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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Celebrity Focus: Kids brought J.K. Simmons from theater to film

J.K. Simmons arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “War Dogs” at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP)
By Sandy Cohen Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Fans of J.K. Simmons’ work in television and film may have the actor’s two children to thank.

A veteran of New York theater, Simmons moved into TV and movie work after his two children were born.

During a recent interview to promote his new film, “The Accountant,” Simmons recalled turning down an interesting play with a compelling co-star soon after he became a father.

“There was no reason not to do (the play) except for the fact that I had a little baby and a 3-year-old who wanted their daddy and wanted to get tucked in, and I didn’t want to not be there six nights a week,” Simmons said. “So that was when we decided to move to LA.”

Since then, Simmons has created such memorable characters as Vern Schillinger on HBO’s “Oz,” loving dad Mac MacGuff in the film “Juno” and exacting jazz teacher Fletcher in “Whiplash,” for which Simmons won the supporting actor Oscar last year.

Now that his kids are teenagers who will soon be off to college, Simmons said he and his wife (actress Michelle Schumacher) are considering a return to the East Coast.

“We’re already starting to think maybe three years from now, we do get back to New York,” he said, “and if something interesting comes along, to get back up onstage. It might happen.”

Fatherhood is a theme of “The Accountant,” which co-stars Ben Affleck and opens in theaters Friday. Asked about his favorite part about being a dad, Simmons said he loved reading to his children, now 15 and 17.

“I think of reading, reading books to them from before they could read,” he said. “And my son humored me for a long time. My daughter humored me for even longer. She was 13 and still letting me read to her before bedtime. And that to me was one of the greatest joys of dad-kid bonding.

“It continues to evolve. We’re looking at being empty-nesters in a few years and that’s heartbreaking. But it’s part of it. It’s not like you ever stop being the mom or the dad.”