It would appear that J.K. Simmons will channel his darker side for The Woods, a new thriller that will feature the veteran actor in what could be his most sadistic role yet. Directed by Michelle Schumacher, The Woods will star Simmons in a villain role with Allen Leech and Fernanda Urrejola also starring. Randle Schumacher is producing for Rubber Tree Productions.
Written by Schumacher and Carolyn Carpenter, The Woods follows a “teenage girl suffering from anxiety due to a tragic event from her past who finds herself hunted through the woods by a sociopath on a murderous rampage.” We’ve seen Simmons in antagonist roles before, though playing a homicidal psychopath hunting down a teenager is something new for him. The roles played by Fernanda Urrejola and Allen Leech were not revealed.
Per Deadline, the actor explained why now was the time to take on such a sinister role, “I didn’t want to play any truly scary bad guys when our kids were young, partly because of how it might affect them if they saw the film and also because I didn’t want to bring that energy home with me after an intense day on the set,” J.K. Simmons said. Now, his two children are all grown up and away at college, opening the door back up for Simmons to get more brutal with his characters.
Longtime fans of the veteran actor might remember when J.K. Simmons starred on the gritty HBO prison drama Oz. His character, Vernon Schillinger, was the leader of a white supremacist group responsible for many murders and other sadistic acts carried out on the other prisoners. Simmons found greater fame with his memorable role as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, a role he’s reprising this winter in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Recently, Simmons has also been voicing the animated character Omni-Man on Amazon’s acclaimed series Invincible, another rather wicked villain. He’s certainly not always the bad guy, as seen in his role as Chris Pratt’s father in the Amazon sci-fi action movie The Tomorrow War. Simmons is also set to appear as actor William Frawley in the upcoming Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz biopic Being the Ricardos.
There are also rumors Simmons will reprise his Justice League role as James Gordon in the upcoming Batgirl series on HBO Max. In the past, Simmons has said he’d be open to revisiting that role, but nothing has yet been set in stone. Because Batgirl appears to be connected to the DCEU, it would be natural for him to return in the role as Barbara Gordon’s father. Leslie Grace, who’s playing Barbara on the show, publicly addressed the rumors by stating to Simmons, “Huge respect and please play my dad! I hope you’re my dad.”
J.K. Simmons’ casting in The Woods isn’t entirely by coincidence. He has been married to Michelle Schumacher, the movie’s director, for about 25 years. He previously starred in Schumacher’s movies I’m Not Here and 3 Geezers! along with her short film The Floor. Schumacher previously worked as an actress alongside Simmons on Oz as the character Norma Clark.
A release date has not been announced for The Woods, but it definitely sounds like a title for fans of Simmons to look out for. This news comes to us from Deadline.