J. K. Simmons
Simmons in 2009
Jonathan Kimble Simmons
January 9, 1955
Grosse Pointe, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Montana|
|Spouse(s)||Michelle Schumacher (m. 1996)|
Jonathan Kimble Simmons (born January 9, 1955) is an American television, film, and voice actor. In television, he is known for his work by playing Dr. Emil Skoda on the NBC series Law & Order, Vernon Schillinger on the HBO series Oz, and Assistant Police Chief Will Pope on TNT's The Closer. From 2017 to 2019, he starred as Howard Silk in the Starz series Counterpart.
His film roles include J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007), and music instructor Terence Fletcher in Whiplash (2014) for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He is known for voicing Cave Johnson in the video game Portal 2 (2011), Tenzin in The Legend of Korra (2012–2014), Stanford Pines in Gravity Falls (2015–2016), Kai in Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) and Mayor Lionheart in Zootopia (2016). He reprised his role as Jameson in various Marvel media unrelated to the Sam Raimi trilogy, including multiple animated series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). He has also appeared in a series of commercials for Farmers Insurance, and also voices the Yellow M&M. He also starred in the third season of the IFC comedy series Brockmire. In 2020, he had a recurring role on the Apple TV+ miniseries Defending Jacob as Billy Barber.
Simmons's performance in Whiplash received widespread critical acclaim and earned him many accolades, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics' Choice Award and BAFTA Award as "Best Actor in a Supporting Role".
Simmons was born on January 9, 1955, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, the son of Patricia (née Kimble), an administrator, and Donald William Simmons, a music teacher at Parcells Middle School. One of three children, J.K. Simmons attended Ferry Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods. In 1965, when he was 10 years old, his family moved to Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. From 1970–1972, Simmons attended Worthington High School, where he participated in drama, football, and choir. 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. The younger Simmons graduated from the University of Montana in 1978 with a music degree. During his tenure, he became a member of the music-oriented fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Later, Simmons moved to Seattle and became a member of the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Simmons would from there on make his way up in the acting world. Simmons eventually landed a role in Broadway in 1992.
On Broadway, Simmons played Benny Southstreet in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls. In 1994, he sang multiple roles in the Wagner opera satire, Das Barbecü. 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. During his time on Broadway, Simmons also played the role of Captain Hook for the show Peter Pan during his tour in 1992.
Film and television roles
Simmons made his first appearance in a live action television role in the show Popeye Doyle. He started off as just a patrol officer of the park in the show. The next year Simmons landed another role for All My Children, where he played the role as RCMP sergeant. 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 a precursor to 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 series 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. Simmons played J. Jonah Jameson, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Daily Bugle, in all three of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films, 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 as the father of Paul Rudd's character.
Throughout 2011-2018, Simmons was a prime time voice actor for the Adult Swim stop-motion series Robot Chicken. Simmons performed various voices for several characters over the last couple of years. For example, one of the characters that he played was Vernon Schillinger (in 2011) for a singular episode. In 2011 and 2014, he also made a surprise to fans as he voiced Master Chief for various scenes throughout two episodes. Lastly in 2018, he voiced the widely known J. Jonah Jameson for an episode.
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. 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 winning an Academy Award 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." 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." On January 11, 2015, Simmons won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on February 22, 2015.
In January 2015, Simmons was cast in a leading role in the film Kong: Skull Island, though he and Michael Keaton later exited the film. 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 Raimi's 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 once being reminded he works at a poetry journal, and so demands "poems about Spider-Man").[original research?] 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 2015, he appeared as the German expatriate Sebastian in the Greek drama film Worlds Apart. In 2016, Simmons lent his voice to two animated films, voicing the antagonist Kai in Kung Fu Panda 3 and Mayor Lionheart in Zootopia.
Simmons reprised his role as the voice of J. Jonah Jameson in the animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. In friend Reitman's film Young Adult, he voiced the protagonist's boss, via a series of voicemails. 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.
In 2016, the film Patriots Day portrayed Simmons in the realistic action packed movie as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese.
In 2017, Simmons portrayed Commissioner James Gordon in Zack Snyder's film Justice League, part of the DC Extended Universe. It is unknown whether or not Simmons will make a return to DC as the role of Commissioner James Gordon due to the overwhelming changes that have been done to production to the studio. The next DC movie that could possibly portray Simmons as Gordon would be around 2022, as there are no main upcoming DC movies that could include the role of Gordon in the film.
In the field of television commercials, Simmons is widely known for being the voice of the yellow M&M, a role he has played since 1996, replacing John Goodman. He has also done voice-over work for Norelco razors. In live-action, he is featured as Professor Nathaniel Burke of the University of Farmers in ads for Farmers Insurance Group, since 2010.
In 2019, Simmons reprised his role of J. Jonah Jameson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: Far From Home, as a cameo in the mid-credits scene. He is the second actor to portray the same character in both a non-MCU and MCU film, following Lou Ferrigno as the voice of the Hulk. Simmons is expected to continue his role from the MCU, as J. Jonah Jameson, in the next Spider-man film where he could possibly portray more scenes as the head Daily Bugle editor.
In 2020, he had a brief cameo as Frank Dillman on the police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He also narrated the Netflix limited series documentary Coronavirus, Explained and co-starred in the critically acclaimed sci-fi/comedy Palm Springs, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and Hulu in July.
Since 2014, Simmons was voicing Lenny Turtletaub in the animated show BoJack Horseman. The show has recently concluded its final season in 2020 after six seasons of production, Simmons however is anticipated to still voice future animated shows this upcoming decade.
In 2021, Simmons will be in the new Marvel movie Morbius. In this action packed movie, Simmons will most likely be reprising his role as the Daily Bugle head: J.Jonah Jameson. It's anticipated to be connected with the MCU, but there are no current details that expand on that matter.
Also in 2021, Simmons is expected to have a role in the upcoming military themed movie The Tomorrow War. As of right now, both films Morbius and The Tomorrow War are the two main projects that he will be in 2021. Due to COVID-19 it's uncertain whether or not Simmons will continue acting for "new" movies or tv-shows that haven't been filmed yet. As of right now, the only two films that are currently in place for Simmons is Morbius and The Tomorrow War.
In 2005, Simmons also reprised his role of J. Jonah Jameson, as a voice actor, for the PSP version of Spider-Man 2: The Video Game. Later in 2007, he also voiced the same character of Jameson in the next game of the series: Spider-Man 3: The Video Game. Simmons, also in 2007, decided to voice Jameson one last time in Stern Pinball: Spider-Man.
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."
In 2011, Simmons also appeared in Generator Rex: Agent of Providence, as White Knight, this performance was unique due to how Simmons was unexpected to be assumed as the voice actor for the role. Simmons would not appear in future productions of this series.
In April 2011, he appeared in Portal 2 as the voice of Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson, a performance that was lauded as the "surprise star turn" of the game. He reprised his role as Cave Johnson in the 2015 video game Lego Dimensions.
Simmons and his wife, Michelle Schumacher, have two children. Their daughter, Olivia Simmons, has appeared in two films, The Only Good Indians, which was released in 2009, and I'm Not Here, from 2017. Son Joe Simmons has also made occasional appearances in low-budget films. Simmons admits in an interview that he encouraged their interest in acting.
Simmons is an avid fan of the Detroit Tigers. He threw the ceremonial first pitch for the Tigers on April 6, 2015, for Opening Day. He played the Tigers' manager in For Love of the Game (1999). He is also a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, having spent his formative years in Ohio.
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… actor J.K. Simmons in 1955 (age 65)
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