The Oscar winner spoke with ET about playing the iconic Gotham City Police Commissioner in 'Justice League,' and how he's trying to develop the character's 'badass' side.
After playing J. Jonah Jameson, the cigar-chomping editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle, in director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, J.K. Simmons is stepping into the rain-soaked shoes of Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon in the hotly anticipated Justice League, and he says he's looking to bring a different kind of ruggedness to the role.
ET's Ashley Crossan recently sat down with the Oscar winner to talk about taking on the iconic role, and Simmons recalled how daunting the opportunity felt when he first met with director Zack Snyder.
"I don't know anything about show business," Simmons hilariously prefaced his account of his first meeting with the blockbuster director. "My agent called and said, 'Zack Snyder wants to meet with you,' and I was like, 'Awesome. Who's that?' And he was like, 'He's like one of the biggest directors.' Not even like, 'This is what it's about,' just, 'Go meet.'"
"So we went and met and hit it off, 'cause he's a great guy, and we were several minutes into the meeting when I kind of saw this quizzical look and he goes, 'You have no idea why you're here, do you?'" the Whiplash star continued. "He said, 'Commissioner Gordon. I want you to play Commissioner Gordon.'"
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Simmons said that he was excited by the offer, but also found it "immediately kind of intimidating," because of the iconic nature of the character and the pedigree of the stars who have portrayed him in the past -- including Gary Oldman, who played Gordon in all the films in director Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. But he's certainly embraced the role so far.
"It was great to get my feet wet in the first [Justice League], we say, hoping there will be more," Simmons said. "That's the plan."
As for Simmons' vision for Gordon's development, in both the first Justice League installment and beyond, the star says he wants to incorporate some of the rough-and-tumble grit that the character has in many other iterations.
"I think as we delve further into Jim Gordon, and the planned sequel, what I'm hoping to find is some of his sort of tough guy, badass [qualities]," Simmons explained.
In most comic story lines, and in the many animated Batman films, Gordon served in the U.S. Marine Corps before signing on to the Gotham City PD, and some stories present him as a special forces veteran who is more than capable with firearms and hand-to-hand combat.
"There have been so many incarnations of him, obviously in print and also on screen," Simmons said, "and I think one of the aspects that I found the most interesting about him as I did my research, with my comic book nerd friends mostly, was that [he is] a tough guy."
While Simmons has taken on this new role in the DC Universe, there is now a J. Jonah Jameson-shaped void in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and many fans worry that the studio might try to find someone else to play the role in the inevitable sequels to Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Trying to recast wouldn't exactly be a popular choice, considering how perfect Simmons was as the gruff newspaperman, and it raises the question of whether or not the actor could or would reprise the character, given his new role in Gotham City.
"Never say never," Simmons said, coyly. "I had an amazing time with Sam Raimi and those movies… that was a great, great time and huge for my career and my life and just pure fun."
The star admitted that if there was "an opportunity to revisit" that world, it might be a pretty attractive possibility.
In the meantime, fans can check the star out in his latest heartwarming indie dramedy The Bachelors -- co-starring Julie Delpy, Josh Wiggins and Odeya Rush -- which is currently in theaters and available on VOD.