that’s the closest show to this, but that’s still an adult tale. It’s a middle-aged person describing that experience and we’re looking at it from a middle-aged point of view. Whereas, these two women are attacking it from the perspective of a 30-year-old, just with the knowledge and the wisdom of a 13-year-old. I can’t believe how good it is. I can’t believe how on point both of their performances are. Each time I’m just stunned. They bring me to tears about every episode, and then I’m laughing my ass off. It’s just so good and they call out what needs to be called out, and they let themselves make all those mistakes, so that should win all the awards.  I think it should get a Nobel Peace Prize.

Jared Harris in Chernobyl credit: Liam Daniel/HBO

(Photo by Liam Daniel/HBO)

Anything else?

Absolutely: Chernobyl.

Great show, but kinda depressing. 

Well, it’s only depressing if we let it keep happening.  I presume that filmmaker knew what he was doing when he was saying, “Look at the mistakes they made, and let’s try to avoid that, the misinformation.” If you look at the United States of America right now and the daily misinformation from our commander-in-chief, he says it to protect his little ego, and he does it at the expense of human lives. In Chernobyl all they’re doing is protecting their ego, the ego of the state, the collective ego. But isn’t a person’s ego even more nefarious, even more worthless to go into such terrible pitches of ill truth? It’s stunning to me. We all want to learn lessons, we all want to be better, but it’s also a world where everyone wants to watch shows and be really entertained. So how do you achieve both? How do you get your message across, and make one of the most clearly articulate and beautiful, visual stories on TV right now? Every time he sets the camera or doesn’t set the camera, every push in, every performance is captivating. It’s film at its best, I think, because I just love biography, so to give audiences all of this pertinent information and all these warning signs under the guise of “Holy f— this is so entertaining!” That’s hard to do man. And so I just clap my ass off for that show.

What’s on your DVR?

Believe it or not, I unwind to the Forensic Files. I discovered because my wife found it. She’s from the U.K., so she’s always looking for the next true crime thing that America has. And she found these half-hour investigations into awful crimes, and how forensics got to the bottom of it. At first I was like, “oh my God!” But with the climate of the world, with so much sadness and so much devastation and no checks and balances, we don’t have justice. We have racism at its highest since the civil rights movement. So these little half-hour episodes, they’re horrific crimes, but each one is foiled. Each time the bad guy’s gotten, and you know at the end of it you’re going to see the bad guy thrown in jail. So despite how awful it is you can say, “Thank God, evil monsters do go to jail in the end.”  They’ll get them every time! That feeling is calming to me. I’m less of the superheroes guy. That flight of fancy doesn’t quite suit me. I’m like, that’s not happening! That’s not real. But when we go over to Forensic Files, justice pans out. Without a cape.

What’s coming soon that you can’t wait for?

I don’t know if it’s soon, but Pen15 season 2.

You didn’t take really take a break from Westworld to do this? Did you go right into this? 

No there wasn’t much time, but I don’t need it. I’ll have time when I die. I’m acutely aware that I’m in a really fortunate position. I’ve worked really hard and I want to take advantage of the fact, that people give a little bit of a f— about me right now. I take that responsibility seriously. I have worked for over 20 years to try to see what I’m capable of expressing as an artist. And when Perpetual Grace came around I was tired, but I read the script. I saw that Steve Conrad and Bruce Terris were trying to offer something above and beyond the normal television fare. Such artful visions, such a clear desire to elevate art from the TV, I actually chased them. Me and my manager were like, “Please. Please let us, please. What do I need to do?”

How did you ultimately get involved with the project?

From the script I was amazed. It reminded me of some of my favorite movies, like Magnolia with Paul Thomas Anderson. When I saw his previous show, Patriot, I saw how he’s going to execute his vision, so thoughtfully, thematically. I was sold. And then Ben Kingsley’s name meant that I had to fight to the death to try to be a part of it. Several auditions later it was mine.

How was working with Ben Kingsley?

Intimidating as f—. But, with intimidation comes preparation and care and thoughtfulness, and so I was there ready to be like this — [intertwines fingers] — to him, and he instantly embraced me and treated me like his peer and I was floored. Working with Sir Ben Kingsley was like a dream come true, because I dreamed that he would be so accepting and he really, really is, and he treats me like a guy who has been doing it as long as he has. He doesn’t try to separate himself. I don’t know how, because he should, because he’s so much better than everybody else.

Perpetual Grace LTD 88% airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Epix.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.


