6 • August 12 - August 18, 2012 • THE NEWS SUN • THE HERALD REPUBLICAN • THE STAR
Q: My husband and I were watching “Spider-Man 3” the other night and a question came up about one of the actors. Who played the editor of the newspaper that Peter Parker worked for? Is he the same man who plays the chief in “The Closer” and also does an insurance commercial? A: That is indeed J.K. Simmons in all three cases. And you could’ve picked a lot more. He’s rapidly emerged as a go-to character actor in Hollywood these days, since he appeared on the scene with his recurring role as Dr. Emil Skoda on the original “Law & Order” series in 1997. He’d only done bit parts before that, such as a nameless federal marshal in “The First Wives Club” (1996) and a coach in the 1994 baseball movie “The Scout.” But it was his role as the famously cantankerous J. Jonah Jameson in the 2000s Spider-Man franchise that started bringing him acclaim, and bigger roles. That said, he likely doesn’t spend too much time hustling for jobs since he seems to be the kind of actor who directors want to work with. He had a sizable role in Jason Reitman’s surprise 2005 indie hit, “Thank You for Smoking,” as the lead character’s unscrupulous boss. That led to a part as the pregnant, smart-mouthed teen’s supportive (and equally smart-mouthed, at times) father in Reitman’s next surprise indie hit, 2007’s “Juno,” which won an Oscar and grossed hundreds of millions worldwide (on a budget of just over $7 million). Reitman called him again for his next film, 2009’s “Up in the Air,” which was also a hit, but less of a surprise. He’s also beloved by Hollywood darlings the Coen brothers, who’ve cast him in “Burn After Reading” (2008) and “The Ladykillers” (2004) — as well as a brief, uncredited voiceover part in their 2010 remake of “True Grit.” However, the roles have never gotten too big — Simmons is still a supporting man through and through, and he’s never strayed from the small screen that made him a star. He is, of course, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope on “The Closer,” but he’s also a prolific voice actor with credits on the “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon (reprising his Jameson role), “The Legend of Korra,” and “Generator Rex,” among others. He also had a central role in “Oz,” the ultra-gritty prison drama that turned HBO from just a movie channel into a producer of cutting-edge drama series.
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