People often wonder what their life would be like in an alternate dimension. In the Starz series, Counterpart, that question is answered in some very intriguing and dangerous ways. The spy thriller, which wrapped its first season in April, focuses on Howard Silk [played by legendary actor J.K. Simmons], a low-level agent at a spy agency in Berlin. Although Howard’s life seems straightforward, he comes to discover that his employer has been hiding a dangerous secret, one that involves a gateway to a parallel dimension. As the first season progressed, the interactions between the characters in the Alpha world (comparable to our current world) and their counterparts in the Prime world (the parallel dimension) became increasingly intersected.
To celebrate the show’s second season, which airs December 9th, the cast and crew gathered at the black carpet premiere last night, where Blast Magazine spoke with J.K. Simmons about his experience shooting one of the most exciting and thought-provoking series on television.
Blast Magazine: At the end of season 1, viewers witnessed both Howards trapped in each other’s worlds. Part of what made the first season so impressive was the fact that audiences knew which Howard they were watching in each scene without being told. What was it like to play Howard Prime pretending to be Howard Alpha in season 2?
J.K. Simmons: Complicated and it gets a lot more complicated as season 2 goes on. That’s part of the challenge and part of the fun. I’ve been doing this for a long time so it’s nice to have new challenges.
Blast Magazine: Do you prefer playing one Howard over the other?
Simmons: Now that I am doing a show where I get to play two guys, a big part of the fun is the ability to go back and forth. I do have a short attention span which is why I like being an actor and getting to pretend to be other people. Frankly, that’s why I stopped doing Broadway. Doing the same show eight times a week for a year started to rot my brain. For this show, it’s great to play the kinder, gentler Howard for however the schedule shakes out and then change my clothes and play a badass.
Blast Magazine: So much of this show is shrouded in mystery. While fans have many theories about the second season, none of them have been confirmed. When you film, and when you watch TV for pleasure, do you prefer to be kept in the dark or do you like knowing everything up front?
Simmons: I love seeing things and knowing absolutely nothing about them going in. It’s so hard now with all of the information that’s out there. I don’t even like to watch trailers when I go to the movies, which I know is naïve and kind of dumb, because I just love to watch the story unfold. People say there are no new stories, but I think Justin Marks [the show’s creator], among others, continues to find really interesting ways to tell stories.
Blast Magazine: If there was another J.K. Simmons in a parallel dimension, what do you think he would be like?
Simmons: Bald. Very attractive. Probably doing something more grown-up for a living.
Blast Magazine: For the first season, all ten episodes were written prior to shooting. Was that the same format for this season?
Simmons: It was not quite the same. We basically split the season in two. We shot the first five episodes, kind of jumped around a bit within those, and then did the last five episodes. Justin filled me in on the broad strokes of where we were going but it was kind of like doing two five-hour movies instead of one ten-hour movie.
Be sure to tune in to the second season of Counterpart which premieres on December 9th on Starz!