Tag Cloud

Dark Horse Comics FX on Hulu TV Land toy story nbcuniversal reviews golden globe awards ID Quiz Holidays Sundance Now ghosts Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Discovery Channel what to watch political drama dceu serial killer NYCC blaxploitation First Look BBC Infographic technology Comic Book Reality Reality Competition Rock fast and furious Podcast cinemax based on movie razzies tv talk Shondaland 20th Century Fox 2018 MTV Kids & Family Hulu cars DGA mockumentary scary movies Travel Channel Funimation Animation spider-man Toys police drama adventure Country WarnerMedia japanese sequel football Disney streaming service YouTube Premium 007 Starz Holiday latino Bravo 72 Emmy Awards Best and Worst 2021 Election Logo zombies Sony Pictures Nat Geo high school E3 Superheroes boxing Rom-Com comedies Pop VOD Black History Month dark Netflix Emmy Nominations TBS Fantasy blockbusters Turner Cartoon Network diversity christmas movies OWN Calendar Martial Arts Ghostbusters IFC Films Anna Paquin cops OneApp documentaries Western james bond Comedy Central sag awards MSNBC SXSW BAFTA classics popular historical drama video batman canceled TV shows Disney+ Disney Plus SDCC The CW strong female leads Broadway rotten movies we love Chernobyl Winter TV comic scorecard ABC The Walking Dead theme song Esquire singing competition Awards Tour 24 frames HBO Max TV crossover documentary venice green book 99% FXX vampires lord of the rings transformers series book festivals stand-up comedy biography Pride Month foreign kids blockbuster aliens binge renewed TV shows YouTube 4/20 south america Amazon Studios Lifetime concert Captain marvel Baby Yoda criterion San Diego Comic-Con Black Mirror ABC Family italian APB worst cancelled TV series TruTV cancelled know your critic Hear Us Out Trophy Talk french animated Star Trek talk show Box Office YouTube Red new york Peacock 2016 anime TV renewals emmy awards Music movies Acorn TV BET mutant DC Universe parents Sundance Ellie Kemper PBS heist movie deadpool Universal Film Walt Disney Pictures IFC HBO Sundance TV saw worst movies universal monsters Brie Larson A&E Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CMT 2019 slashers supernatural Comedy australia trailers Sneak Peek cartoon Family space composers rt archives USA Network aapi Horror Turner Classic Movies Creative Arts Emmys halloween tv TCA Awards Television Academy fresh indie RT History screenings Comics on TV Fox News ITV E! DC Comics Arrowverse TCA TCA 2017 Britbox best VICE kong films Tarantino Lucasfilm sports golden globes Food Network cults Emmys harry potter Nominations laika Mudbound dragons DC streaming service Film Festival Trivia Schedule sitcom TV One unscripted BBC One game show crime drama Mary Poppins Returns The Arrangement Polls and Games dc psycho National Geographic CBS All Access independent Mindy Kaling 45 The Walt Disney Company spinoff Action new star wars movies Paramount Tomatazos CBS romantic comedy 71st Emmy Awards Marathons facebook LGBTQ New York Comic Con BET Awards toronto politics Tubi Premiere Dates Interview Binge Guide adaptation Apple TV Plus scene in color award winner sequels Paramount Plus Marvel justice league Rocketman nature Valentine's Day Video Games The Academy directors X-Men indiana jones nfl Elton John Paramount Network TIFF TLC Sci-Fi revenge jamie lee curtis Opinion Syfy stop motion Spectrum Originals witnail festival breaking bad MCU news Cannes cancelled television crime thriller child's play AMC Oscars war Amazon Prime PlayStation Crunchyroll rom-coms zombie WGN marvel cinematic universe television canceled Superheroe Biopics Apple Pixar Lionsgate Netflix Christmas movies Spike Women's History Month doctor who screen actors guild spanish Television Critics Association rotten comic books cooking See It Skip It Cosplay international SundanceTV anthology VH1 godzilla chucky 2015 miniseries archives Epix Fox Searchlight teaser hidden camera Freeform Amazon Prime Video 93rd Oscars die hard Classic Film black Showtime RT21 Drama ABC Signature NBC hist Song of Ice and Fire The Witch stoner Christmas Mystery Grammys science fiction ESPN Summer name the review dogs Vudu Countdown Legendary Masterpiece twilight 2017 Apple TV+ spy thriller Fall TV prank psychological thriller Mary poppins Nickelodeon Watching Series 2020 game of thrones reboot Crackle Photos Musicals critics Character Guide video on demand Set visit TCM Endgame period drama PaleyFest TCA Winter 2020 Year in Review GIFs Teen true crime Thanksgiving comics GLAAD disaster quibi travel Red Carpet El Rey Avengers mission: impossible robots Academy Awards Hallmark Christmas movies Certified Fresh zero dark thirty dramedy comiccon BBC America Pet Sematary American Society of Cinematographers boxoffice streaming ratings Winners President Awards natural history Exclusive Video social media FX Disney Plus Pop TV Writers Guild of America werewolf all-time spain Adult Swim thriller pirates of the caribbean docudrama discovery Disney Channel DirecTV finale cancelled TV shows richard e. Grant Hallmark hollywood monster movies romance jurassic park 21st Century Fox halloween new zealand Star Wars franchise target Image Comics telelvision CNN History Extras movie free movies asian-american CW Seed Marvel Studios Mary Tyler Moore Heroines king kong cats Pirates Pacific Islander Ovation YA Marvel Television superhero GoT Tumblr a nightmare on elm street kaiju FOX Shudder Alien spanish language TNT women ViacomCBS satire obituary HBO Go Stephen King Columbia Pictures LGBT Lifetime Christmas movies children's TV superman book adaptation docuseries hispanic The Purge casting Trailer Musical Super Bowl Disney USA Spring TV crime Warner Bros. 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards versus joker First Reviews live action Rocky elevated horror Amazon A24 medical drama remakes