J.K. Simmons, This Is Your Year

by James Patrick Herman 3:30 PM PST, January 09, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

It takes more than a village to make an award-worthy performance -- it takes a million tiny moments that together create a film or TV show more magical than its parts. This week, ETonline talks with Golden Globe nominees about all the big and small ways stars have to align for a great idea to make it to the screen.

As a longtime character actor who has shined among ensemble casts (think: Juno’s deadpan dad or Bob, a laid off white collar worker, in two of director Jason Reitman’s Oscar-bait films), Whiplash co-star J.K. Simmons appreciated receiving the Spotlight Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. And on Sunday, he just might add a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor to his collection of accolades.

ETonline: How did the stars align on this particular project?

J.K. Simmons: Simple answer: [Whiplash’s producer] Jason Reitman sent me the script and I fell in love with it.

ETonline: What was it about this script that moved you?

Simmons: Honestly, it’s hard to pick one thing because from the first word to the last it was a complete piece of work. The whole thing was just brilliantly written.

ETonline: What about in terms of the director, Damien Chazelle?

Simmons: Well, that was a leap of faith. Because he was a young kid who had written a great script. And after meeting him, I sort of believed that he could be the one to direct it.

ETonline: How else did Jason Reitman facilitate your involvement?

Simmons: In my case, Jason was the one who brought me on board and suggested me as the actor to play this part. We’ve worked together since Thank You for Smoking, Jason’s first feature film.

ETonline: How does this remarkable role fit into the oeuvre of your career?

Simmons: I don’t know. We’ll have to decide when I get my lifetime achievement award 30 years from now.

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ETonline previously talked to fellow nominees, Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild) about their buzzy roles and director Richard Linklater on bringing Boyhood to life.