A&E’s newest show, Breakout Kings, is about second chances. The show follows a rag-tag team of U.S. Marshals and not-so-bad convicts as they track down fugitives that represent the “worst of the worst” in the prison system. For their cooperation, they get transferred to a minimum security prison and get a month shaved off their time for each bad guy caught – if any of them tries to make a run for it, the deal is off and their sentence is doubled.
The show itself also got a second chance from A&E, which bought the show from Fox after they declined to move forward with it. With a programming guide already chock full of fugitive-tracking reality shows, it’s a natural fit.
While the cast is brimming with familiar faces, the one actor that really stands out is Jimmi Simpson. The actor has cut his comedic teeth on shows like 24, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Psych, My Name is Earl, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Now he’s bringing a much needed dose of humor to Breakout Kings as genius psychologist-cum-gambling addict Dr. Lloyd Lowery.
“He’s a bit of a wise-ass,” says Simpson. “He’s kind of funny sometimes; he’s a little annoying sometimes. The show, because it has the freedom of character, allows for comedy within this kind of structure.”
Viewers will likely have to crack a dictionary to keep up with the good doctor, who often conceals what he reveals with complicated psychological terminology.
While the show’s other characters are left scratching their heads, Simpson says playing a Mensa member has its perks. “I like being given the freedom to actually observe everything that’s going around. And, normally, when you are playing a part that has somewhat of an intellect, a substantial intellect, you’re allowed to kind of watch stuff a little bit more, and that’s one of my favorite things about acting, is watching what everybody else is doing.”
For executive producers Nick Santora and Matt Olmstead, casting this genius was a no-brainer. “I had popped in an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia DVD into Matt’s office… and Jimmi comes up in the scene and Olmstead goes ‘Oh shit! Jimmi Simpson. I worked with him on NYPD Blue. That guy is a genius’”, explained Santora.
Unknown to them, their casting director pulled in Jimmi Simpson for the first reading ever for the show. It was an easy choice. “We were like, ‘okay, that’s one down, five to go’,” said Santora, who also worked with Olmstead on Fox’s Prison Break.
Although Santora and Olmstead stress the differences with Prison Break, they revealed that Break fan favorite “T-Bag,” played to sinister perfection by Bob Knepper, will cameo as a wayward criminal in one episode.
If you’re tired of the same old cop show, then tune into Breakout Kings on A&E Sunday’s at 10 pm, et/pt.