J. K. Simmons
Simmons in 2007
Jonathan Kimble Simmons
January 9, 1955
Grosse Pointe, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Montana|
Michelle Schumacher (m. 1996)
Jonathan Kimble Simmons (born January 9, 1955) is an American actor and voice actor. In television, he has played 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 notable film roles include J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007), and music instructor Terence Fletcher in Whiplash (2014). 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. He has also appeared in a series of commercials for Farmers Insurance and voices the Yellow M&M.
Simmons's performance in Whiplash received widespread critical acclaim and earned him 38 accolades, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics' Choice Award and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.
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 middle school music teacher. 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.
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.
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.
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 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." 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 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 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 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 first actor to portray the same character in both a non-MCU and MCU film.
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 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.
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