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Westworld's Jimmi Simpson worries we are dangerously close to a dystopia

The actor talks to CNET about how with today’s privacy-focused social media obsession, it's important we pay attention to prevent the Black Mirror future we all love to watch onscreen.

Simpson (right) plays real-life LAPD veteran Russell Poole.

Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network

Even if you don't recognize the name, you know Jimmi Simpson. Trust me.

Off the top of my head, I've seen him recently in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Psych, Black Mirror -- oh yeah, and Westworld

As well as starring in season two of HBO's sci-fi hit, Simpson also stars in USA Network's Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G., a 10-part limited series, the finale of which airs Tuesday night. In the reality-based show, Simpson stars as Russell Poole, an LAPD detective. His task in this fictionalized retelling is to solve the seemingly unsolvable crime of the rap world and root out corruption in the police department.

"I think that it's really a pertinent story to discuss," says Simpson. "The loss of two young men's lives -- these kind of beautiful, large, anything can happen lives are ahead of them. They just disappeared and nobody seemed to care enough."

Both men were prominent artists, gunned down during the '90s -- Tupac in Las Vegas, The Notorious B.I.G. in LA. They were in their mid-20s and there was no satisfying answer to the question of who killed them.

"We didn't seem to have the tools and a system in place to facilitate whatever was going on," says Simpson. "We were coming out of intense racial tension. In this country, and specifically in Los Angeles when this happened.

"[Their murders] fell through the cracks as far as the system is concerned. And right now, we're dealing with, I think, kind of a larger feeling of tension regarding race... And the tension is higher than it's ever been, since the '60s, at least."

This clip is from the final episode, titled Unsolved?, leading you to think maybe they *do* know who kill Pac and Biggie after all these years.

Simpson says it's playing relevant roles like this one, ones that say something about the state of the world, that resonate with him. 

"Playing roles that matter in the fabric of of what we're doing right now, [what] we're addressing with Poole, or with Black Mirror with [Charlie] Brooker's take on technology. They keep landing in the space that I consider to be important.

"When I get a role where I'm able to be a part of something that I think means something, it's another level of difficulty to me because I want to be as good as the effort."

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On Netflix's Black Mirror, Simpson brings a level of nuance and emotion to the... err, slap-happy CEO Walton on the episode Callister. In a different timeline, Walton might have been the foil of that episode. "I love the guys who have been kind of telling the future for a while," he says. "And Brooker's one of them."

Simpson (back row, middle right) played a man with no hobbies on Black Mirror.

Jonathan Prime/Netflix

"We're right now in that spot before humanity makes a decision on 'Are we going Blade Runner?' You know, are we gonna try to create an actual utopia. The only way we could is, in my opinion, by evolving, first of all."

But if we keep worrying about the tiny screens in front of us, we won't get there Simpson says.

"I think if we continue to gratify ourselves (through these artificial mediums) and we keep shutting each other out on a more personal level, I think we are bound to extinction."

Simpson also stars as William (aka Young Man in Black) on Westworld, an increasingly privacy-centered show about that very extinction possibility in the futuristic dystopia we're inadvertently driving toward.

Not that everything the future brings us is terrible.

Simpson is an avid skateboarder, dabbling near the newest craze I can't stand: motorized personal transportation.

"I did spend $1,000 on a motorized skateboard that's powered through electricity and is controlled from a Bluetooth controller. It's not a scooter, it's a full long board with no handles that is dangerous, and it goes up to 35 miles per hour up a hill. Yeah, and I almost killed myself on that four times."

Great, sounds exactly like what we need: more ways to go faster with zero regard for safety!

"Since the fourth time, I was just like, well, the thrill of this new thing has kind of embedded itself now into my life, and now I understand, so the newness is not as shiny. And also, I see the danger. So that's what we need to do with Snapchat... try it and then understand the tool, and then just use it sparingly."

Unsolved's finale airs Tuesday on USA Network and past episodes are available on Amazon Video. Check your local listings for timing and channel.

For even more Westworld, check out our coverage of season two so far, and our new after show below covering all the theories of each episode. There we'll share more from our interview with Jimmi Simpson in the coming weeks!