Dark Matter stars Jimmi Simpson and Jennifer Connelly talk playing different versions of the same character in the new sci-fi drama

Dark Matter
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Dark Matter stars Jennifer Connelly and Jimmi Simpson play different versions of their respective characters in the new Apple sci-fi thriller – and both had a blast doing it.

Warning: Spoilers for Dark Matter episode 7 below!

"I like different characters for different iterations of the character, I should say, for different reasons. I like Daniela 1, kind of like a home base. She's our protagonist and she's kind of warm and accessible and kind but really strong and forthright," Connelly tells GamesRadar+.  "I liked her as a person. It was fun to play Daniella 2. And, in her really different circumstances, blonde Daniella – it's just one scene, but that was kind of fun."

Connelly plays Daniela Desson, wife to scientist and professor Jason Desson (Joel Edgerton). After Jason is kidnapped by a version of him from an alternate reality,  Jason 1 uses a machine built by Jason 2 in attempt to return home to the correct reality. On the way, Jason encounters several versions of Daniela, from one who simply moved on and never married him to one who is dying of the plague.

"They're just almost tableaus," Connelly continues. "It's matter of clocking that we have to tell a story sort of visually – so defining the characters with different hair, different vis choices, aesthetic choices of how she presents herself. Some of it is just like marking difference. And then some of it, with Daniela 2, we had more time to spend with that character. We could think about it more in that way. Like, who was this woman? And get more into the story of why she presented in a certain way."

Dark Matter

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Simpson plays Ryan, who is more or less the antidote to Jason in every universe. When it comes to Jason 1, Ryan 1 is the longtime friend who went on to become a successful scientist, whereas Jason chose family instead. Ryan 2 is more timid and far less successful, allowing Jason 2's intense and arrogant personality to take center stage. Ryan 3 (my personal favorite) owns a garage in Chicago and doesn't know Jason at all.

"Sweet Ryan. Ryan 3. I love a little bit of a challenge, especially in acting. And so to be able to play Ryan 1, a guy who's had a little bit of an easier time than me personally as Jimmi – to be able to play and ride that confidence was really fun. And then to a guy who's had way less breaks than me and 2, but still retained that kind of sardonic hard, pleasant soul was fun too," Simpson tells GR+.

"And to play that reality, the physical reality that would change from a guy who's way more passive than me. But then, like you said, Ryan 3 was such a departure from me because this man who has the same soul as me, but for whatever reason, just had to become submissive due to circumstances and accept every single thing that was the hardest guy to play because [it's] the furthest from me, while I was trying to use my own soul as the backbone for Ryan."

Though Jason 1's goal is to get home to Daniela, all three versions of Ryan get stuck in the mess – all thanks to the selfish, sinister actions of Jason 2.

Simpson continues: "So when I'd already determined that, and this had to have the same soul as Ryan 1 and 2, they are the same soul, just different situational experiences and you know, like keep the accent a little in Chicago because he never broke out. So it was a lot of fun, all of them. But yeah, Ryan 3 is great."

Dark Matter is streaming now on Apple TV Plus. For more, check out our chat with Blake Crouch about helming his own novel adaptation

For more, check out our list of the best new TV shows in 2024 and beyond, or, check out our chat with Dark Matter producer Matt Tolmach about how Jason Dessen is a lot like the Green Goblin, why the series stood out to star Jennifer Connelly, or our chat with Blake Crouch about why helming his own adaptation made perfect sense.

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.