Why J.K. Simmons Needs To Be In The New Ghostbusters

The new Ghostbusters tease

J.K. Simmons has become Jason Reitman’s good luck charm. The two men first started working together on Reitman’s debut directorial effort, Thank You for Smoking. And since then, Simmons has appeared – even in the tiniest of roles – in virtually every film Reitman has made. Their collaborations include everything from Up in the Air and Juno to the time he played the voice of Charlize Theron’s publisher in an uncredited role in Young Adult. Reitman tends to be at his best when Simmons is on board… which is why Simmons needs to be on board with the new Ghostbusters movie.

This isn’t totally out of left field. CinemaBlend spoke with J.K. Simmons on behalf of his latest Jason Reitman joint, The Front Runner, and noted that they have been working together steadily for years. With Ghostbusters on the horizon, we asked Simmons if he’d be ready to assume a role, any role, in the continuation, and he replied:

I’m interested in anything Jason Reitman does and ever will do. And I’m so blessed that he continues to keep me in mind.

Here’s why J.K. Simmons belongs in Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters. He’s a brilliantly funny character actor who too often gets pegged for serious dramas (because he’s incredibly capable of nailing those roles) when enough filmmakers forget how dry, razor-sharp and hilarious Simmons can be in any situation.

No, we’re not arguing that Jason Reitman casts J.K. Simmons AS a Ghostbuster. If the director really feels the need to bring this franchise back to life, then I think he needs to stick to the remaining original Ghostbusters – the OGs, if you will – and try to make a chapter that lives up to the legacy of the first two movies.

But J.K. Simmons is the perfect person to have as a foil – or even an ally – to the Ghostbusters. Someone like William Atherton in the first movie, who gets how to be condescending and vile but still, somehow, humorous. Simmons can play broadly funny. He can also play calculatedly hilarious. As this NSFW clip from Burn After Reading proves:

Also, having J.K. Simmons on board creates a bit of a comfort zone for Jason Reitman. A security blanket, if you will. I’m not sure you can call Simmons a “sure thing” for Reitman, as movies they worked on such as Men, Women and Children have missed the mark, both creatively and financially. But giving Reitman that natural safety net of having a frequent collaborator on set might be a step in the right direction for a movie that we all want to see succeed.

And that’s the thing. We all, as fans, want to see Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters do well. And in general, adding J.K. Simmons to a cast – to ANY cast – makes the movie that much better. If it makes Ghostbusters better, then we are all on board. As for Simmons, you can watch him play campaign manager Bill Dixon in The Front Runner, which will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD Tuesday, February 12.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.