JK Simmons says the ‘SPIDER-MAN’ trilogy “will always be a big highlight of my career and my life.” “Sam Raimi is one of my favorite directors and human beings.”
These days, J.K. Simmons seemed to be everywhere. In the year 2021, the acclaimed 66-year-old actor participated in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, voiced characters in animated films like Invincible, Infinity Train, and The Great North, and still has blockbusters The Tomorrow War and Spider-Man: No Way Home on the way. While it’s tempting to point to his Oscar-winning performance in Whiplash from 2014 as his pinnacle achievement, Simmons still has great memories of his role as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s earlier Spider-Man trilogy.
Simmons’ career took off after he played the abrasive Daily Bugle editor in Raimi’s three Spider-Man films—you can even find some parallels between JJJ and Whiplash’s Fletcher if you squint—but he was noticeably absent from Marc Webb’s web-slinger 2012 remake starring Andrew Garfield. In fact, with the exception of one crammed email conversation in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Jameson was never even mentioned in those movies. Audiences were simply left to believe that the Daily Bugle’s grumpy editor-in-chief was the victim of a plot twist, and to question who could possibly fill Simmons‘ famous epic roles.
All of that changed in 2019. Simmons had previously stated that he would be interested in repeating the role. So he leaped at the chance to resurrect Jameson in Spider-Man: Far From Home when Sony approached him. His appearance in the film’s post-credits sequence is still remembered as one of the most memorable moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“Having the chance to kind of reinvent the character, I was eager to hold on to the things I really enjoyed about it while also being fully open to letting go of some of it and understanding we are in a more current version of that universe,” Simmons says today. “Hopefully, we’ve discovered the sweet spot.”
Moviegoers were ecstatic to see Jameson back on the big screen, and their attention was drawn to Spider-Man as usual. In December’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, they’ll get even more of a look at him. Simmons compared his original Jameson interpretation to the current one and found no change. Except for the absence of the characteristic flattop haircut.
The discrepancies in Simmons’ readings are mostly due to hair, or the lack thereof, according to Simmons.
Jameson has remained a cigar-chomping hothead throughout the five films, ready to identify Spider-Man as a threat. While Jameson’s bravado is part of his appeal and DNA, Simmons doesn’t need the writers to fill him out or add more dimensions to him.
“That development is a pretty significant component for a lot of characters,” Simmons says. “I appreciate how that character hasn’t evolved. He’s changed in certain aspects, but he’s still the same jerk… and that’s what I like to do.” J.K. Simmons will next be seen in The Tomorrow War, which will be released on July 2. In the following days, you’ll see more of our conversation with the director of that film. The film Spider-Man: No Way Home will be released on December 17th.