Oscar Actors: Simmons, J.K. Wins Supporting Actor for Whiplash

The first award given at the 87th Oscar show is Best Supporting Actor.

J.K. Simmons has won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as an abusive orchestra conductor in “Whiplash,” fulfilling the widespread expectation that the veteran actor was a lock to take the trophy.

This is Simmons’ first Oscar nomination.

Simmons topped a formidable field, winning over Robert Duvall for “The Judge,” Ethan Hawke for “Boyhood,” Edward Norton for “Birdman” and Mark Ruffalo for “Foxcatcher.”

The 60-year-old Simmons has already won the Golden Globes, SAG, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA and Spirit awards.

“Whiplash,” shot in 19 days, centers on Simmons’ pushing Miles Teller’s drummer character to the breaking point at a fictional New York City music academy. Simmons, a 60-year-old character actor, has been the frontrunner all the way back to the world premiere of “Whiplash” at Sundance more than a year ago.

Until that point, Simmons had been best known for his TV work in “Law and Order” and “Oz” along with portraying J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.

“I have been especially blessed,” Simmons said Saturday in a low-key acceptance at the Spirits.

The character actor used his moment on the stage to thank his wife and children, and closed his speech with a plea to viewers to value their parents: “Tell them you love them and thank them and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.”

Backstage, Simmons told the press:

“Maybe more people saw me tonight than see me in the commercials, actually, for the first time. This is the cherry on top of this extraordinary experience that Whiplash has been for me,” said Simmons. When asked what advice he’d give aspiring actors he said: “I read a very romantic book when I was young, when I was in college, Rilke‘s Letters to a Young Poet. I’ve always felt that if you’re in any artistic or creative endeavor and you feel there’s something else you could do and be happy, you should do something else…If you can look deeply in yourself and honestly there is nothing else that can bring you happiness, then there you go.”

The actor was also asked to compare his career now at such a high point compared to “leaner times.” “It’s definitely more tiring than the lean times,” he joked. “In the lean times you get plenty of sleep and you’re not flying around. For me, the lean times were a wonderful time of my life. I was struggling for many years. I didn’t have a wife and kids to support so I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities. I look back on those time with great fondness.”