Actors’ Spotlight #65: J.K. Simmons

Jonathan Kimble “J. K.” Simmons (born January 9, 1955) is an American 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 television commercials for Farmers Insurance.

Simmons’ 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.

Simmons has always been one of the best character actors working in the business and thankfully, he’s been getting more and more work to branch out big time but it’s always important to remember that even somebody as great as J.K. Simmons can star in some pretty bad movies and here are 5 of his worst:

5. New In Town

For somebody like Renee Zellweger, who’s proven her great abilities as an actress, you would think she would be smart enough to choose better projects than this load of shit. This was the PG rated romantic comedy in which Zellweger’s biggest problem with her character was that she was always cold. If you’ve seen every fish out of water story, you’ve definitely seen this one.

4. Contraband

Generic action movie #8779 with Mark Wahlberg playing a boring action hero fending off a lazy villain, his brother-in-law, whose kidnapped his wife. Just a lazy, poorly made movie.

3. Dark Skies

Generic Jason Blum thriller that was trying to be the next Paranormal Activity and failed miserably.

2. Aliens In The Attic

One of the only two movies I’ve ever walked on but wow, this movie was so shitty even by today’s kids film standards. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t clever, it wasn’t enjoyable at all, it was just painful to watch.

and the #1 worst J.K. Simmons movie is…

Terminator Genisys

This movie is so god-awful, they try to talk down to Terminator fans by saying “hey, we’re gonna keep saying that everything’s changed to make you think we’ve actually done something great here.” No, that’s not how it works at all. This movie wastes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke on a shitty Terminator movie that makes Salvation look like Terminator 2 by comparison. The movie is just a terrible movie, Paramount took the Terminator franchise and did NOTHING with it, it’s a godawful mess of a movie.

Those are the bad, now let’s look at J.K. Simmons at his absolute best:

5. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy

Gotta include his performances as J. Jonah Jameson, sometimes even better than the movies themselves…well, okay, mainly in Spider-Man 3 but he’s fantastic as J. Jonah Jameson nonetheless.

4. Up In The Air

We get it, George Clooney is one of our great actors. As much as I like him in this movie, the real stars are the director and co-writer Jason Reitman, who will surely become one of our great directors and Anna Kendrick from the Twilight movies, she steals the film and is really great as Clooney’s co-star in this movie. But that doesn’t mean she’s the only great actress in the film. Vera Farmiga as Clooney’s squeeze, Danny McBride, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, & Zack Galifianakis also deliver great performances for the time they’re in. Up In The Air, while it’s not one of George Clooney’s strongest films, is still one of the year’s best.

3. Thank You For Smoking

Jason Retiman’s first directorial outing featuring a pretty great cast including Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, William H. Macy, Rob Lowe, Katie Holmes, and many more. You gotta give the movie credit for taking this approach by making a guy who works for the cigarette industry the good guy in the film. A really great movie, very funny, very well acted, and very well shot, a truly great movie.

2. Juno

The movie that introduced the world to the smart writings of Diablo Cody and made a star out of Ellen Page, a smart very funny look at a subject that you wouldn’t think would be funny, teenage pregnancy.

and the #1 best J.K. Simmons movie is…

Whiplash

The role that J.K. Simmons was born to have, a role that won him numerous awards including a well deserved Academy Award, this is a must watch movie for J.K. at his absolute best.

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