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J.K. Simmons – Winners’ Press Conference interview, Supporting Actor, EE British Academy Film Awards in 2015

8 February 2015

Winners’ Press Conference interview with J.K. Simmons for Supporting Actor 

Winners press conference interview with J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) in Best Supporting Actor category


Q.  This is your tempo, I am guessing?


A.  It is a very good tempo, yes. It is an acceptable tempo.


Q.  How does it feel to win a BAFTA?  Is it still sinking in?


A.  Yes, it is. It is brilliant to be ‑‑ to be thought of on this side of the pond as well, yes. It is wonderful.


Q.  And this is a role that you originated back in the short film that you did with Damien. Even back then, did you see the possibilities in this role? Were you egging him on to write a feature?


A.  No, the feature was written first, actually. The short was made as a proof of concept, because oddly, nobody in Hollywood wanted to throw millions of dollars at a guy who had no track record and a (inaudible) about a jazz drummer.


Q.  Seems strange now.


A.  So yes, he distilled the short film from the feature script and it actually came in that order and, you know, obviously he's a force to be reckoned with.


Q.  Did it change in a way your perception of that character from the short to the feature film?


A.  No, not really.  I mean, it evolved, I think, a little bit. It solidified. But I had read, you know, the full script before we shot the short, so it was a character that was so clear on the page that it was just a question of doing my best to lift it off.


Q.  And I will take some questions from the floor.  Yes, please.


NEW SPEAKER: Congratulations on the award.  You've got a lot of attention from a lot of awards already. Do you feel Miles deserved a bit more attention as well?


A.  Absolutely, and I was so glad to see Miles on the list of nominees here tonight, and certainly he's not, in my view, getting his due in this award season.  But I think we can chalk that up to youth and maybe the perception that he hasn't paid his dues yet.  But he is a brilliant young actor.


NEW SPEAKER:  After the success of this film, are you going to see a different kind of role being offered to you in scripts?  Are they slightly more intimidating?


A.  No.  I wouldn't say that.  There are more offers coming my way and more interesting offers and more significant roles, just bigger parts.  So that's been a big plus of this experience.  I certainly am not looking to try to repeat Fletcher at all, so I am looking for things that are different.


NEW SPEAKER:  As you say, this is Damien's first major film and he was a jazz drummer himself before.  So did that change (inaudible) from someone who had not been involved in the film industry (inaudible) experience?


A.  I suspected that it might, but he's such a complete film maker, despite his youth and lack of real hands‑on experience, that was I felt one of the great parts of doing the short film, that I very quickly felt that I was in really good hands.  And, you know, having worked with masterful directors like Jason Reitman and Sam Reimi and the Coen brothers, I would put Damien without hesitation in that category.


NEW SPEAKER: You mentioned Hollywood there not wanting to put money into it.  What does that stay about Hollywood in general, about what they are willing to do, and what should they be doing?


A.  Well, I think anything that is at all untraditional is a tough pitch in Hollywood, you know, it is a business and there's money at stake. But I think the fact that so many films that are thinking outside the box are getting a lot of awards attention this year will hopefully help to sort of broaden the horizons of the kinds of movies that can get made. 


I have heard the quote several times recently: making a movie is really pretty easy compared to getting a movie made.  And hopefully this will open the doors for other interesting films.


NEW SPEAKER:  J.K., congratulations on the wonderful success tonight.  You have mentioned new offers coming in and of course you are going to be Skull Island, and I am curious, do you personally have much of a childhood fantasy to be in such a massive legacy?


A.  Honestly it never would have occurred to me, you know, directly.  But you know, Spiderman wouldn't have occurred to me either.  So ‑‑ and I will say again, you know, in all candor, when the idea was first presented to me that there's a new version of King Kong being made, my response was: why, you know, would anyone do that?  But having met with Jordan Vogt‑Roberts, our director, and knowing that Tom Hiddleston was already attached, my meeting with Jordan just absolutely convinced me that this was going to be a really extraordinary experience and a wonderful film.


NEW SPEAKER:  Obviously you are nominated in the same category for the Oscars.  Does this, winning this award, give you hope now or are you trying not to think too much about this now?


A.  I honestly don't think in those terms.  It sounds disingenuous, but yes, I am just really pleased to be here and to have received this and to be holding this mask with one eye blinking.  And if there are more to come, then that will be delightful as well.


Q.  And time for one last question.  Yes, please, madam?


NEW SPEAKER:  Hi, it is Natalie from the BBC.  You've obviously worked in lots of Hollywood studio movies as well as independent films.  Do you know of any particular challenges facing the industry right now?


A.  There are always gigantic challenges facing the industry, Hollywood and everywhere else.  I think Hollywood has spread certainly across the States and really across the globe, so, you know, yes, there are ever present challenges.  And really, as I said, you know, the biggest one, I think, from a Hollywood business perspective is just for really interesting, intelligent, compelling movies to have a chance to even get made.


Q.  Fantastic.  Thanks very much. Congratulations once again, J.K. Simmons.


A.  Thank you.