It seems that even though Simon is equally capable of playing both good guys and bad guys in general, he is also capable of portraying sympathetic bad guys and unsympathetic bad guys. Out of all the ones I’ve seen, and up to this point I’ve seen quite a few, I have only found three villains that I absolutely cannot pity in any degree whatsoever. With all of the others, for one reason or another, I find some reason to be fond of them and feel sorry for them in spite of what they’ve done.
The first unsympathetic villain is Mel Barnes, from the Bonanza episode Justice Deferred. Barnes is lustful, sadistic, and wholly unrepentant. Unlike William Poole from The Thunder Man, he shows no hints of having been a good person somewhere beyond his insanity. He has his way with women and then breaks their necks. And he is more than willing to let a look-alike of his in town take the blame and be hanged.
The second is Bolivar Jagger, from the Rawhide episode Incident of the Travellin’ Man [sic]. Bolivar is determined to do things his own way and doesn’t want anyone telling him what to do or trying to put him on a righteous path. Despite the fact that the main characters save his life, he eventually turns against them all and seriously injures more than one of them.
The third is DeCruz, from The Twilight Zone episode The Rip Van Winkle Caper. DeCruz is a robber, with no qualms about running down and killing one of his companions with his fast-moving truck. While traveling with the only other remaining party member, he charges the poor man a bar of gold for every swallow of water.
However, despite the fact that I cannot stand the characters, it is fascinating to watch them. I am amazed and awed by Simon’s ability to play them so believably, especially when he also plays such upright characters such as Captain Beechum and Tony Vincenzo. Simon was a true acting master.
His characters also have quite a way of getting under one’s skin, no matter which character it is. When I viewed The Rip Van Winkle Caper, I went to sleep later and had a rather restless time of it. A large part of my dreaming was taken up by a dream of enacting a role-play featuring the characters from that episode and trying to find a way to redeem Simon’s character DeCruz. Unfortunately, now I don’t quite remember what my dream-self was attempting to invent. Nor am I certain how one could even go about trying to redeem a fellow such as he, if he were kept in-character. But that did not stop my dream-self from trying, and in the dream, whatever she/I was doing made sense. Of course, dreams often do make sense—until we awaken.