We sat down with actor Alimi Ballard to chat about his hit show NUMB3RS, which centers around an FBI agent and his brother, a professor, who uses mathematics to crack complex, tricky cases. We went behind the scenes with Alimi as he revealed secrets about the script writing, the inside pranks between the cast and an episode that sadly predicted the future.
CT: COULD A TEAM LIKE THIS EXIST IN THE REAL WORLD?
AB: When we first started, FBI agents told us it really happened. They couldn’t find these bank robbers who were operating all over the country, and a mathematician heard about the case, called the FBI and helped create the predictive analysis of where these guys might strike next. Of course they (the FBI) laughed a little bit. He gave them the next bank based on the kind of things the guys had chosen like the areas, times they hit, and sure enough, two FBI agents were sitting in the bank when the guys walked in.
CT: DO YOU HAVE TO SEE ALL EPISODES TO KEEP TRACK OF THE STORYLINE?
AB: You can pick it up anywhere. That’s by design. They actually did that on purpose. They (the episodes) are kind of independent, but they are themed.
CT: ARE ANY OF THE CASES BASED ON REAL LIFE?
AB: Yes, there are some. We shot an episode recently about a train collision. It was incredible; people were dying, and we had to get inside the train car and rip it open. We were all very proud of it, but two weeks later was the Chatsworth Metrolink accident. It was exactly like what we had shot, except there were hundreds of firefighters.
CT: I’VE ALSO INTERVIEWED A.J. COOK FROM CRIMINAL MINDS, AND SHE SAID THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO THEM WITH A SCHOOL SHOOTING AND THEY CANCELED THAT EPISODE. DID THAT HAPPEN WITH YOU GUYS?
AB: Yeah, they pushed it back a month. They did promos and Rob Morrow filmed PSAs that said it was written and shot weeks before this happened. It was really somber and really serious.
CT: HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR ROLE? DID YOU TALK WITH ANY REAL
AB: Yeah, absolutely! We got to meet the Assistant Director of the Washington Field Office of the FBI. They are serious people!
CT: WAS THERE ANYTHING THERE THAT SURPRISED YOU?
AB: I held John Dillenger’s gun. They have items from James Bond, a cane gun – a cane that’s a real gun – a lighter gun, all of these things that you see in movies. Some of these things are really old – 30 to 40 years old – in this vault, and we got a chance to see some things from Al Capone.
CT: WHAT IS IT LIKE ON SET? DO YOU PLAY ANY PRANKS ON EACH OTHER?
AB: The thing we love to do is break each other’s concentration. If you have a really important scene to do, it’s my job to see if you cannot do it as well.
CT: DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME SOMEONE ASKED FOR YOUR AUTOGRAPH?
AB: It was quite a few years ago. Someone scared the living daylights out of me. That I do remember. I was on the train going to work and as the door was closing, this 12-year-old girl reached in and clawed my shoulder. I thought I was being attacked on the crowded subway. She was like, “Ahhh, I love you!” So that always stands out in my mind, that a small girl could scare the living daylights out of me.Share this Post[?]