LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – J.K. Simmons won the best supporting actor Oscar on Sunday for playing a brutally demanding jazz teacher who pushes a drummer to the edge in Whiplash.
It was the first Academy Award for the 60-year-old actor, who had never been nominated before for an Oscar. He had been a favorite to win for the film, after sweeping the supporting actor category in all the major awards shows before Sunday.
Simmons thanked his wife and his children and then made a family-centered plea to the audience and those watching at home. “If I may, call your mom everybody, call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them,”
Simmons said. In his Oscar winning role, the actor portrayed a sharp-tongued teacher named Fletcher at an elite music school who does whatever it takes to make a promising drummer, played by Miles Teller, fulfill his potential. Fletcher goes as far as slapping the drummer in the face and throwing a chair at his head, yet he commands the respect of his students as he recounts jazz lore in a low-pitched voice.
Simmons, the son of a university professor of music, has previously said that he believes his obtaining the role was an instance of “kismet,” or fate.
Simmons is known for playing another wise-cracking authoritarian in newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man franchise, a role he has reprised as a voice actor in a number of animated television shows.
He also has played a neo-Nazi in HBO’s prison drama Oz and a psychiatrist in police procedural show Law & Order, and has been the face of Farmers Insurance in a number of commercials.