The wide-ranging world of superhero cinema is used to recasting. Over the years, we’ve seen countless actors stepping into the big roles, with even the continuity-focused MCU not averse to doing it if absolutely necessary. But there’s one role that appears locked in: J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson.
Beginning with 2002’s Spider-Man he knocked it out of the park over and over again in a series of hilarious scenes. So, when it came time to pick the MCU’s Jameson, why bother looking elsewhere when Simmons is right there? He first popped up in Spider-Man: Far From Home, will reprise the role in No Way Home, and also may pop up in Morbius.
Now Simmons has revealed in an interview with The Ringer how he learned he had the part – and it wasn’t his agent calling him up with congratulations. He was at an advertising agency in New York for a voice-over audition when:
“I’m walking following the person through the cubicles and this desk chair comes flying out in front of me, backwards, with some kid who was probably 28 and he goes, ‘Oh my God J.K., congratulations!’ and I go, ‘Thank you. For what?’ and he goes, ‘Are you kidding me? Spider-Man! J. Jonah Jameson, that’s so cool!’ and I was like, ‘I did not know that… I found out I got the part because of some kid who was so connected to the internet fan sites that they had that information on a Spider-Man website before my agent called me to tell me I got the job,” said Simmons. “He called me like 3 hours later and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I know.’”
Presumably, this story takes place in 2000 or 2001, meaning the news is likely via the now-defunct SpiderManHype.com which cites this story on venerable web 1.0 gossip site Ain’t It Cool News. This describes Simmons as:
“One of Raimi’s new…. ‘fellas’…. that staple of actors that he’s decided to return to and likes working with. Simmons is also…. THE VOICE OF THE YELLOW M&M!!!! which makes him pretty cool…”
Judging by the comments, fans at the time were hoping for Full Metal Jacket‘s R. Lee Ermey to get the part, but I doubt they were disappointed with what they got. The character would go on to make Simmons’ career, with TV roles eventually leading to his barnstorming performance in Whiplash, for which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Right now we don’t know how big his No Way Home role will be, though if Tobey Maguire really is sliding back into a Spidey suit, it’d be a shame for them not to cross paths. We’ll find out soon enough, as Spider-Man swings back into action on December 17.