WATCH: J.K. Simmons on playing dual parallel dimension roles in Counterpart

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Dec 8, 2017, 4:02 PM EST (Updated)

Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons (Justice League) will be undertaking the challenging task of playing two very different versions of the same character in Starz’s upcoming Counterpart, a spy-thriller with a sci-fi twist because: parallel universes!

Simmons spoke with SYFY WIRE's Tara Bennett about playing two very nuanced characters on the 10-episode TV series created by Justin Marks (The Jungle Book) — one being a superspy and the other a bit of an underachiever — and revealed that he was actually drawn to the part of one character before he even realized that there were actually two of them.


"I was actually drawn to the character before I got to the part of the script where we realized there were two versions of the character," Simmons told SYFY WIRE. "So I was hooked from very early on and then yeah, I won't lie, it was a little bit daunting to think 'well, it's gonna be a lot of hours at the office playing these two characters,' and actually Justin and I had that conversion early on and he said 'Look, this is gonna be… it's a very complex kind of espionage thriller and yes you are, you know, Number One and Number One A on the call sheet, but as our stories expand and our world expands and we have a lot of other characters coming in it's not gonna be all reliant on you all the time."

Hmm... we wonder if Simmons asked Tatiana Maslany about playing multitude of clones on Orphan Black or Noomi Rapace who portrayed identical septuplets in What Happened to Monday?

The man who plays the new Commissioner Gordon on the DCEU went on to explain how he was first attracted to 'underachiever' Howard before he got to know 'superspy' Howard.

"I felt I identified with the first version of Howard that I read — the one who could certainly be called an underachiever," Simmons explained. "He's a really good person; he just hasn't achieved in his professional life what maybe he should have. So I viewed the whole thing really from his perspective initially and as I began playing the other version of Howard and began seeing his perspective more and more it really did become the mano-a-mano kind of internal debate as well as the one that we see on camera."

There's much more in our interview with Simmons, so we invite you to take a deep dive into the video above. Counterpart is slated to premiere Jan. 21, 2018 on Starz.

Additional material by Nathalie Caron.

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