FILM – J.K Simmons: Picking up the page is the main difference between making a blockbuster and an independent film

In 2012 he won an Academy Award for ‘Best Male Actor in a Supporting role’ for his great performance in Whiplash and he was nominated for more than 50 awards from which he won 39 of them. Of course we are talking about J.K. Simmons and during the red carpet of his new movie I’m Not Here, in which he plays the role of Steve, an elderly man who struggles with the tragic memories of his past, we’re able to have an interview with him to talk about how it’s like to work with your wife (Michelle Schumacher, director of I’m Not Here), about Justice League and about his next projects.

Hi Mr Simmons, welcome to Raindance Film Festival. Excited to be here?

Yeah, very much so.

So this is the first time the movie will be screened in front of a public. How do you feel about that? Nervous or excited?

Well, I think it’s very nerve-wracking for my wife (Michelle Schumacher, director of I’m Not Here), who’s the creator behind the movie. She’s one of the writers, she’s the director, she’s done the editing, looked for the props, searched for the craft services and all of that with a low budget. So she did everything and this is really her baby. There are some nerves tonight especially because it’s the first time the movie will be shown to a real audience. This is about as indie as it gets. Really true indie. We haven’t had test screenings or audience feedback or anything. It’s like opening night at the theatre. We have no idea what people think but we’re looking forward very much to hear the audience response.

Obviously, when you read the script, you thought ‘well let’s do this’ so it must be very good.

Yeah, I was in for the ride as soon as Michelle and Tony (Tony Cummings, one of the writers of I’m Not Here) were going to write and develop the idea together. Although I kind of stayed away, especially when Michelle was editing the movie. I don’t like to see it too often and I certainly couldn’t be director, producer and be writer altogether because I do have a short attention span. Don’t show me anything until it’s basically done so I can just experience it and respond to it and see what it does to me.

So let’s say experience it like the audience itself.

Yeah, indeed.

How is it to work with your wife? Is it different than working with a director who’s not family related?

Well, there’s comfort level there between us and there’s no director I feel more comfortable with than her. Working alongside her was a real comfort. Usually, I’m able to see my wife or be working so it was great to be able to do both at the same time.

Later on this year, we’re also going to see you in Justice League, which is a blockbuster. What is the big difference between making an independent movie and a blockbuster like that?

Well, pace is the main difference. On a big temple movie like Justice League, you shooting maybe a page day and when you’re in ‘indie land’, you’re shooting nine or ten pages a day. You really have to knock it out because it really comes down to dollars and cents or pounds and pence. I enjoy both and it’s very difference experience acting in both kinds of movies. Adapting to the pace. I recently did a thing in the United States where I shot 28 pages in one day which was absurd. Picking up the page is the main difference between making a blockbuster and an independent film.

Wasn’t it very hard to shoot 28 pages in one day?

Well the scene that we shot then was very silly. It was just three guys sitting in a car, surrounded by four cameras. It felt like doing a one-act play in a day.

Do you have, apart from Justice League, any more upcoming projects?

Yeah, there a few. I have a little part in The Snowman and there’s a funny movie that I just changed its title to Father Figures and it will comes out in the United States in December. I still don’t know when it comes out here. I’m also doing an independent movie called The Bachelors. It’s a busy fall that’s coming up for me.

Ok, just one last question: Do you have any advice for people to make it in the business just like you?

Well, I have two pieces of advice. First of all, stay out of show business. That would be the first piece of advice. Secondly, if you’re not going to listen to the first piece of advice and if you want to be an actor, then my best piece of advice is to listen to other people who have made it and to learn from them.

Thank you so much for the interview and good luck with everything that’s coming up for you!

Liselotte Vanophem, Just Celebrity Magazine TV and Film Reporter

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