J. K. Simmons

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J. K. Simmons
JK Simmons 2009.jpg
Simmons in 2009
Born Jonathan Kimble Simmons
(1955-01-09) January 9, 1955 (age 62)
Grosse Pointe, Michigan, U.S.
Alma mater University of Montana
Occupation
  • Actor
  • voice actor
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Michelle Schumacher (m. 1996)
Children 2

Jonathan Kimble "J. K." Simmons (born January 9, 1955) is an American character actor and voice actor. In television, he is known for playing Dr. Emil Skoda on the NBC series Law & Order (and other Law & Order franchise series), neo-Nazi Vernon Schillinger on the HBO prison-drama Oz, and Assistant Police Chief Will Pope on TNT's The Closer. His film roles include J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and music instructor Terence Fletcher in 2014's Whiplash. He is also known for voicing Cave Johnson in the video game Portal 2 (2011), Tenzin in The Legend of Korra (2012), Stanford Pines in Gravity Falls, Kai in Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016), Mayor Lionheart in Zootopia (2016), and Khampa in Rock Dog (2016). Simmons also reprised his role as J. Jonah Jameson in various Marvel animated series and video games. He has also appeared in a series of highly popular television commercials for Farmers Insurance.

Simmons's performance in Whiplash (2014) received widespread critical acclaim and earned him more than thirty accolades, including the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2017, Simmons will portray Commissioner James Gordon in Zack Snyder's Justice League (2017) as part of the DC Extended Universe and will reprise the character in Matt Reeves's The Batman.[1]

Early life

Jonathan Kimble Simmons was born on January 9, 1955 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit,[2][3] the son of Patricia (née Kimble), an administrator, and Donald William Simmons, a middle school music teacher.[4][5][6] In 1965, when he was 10 years old, his family moved to Worthington, Ohio.[2] In 1973, when he was 18, they moved to Missoula, Montana, where his father became director of the School of Music at the University of Montana.[2] The younger Simmons graduated from the University of Montana[7][8] in 1978 with a music degree. During his tenure, he was also part of the music-oriented fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.[9] Later, Simmons moved to Seattle and became a member of the Seattle Repertory Theatre.[7]

Career

Broadway

On Broadway, Simmons played Benny Southstreet in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls.[10] In 1994 he sang multiple roles in the Wagner opera satire, Das Barbecü.[7] He also played the role of Jigger in a revival of Carousel with the Houston Grand Opera and starred in the 1987 Off-Broadway musical Birds of Paradise.

Film and television roles

He is known for his roles as Dr. Emil Skoda, a police psychiatrist who has appeared on three of the four incarnations of Law & Order and New York Undercover, and as sadistic neo-Nazi inmate Vernon Schillinger on the prison drama Oz. He also stars as Ralph Earnhardt, the father of race-car driver Dale Earnhardt, in 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story. He plays Will Pope, Assistant Chief of the LAPD, in the series The Closer. In the show Raising Hope he plays Burt Chance's brother Bruce Chance. In an interesting precursor to his joining the Law & Order cast as Skoda, Simmons appeared in Homicide: Life on the Street, portraying a criminal in a Law & Order cross-over episode. Other roles include that of an army general in the television sitcom Arrested Development, and Dan the Barber in the surreal Nickelodeon kid's show The Adventures of Pete & Pete in 1995.

He played B.R. in the film Thank You for Smoking (2005) and has been praised for his performance in Juno (2007) as "Mac" McGuff, the title character's father. In all three of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films, Simmons played J. Jonah Jameson, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Daily Bugle (as well as in the expanded video game adaptation of Spider-Man 3). In 2008, he played a CIA superior in Burn After Reading and appeared in Postal as Candidate Welles. He also appeared in I Love You, Man.

Simmons starred in several films produced or directed by his friend Jason Reitman, including Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Jennifer's Body. In 2013, he had a small role as Mr. Jervis in Reitman's film Labor Day. He voices Tenzin, an Airbending master and the son of Aang and Katara, in the 2012 Nickelodeon series The Legend of Korra. He starred as blind lawyer "Mel Fisher" in Growing Up Fisher.[11] From 2015 to 2016, he voiced the scientist Stanford Pines on the Disney XD cartoon series Gravity Falls.

In the 2014 drama film Whiplash, Simmons played Terence Fletcher, an intensely demanding conductor at the fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music, who bullies and cajoles his student, Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller). The wide acclaim for Simmons's performance included an Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actor. Rolling Stone said "Beat the drums for an Oscar for Simmons." Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times said "Simmons delivers one of the most memorable performances of the year."[12] Entertainment Weekly summed up the reaction by saying Simmons's performance "has been universally praised" and that he was "a leading contender for Best Supporting Actor."[13] On January 11, 2015, Simmons won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture[14] and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on February 22, 2015.[15]

In January 2015, Simmons was cast in a leading role in the upcoming film Kong: Skull Island,[16] though he and Michael Keaton later exited the film.[17] Simmons performed a substantial number of voice-over roles alongside his live action work. Several of these have arisen from his J. Jonah Jameson character in Spider-Man films, including voices of two newspaper editors in episodes of the eighteenth season of The Simpsons. While unnamed, these characters are clearly meant to emulate Jameson (one, bearing Jameson's appearance, demands "pictures of Spider-Man," then one being reminded he works at a poetry journal, and so demands "poems about Spider-Man"). Likewise, Simmons voiced an editor-in-chief of a newspaper (with Jameson's appearance and mannerisms) for a 2013 episode of The Hub's Pound Puppies. In 2016, Simmons lent his voice to two animated films, voicing the antagonist Kai in Kung Fu Panda 3 and Mayor Lionheart in Zootopia. Worlds Apart is a 2015 Greek drama film directed by Christoforos Papakaliatis. Worlds Apart consists of three separate narratives, each following a love story between a foreigner and a Greek. Each story represents a different generation falling in love during a time of socioeconomic turmoil that dominates Southern Europe as a whole, only to connect as a single story in the end. Simmons stars as Sebastian.

