It’s just minutes before another scene is filmed for season 1 of A&E’s series Breakout Kings, and cast members Serinda Swan [Tron Legacy], Jimmi Simpson [Date Night] and Malcolm Goodwin [American Gangster] are lounging in the basement of a faux Brooklyn hardware store in Toronto, Canada. Far away from the controlled chaos happening upstairs, it doesn’t take long before the three “Breakout Kings,” burst into various decibels of laughter while taunting one another.
It has become so cliché for actors to refer to their working unit as a family that the Breakout Kings performers don’t even go there when describing their own working relationships. Instead, their camaraderie more closely resembles a group of people who happen to all work a job they really love, and when that’s coupled with the reality that these guys play realistic cons, the laughter off screen seems all the more genuine.
Your characters are pretty bad assed, what attracted each of you to your roles?
Serinda Swan: I played a lot of, I wouldn’t necessarily say bad ass women, but I played some pretty powerful women, and this was the first time I got to play a powerful woman in combat boots. Every single time it was in heels or fishnets and things like that. Nothing is wrong with that, but it’s nice to actually play the more masculine side of a powerful woman. So, for me that’s what it was.
Jimmi Simpson: I found the craziness somewhat attractive. When I heard Serinda Swan would be doing a macho woman, I signed on tout suite. Yeah, it’s good writing and a good character.
Malcolm Goodwin: I like the fact that Shea is from pretty much from my home sweet home, New York City. I hung out in the Heights a lot, a lot in Brooklyn. I like the fact that he’s street smart, he’s educated. Everyone thinks he’s just a gang banger, which he kind of takes offense to because he did more, it kind of undermines exactly what he did, but at the same time, it protects how much power he really had in his neighborhood.
I’ve seen Jimmi in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Party Down, how difficult is it going back and forth between comedy and drama?
JS: Um, it’s not so different I think. I mean, as long as everything’s somewhat honest, not terribly different. There’s some procedure here, which kind of gives it a structure. It’s a little different from comedies, I think. Comedies are all about just kind of making people laugh, and this is about the story unfolding in a certain way. That’s the biggest difference, I think.
So Malcolm, you were in American Gangsta with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, did you pick up anything working with those guys?
MG: Well, I learned a lot from watching Denzel, just in terms of his preparation. I mean, every single day and every moment he was 100 percent prepared. I mean that really goes for all those actors on that set, Russell Crowe; everyone was just 100 percent. So, that’s the biggest thing that I took away from watching.
And Serinda, you’ve just shot for Maxim, do the guys bust your chops about that?
SS: No, they’re very kind about it. Well, that’s not true. Jimmi shot after me and he totally stole my thunder.
JS: I totally showed them how it’s done.
JS: Yeah. I saw his wardrobe, it was way better than mine. Way better. I got like a snow suit, and he got the sexiest La Perla onesie.
JS: I wanted to show off the goods. I was like, are you sure the audience is ready for this?
While doing research on you guys, it occurred to me that none of you have a real criminal past, how did you go about making these characters authentic?
MG: [He laughs] Where did you do your research?
SS: [Laughter from all] You’re gonna out me! I know for my character I actually went online and ordered the Bounty Hunter books, so I could go on and learn like the skill set of what it’s like to be her. Went out and murdered a few people. No, I just studied. I just basically went in, found out what it was like to be a bounty hunter, and went, shot some guns. Went to the shooting range, which was fun. But just kind of got into character, the character’s really heavy in the body, so it was just a couple of weeks beforehand wearing like the big boots and kind of getting your swag on, and that kind of thing, but mainly just reading. And going to jail once.
MG: Well, I had run-ins, they’re sealed. So, I won’t go into any of that stuff. I grew up in Harlem, when you just had your crew, and there were tons of gang fights stuff. I’m not a big guy, so you had to be real, real crafty and you had to be more than physical. You had to be really, really smart, which is what I like about Shea. But, he has to be really, really crafty, with how he navigates and survives in the neighborhood. So for a lot of the research, pretty much, I go home.
JS: Well the first thing I did was I read Peter Brook’s Empty Space; it’s about throwing colors and light into your character. You know, the quintessential element of this character is the absolute lack of any sex appeal. So I got these indigo blue jeans, I demanded them for this character. So, it does all the work for me.
Yeah. So zero preparation on my part.
Watch Video: Meet the Cast - Jimmi Simpson
Watch Video: Meet the Cast - Malcolm Goodwin
Watch Video: Meet the Cast - Serinda Swan