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After years of putting in consistently impressive character actor work, J.K. Simmons is finally in the midst of his moment. His insanely intense performance as a drill instructor-like jazz band conductor at a prestigious music academy in Whiplash has earned him a ton of Oscar buzz and the topic of thousands of conversations around Hollywood. When that happens to an actor, job offers start pouring in - and that's exactly what has led to this awesome casting announcement.
Deadline's sources have informed them that J.K. Simmons is the latest actor to joining the cast of Kong: Skull Island - the upcoming Legendary Pictures blockbuster that will be helmed by Kings of Summer director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. At this time there aren't any solid details about the actor's role in the film, or even what the plot will be about, but Simmons is joining a cast that already includes another highly buzzed about star: Tom Hiddleston. As you may be able to tell from the newly announced title, the project is set around the homeland of King Kong - though it's not entirely clear when the story will be set or who it will be focusing on.
Lots of people are talking about J.K. Simmons' work now, but he has truly been doing great work both on the big screen and the small going back to the mid-90s when he first started out. Many audience members first got to know him as Vern Schillinger on HBO's brutal prison series Oz, but his career has also found him working with filmmakers like the Coen brothers and Jason Reitman. Of course, we will also never forget his first real blockbuster role, as he truly became the perfect J. Jonah Jameson when he starred in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies.
As great as Simmons has been in the past, however, his work in Damien Chazelle's Whiplash is arguably the finest we've seen from him. The man is absolutely terrifying as he screams at his musicians, throws chairs around the room, and makes his students play until their hands bleed. It's a performance that inspires positive Full Metal Jacket comparisons, and the intensity of it all is only deepened by interesting character depth and philosophy. There's a very good reason why he's considered a frontrunner for his year's Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.
The nice thing about Simmons' work as a character actor is that it means we never go too long without seeing him pop up in something. Next summer he will be appearing alongside the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke in Terminator: Genisys, playing an alcoholic private detective. Kong: Skull Island isn't set to be released by Legendary and Universal Pictures until March 10, 2017, but the fact that they are starting to pick up a cast now suggests that they may be aiming to start filming some time in 2015 - giving them potentially more than a full year for post-production work. We're surely going to be hearing a lot more about this project in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.