Celebrating his 62nd birthday today is J.K. Simmons, an actor with one of the most intimidating and unique presences in whatever movie or TV show he appears on. Simmons' first big screen role came in 1994's The Ref as a military man being blackmailed by a cadet over lacivious photos of himself with a prostitute, and in the 20 years since has left an indelible mark on Hollywood.
Throughout his massive career, he's amassed close to 180 roles in movies and TV, and considering his first theatrical credit came when he was 42, inspires everyone to follow their dreams, no matter what their age might be.
What's your favorite movie of J.K. Simmons? Let us know in the comments!
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Vern Schillinger - OZ
One of Simmons' earliest roles, and to this day one of his most memorable, was as a white supremacist in HBO's prison drama OZ. Throughout the course of the show, there were no lengths Schillinger wouldn't go to unleash his anger and brutality at anyone who stood in his way. Simmons quickly gained notoriety and acclaim for his fearless portrayal of the ruthless racist.
J. Jonah Jameson - Spider-Man
A few years after demonstrating his skills of fear and intimidation on OZ, Simmons took those qualities but, in a film with a slightly different tone, demonstrated his talent as a comedic actor. In the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films, Simmons played Jameson, the tenacious editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle who aimed to make Spider-Man and Peter Parker's lives a living Hell. Simmons left his unique mark on the character and wholly embodied the character from the comics, cementing JJJ's mark as one of the world's worst bosses. His portrayal was so successful, in fact, that he's gone on to voice the character in a variety of Marvel animated series and movies.
Chief Will Pope - The Closer
If intense prison dramas aren't your thing or you prefer The Amazing Spider-Man to the Raimi films (what is wrong with you?), then perhaps you're most familiar with Simmons' role as Chief Pope on the Kyra Sedgwick-starring crime drama The Closer. Pope built a reputation as doing whatever it took to close cases, no matter whose orders he follows or ignores, no matter if he's punished or praised, he just wants to get the job done. The tension between Pope and Sedgwick's Brenda Johnson's made for some pretty interesting TV, especially as we saw the two change and evolve over seven years and more than 100 episodes.
Mac MacGuff - Juno
We've seen a scary Simmons and a silly Simmons, and with Juno, he got to show a slightly softer side of himself as the dad of a pregnant teenager in Juno. The script is incredibly clever and Ellen Page is fantastic in the lead role, thanks to her vulnerability and overwhelming confusion about her situation. Simmons was able to provide guidance and support to the confused teen without ever betraying the witty script. With Juno, Simmons made us all wish we had a dad like MacGuff.
Terence Fletcher - Whiplash
It had been almost two decades since portraying his most terrifying villain, going on to play comedic and dramatic roles, but Simmons proved he could flip the switch that turned on the terror when he embodied Terence Fletcher, a jazz instructor who would stop at nothing to turn his students into the best musicians they could be. From verbally berating them to physically intimidating them, Fletcher embraced every awful teacher you've ever had whose main goal was to motivate you to accomplish anything if only to prove them wrong. The role earned Simmons a variety of awards, including the Golden Globe Award and Academy Award for his performance, and will always make us question whether we are rushing or we are dragging.