Even if you don’t know J.K. Simmons’ name, you undoubtedly know the evil bastards he’s played. Not only is he cigar-chomping J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker’s Daily Bugle editor-from-hell in ”Spider-Man,” Simmons also plays the vengeful white supremacist Vern Schillinger on the HBO series ”Oz.” EW.com talked to the 47-year-old father of two (also known for his ”Law & Order” psychiatrist Dr. Skoda) about the cash bonus he got for ”Spider-Man,” Schillinger’s freaky fans, and the sugary-sweet role you’ll never guess he played.
How did you manage to snag a role in ”Spider-Man”?
I’d done two movies with Sam [Raimi], ”For Love of the Game” and ”The Gift,” so I think he thought of me first off when he read the script. We were actually working on ”The Gift” when word got out he was doing ”Spider-Man,” so I made a crack about playing the bad guy. But somehow I wound up as the boorish loud mouth guy instead.
Were you surprised by ”Spider-Man”’s record-breaking box office debut?
I don’t pay all that much attention to numbers, except this time I had a clause in my contract for a bonus based on box office. This was the first time I’ve ever actually gotten one of those bonuses, and the movie crossed that mark in just five days.
How do you like having your very own action figure?
It has desk-pounding action! What’s really frightening is that, aside from the [incorrect] brown eyes, the face looks exactly like mine. They sent me the figure for approval, and four days later my agent called me and said, they didn’t tell us this when they sent it, but that’s the only one [they’ve made so far] and it’s worth $20,000. And my kid had it in pieces all over the living room floor. Luckily, the limbs were detachable, and he hadn’t chewed it beyond recognition or anything, so I sent it back.