Simmons reprised his role as the voice of J. Jonah Jameson in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and Avengers Assemble. He has also expressed interest in reprising the role in Sony and Marvel Studios' upcoming reboot of the Spider-Man film series, scheduled for a 2017 release.[18] In friend Reitman's film Young Adult, he voiced the protagonist's boss, via a series of voicemails, and also provides the voice of the yellow M&M in the product's commercials, as well as for the 3-D film I Lost My M in Vegas, playing at M&M's World in Las Vegas. He has also done voice-over work for Norelco razors. He also provided the voice of General Wade Eiling in Justice League Unlimited. He recorded an audiobook for Tom Clancy's Net Force: Point of Impact. He also played James Gordon in the 2017 film Justice League and its sequel in 2019.[19] In October 2016, it was revealed Simmons will reprise his role as Gordon in the Ben Affleck stand-alone Batman film The Batman.[1]

In the field of television commercials, Simmons is featured as Professor Nathaniel Burke of the University of Farmers in ads for Farmers Insurance Group, since 2010.[20]

Video games

Simmons appears as the anti-communist U.S. President Howard T. Ackerman in the video game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 and for a series of promotional advertisements parodying the 2008 presidential elections. In these advertisements, he offers himself (as Ackerman) as an alternative to other, unnamed presidential candidates and uses the slogan "Vote for me, if you want to live."[21]

In April 2011, he appeared in Portal 2 as the voice of Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson,[22] a performance that was lauded as the "surprise star turn" of the game.[23] He reprised his role as Cave Johnson in the 2015 video game Lego Dimensions.

Personal life

Simmons and his wife, Michelle Schumacher, have two children: Joe and Olivia.[24]

Simmons is an avid fan of the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball. He threw the ceremonial first pitch for the Tigers on April 6, 2015 for Opening Day.[25] He also played the Tigers' manager in For Love of the Game (1999).

Simmons is also a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, having spent his formative years in Ohio.[26]

Awards and nominations

References

  1. ^ a b "Ben Affleck and J. K. Simmons on the Solo Batman film (UPDATE)". Comingsoon.net. September 30, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c The Detroit Free Press, "Tribute From The Heart", by Julie Hinds, February 24, 2015, page A1
  3. ^ "J.K. Simmons". TVGuide.com. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ "J. K. Simmons Biography". filmreference.com. 
  5. ^ "Jonathan Kimble ("J. K.") Simmons". rootsweb.com. 
  6. ^ "Patricia 'Pat' Kimble Simmons". missoulian.com. 
  7. ^ a b c "J. K. Simmons Biography". Yahoo! Movies. 
  8. ^ "Wichita Eagle: Search Results". newsbank.com. 
  9. ^ "sinfonia.org". 
  10. ^ "J. K. Simmons". playbillvault.com. 
  11. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (February 21, 2014). "The Fun of Having a Single Parent". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Whiplash". 
  13. ^ "J.K. Simmons: The friendly face behind this year's scariest movie villain". 
  14. ^ "J.K. Simmons Wins Golden Globe for 'Whiplash' Role". 
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (February 22, 2015). "J.K. Simmons Wins Oscar for Best Supporting Actor". Variety. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  16. ^ "J.K. Simmons Reveals Kong: Skull Island Details; Keaton All But Confirms Involvement". 
  17. ^ "Michael Keaton And JK Simmons Exit Legendary's 'Kong: Skull Island'". 
  18. ^ VanMetre, Elizabeth (February 28, 2016). "EXCLUSIVE: J.K. Simmons Reacts to 'Spider-Man' Petition Calling for His Return: 'I'll Never Close the Door on Anything'". Entertainment Tonight. Archived from the original on March 2, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
  19. ^ "'Justice League' Adds J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon (Exclusive)". 
  20. ^ "University of Farmers Insurance". The Inspiration Room. 
  21. ^ Red Alert Universe > Factions > Factions, Units, & Characters, President Ackerman character information.
  22. ^ Miller, Greg (March 11, 2011). "PAX: Portal 2 Nabs J.K. Simmons". IGN. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Edge Online - Video game features, reviews & industry jobs". Edge Online. Archived from the original on August 29, 2011. 
  24. ^ Porter, Rick (February 23, 2015). "J.K. Simmons' wife, Michelle Schumacher, is the star of his 2015 Oscars speech". Zap2it. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  25. ^ Tony Paul, The Detroit News (March 26, 2015). "Actor J.K. Simmons to throw out first pitch Opening Day". Detroit News. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  26. ^ Nolan, Katie (October 20, 2016). "Interview with J.K. Simmons". Garbage Time with Katie Nolan. Fox Sports 1. 

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jared Leto
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
2014
Succeeded by
Mark Rylance
Preceded by
Blake Shelton
Saturday Night Live host
January 31, 2015
Succeeded by
Dakota Johnson
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