The actor discusses working with Sophia Bush and Frankie Muniz in the new horror film
There are tons of movies now adays where a movie gets its own video game, or a video game gets turned into a movie. But, not too often do you have both in the same film. Stay Alive is a horror film where the characters play a video game where the object is to not be killed. Because, when you die in the game, you die in real life.
When a group of friends discover the terrible consequences happening because of this video game, they go inside to try and stop it. Jimmi Simpson is one of those teens; I had the chance to speak with him on the phone to talk about the film and a few other upcoming projects including Seraphin Falls with Pierce Brosnan.
Here's how the conversation went:
How were you approached for this film?
Jimmi Simpson: It's just one of those things; I knew the casting director in New York. I saw his name on the sheet - by the way, his name is Mark Bennett - and so I went for the audition. I hadn't read the script, so I went in and told Matt and Brent that I hadn't read the script. Obviously, they were hoping that I had, but they must have liked what they saw.
McG is also attached to this film; when was the first time you met him and what was that like?
Jimmi Simpson: The first time was in New Orleans, but he's actually 'the guy' to have around. He's great! The first day he was there, he gathered everyone around and said a nice thing about everyone. And for me, that was nice; he never met me before.
When you're shooting with him around, is the mood serious when you're in an intense scene?
Jimmi Simpson: For me, mood is something you have to ignore. I try to put myself in that position and try to react the way I would. I try not to play funny if it doesn't call for that.
Were there days you knew were coming up in the shoot you had to get ready for?
Jimmi Simpson: Not really, I tried to go one day at a time and see how that went..
Was there one day in particular you will remember from the shoot?
Jimmi Simpson: Oh yeah, 'Death Day.' The day I die was a long day; I stayed bloodied up all day. I was all covered with this nasty red, goo from head to toe; my hands were all sticky and everyone had to do stuff for me. That was fun, though.
Have you seen that scene yet?
Jimmi Simpson: Yeah, it was awesome!
Is it weird to see yourself die on screen?
Jimmi Simpson: No, not really; I've died about three or four times in movies and other TV shows I've done. I died in 24; Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) was pretending to be working for the terrorists and we were supposed to be blowing up the CTU building. He killed me; and I also died in a Stephen King movie.
You and Sophia (Bush's) character have the weirdest names - October and Phineus; where in the world did they come up with that?
Jimmi Simpson: (laughing) I don't know, crazy parents.
Well, you are brother and sister in the movie; how was the connection for you with your character?
Jimmi Simpson: Yeah, exactly. I was a little more connected to October in the initial read through. The character in the script was a bit more nice, not mean.
So what did you do to change him to make it more you?
Jimmi Simpson: Well, I tried to think of Bugs Bunny; when he was mad, but not mean.
What? Where did that one come from?
Jimmi Simpson: I'm a big cartoon fan! Bugs is my favorite.
So are you a big video game fan?
Jimmi Simpson: Oh, huge, major video game fan! That's one of the main reasons I did this movie. Not many movies out there have that element - a lot of the intensity is the video game.
The video graphics and special effects in this movie are unbelievable! What did you think when you were shooting those scenes?
Jimmi Simpson: Oh my gosh, we saw the laptop graphics when we were shooting during pre-vis (pre visualization) and it was amazing! The initial thing is on green screen; we would shoot and then be shown what it really looked like. At lunch, the guy would show us everything on his laptop and it just blew us away! But, we had seen everything early on during the shoot.
How was it being the oldest cast member and working with Frankie Muniz?
Jimmi Simpson: I didn't mind it that much; we all hung out all the time. New Orleans was great! Frankie's a great kid and he and I were in each other's trailers constantly; we would play video games.
Which one was your favorite?
Jimmi Simpson: Oh, it has to be the I Toy; we played these games and we could see each other on the TV while we were playing.
You just wrapped up Seraphin Falls with Pierce Brosnan; how was that?
Jimmi Simpson: Great! He's absolutely amazing!
Who do you play in that?
Jimmi Simpson: I play an outlaw like Pierce, but I really can't say too much more about that. But I had a great time.
You've also worked with Angela Robinson twice, first in DEBS and then in Herbie: Fully Loaded. What is it about her that makes you go back?
Jimmi Simpson: She's a great person.
Are you going to do anything else with her?
Jimmi Simpson: Yeah, we're working on something right now. For this one, she's cutting out the middle man and writing a character for me and not something I've never done before.
Finally, what do you want the fans of horror movies and video gamers to know about Stay Alive?
Jimmi Simpson: This movie is a great kind of first journey of movies and video games, of movies in video games.
Stay Alive also stars Adam Goldberg, Samaire Armstrong, and Jon Foster. It opens in theaters on March 24th; it's rated R.