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Interview with Michael Pitt

Jimmy in blue suit

HBO

In Episode 7, we see Jimmy at the Army hospital, and just when it seems like he's going to seek help, he and Harrow leave. Why does Jimmy refuse to take the test?

Michael Pitt

He realizes that the test isn't meant to help him. It's to find out how to make better soldiers.

HBO

How has the war changed Jimmy?

Michael Pitt

It's changed him completely. He no longer trusts the government. This war was the first time soldiers were going up against machine guns and chemical warfare. The soldiers had no idea what to expect. He comes back capable of doing inconceivable things because of what he's seen in the war.

HBO

What does he see in Harrow? And why does he decide to use him?

Michael Pitt

He sees in Harrow someone else who understands what the war was like. Someone else whose life has been shaped by it. And Harrow's also highly capable. Jimmy's starting to build a crew for himself.

HBO

Before meeting Harrow, Jimmy was taken with Pearl, a similarly wounded soul...

Michael Pitt

I think Jimmy sees a little of himself in them. He feels wounded. He's drawn to these people and wants to help them in the ways that he can.

HBO

Does Jimmy consider Capone a mentor? A friend?

Michael Pitt

He sees Capone as an accomplice. Yes, they're friendly and have a bond. He even goes to his house and meets his family. But Jimmy recognizes that Capone is too much a loose cannon to get too close to.

Even the things Jimmy is doing in Chicago, he's doing in part to impress Nucky.

HBO

How do you explain Jimmy's quick rise in Chicago?

Michael Pitt

For years, Jimmy's been by Nucky's side, learning how the business works, how to talk to people in power, and how to get what he wants. Then, the Army taught him how to do all kinds of other things. He puts both of those sets of skills to use in Chicago.  But he's still a bit lost in Chicago.

HBO

Jimmy doesn't seem to be much of a family man...

Michael Pitt

He'd like to be. He's a young man who spent the last few years of his life at war. He's still figuring some things out, but he does want to be home with his wife and kid.

HBO

How would you characterize Jimmy's relationship with Nucky?

Michael Pitt

Nucky's always been a mentor to him. He's shown him the ropes and how everything works. Even the things Jimmy is doing in Chicago, he's doing in part to impress Nucky.

HBO

One difference between Jimmy in Atlantic City and in Chicago is that he dresses sharper. Do the clothes make the man?

Michael Pitt

To an extent. Jimmy has this one suit that he bought with Capone and wears all the time. He likes the way he feels in it.

HBO

Did you do any research for the role?

Michael Pitt

Any day I wasn't filming I did everything I could to research the time period. It's such an interesting time. The '20s were almost like the '60s in terms of social upheaval. Politics, art, everything was going through a period of dramatic change.

HBO

Is the character based on any real historical figures? 

Michael Pitt

No. Even though a lot of the other gangsters are real, Jimmy is a fictional character from the mind of [series creator] Terry Winter.

HBO

What can we expect to see from Jimmy as the season progresses?

Michael Pitt

He has a very dramatic arc from he starts to where he finishes. I'll say that much.

FAN QUESTIONS

HBO

Michael Pitt graciously answered some fan questions from our Facebook page.

From Alexandra H.

How does playing Jimmy compare to your other roles?

Michael Pitt

It doesn't. I don't think I've ever done this much preparation to get into a role or a character.

From Patricia W.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of your role?

Michael Pitt

There are a lot of changes to the material, so sometimes you have to prepare without the final script.

From Connie L.

How much of yourself do you put into the role of Jimmy?

Michael Pitt

All of me and none of me. When I'm playing the character I'm giving it everything, but as a person we're not too similar.

From Grant M.

What's your favorite 'Boardwalk' scene so far?

Michael Pitt

There's a great little scene where Jimmy goes into an opium den inside a Chicago speakeasy. It's not a very dramatic scene, but the location, and just the idea of this kind of place existing- I thought it was all very interesting.

James "Jimmy" Darmody

played by Michael Pitt