If you weren’t familiar with the name J.K. Simmons, you’ll be familiar with the face. Simmons has starred as some of the most iconic characters put to the screen, delighting audiences with his performances in films such as Whiplash, Terminator: Genisys, and the prison drama Oz. Aside from his acting chops, Simmons is an actor known for bringing a certain kind of physicality to his roles. In Whiplash, there was a quietly contained energy housed within his conductor, one that threatened to unleash itself at any moment. Meanwhile, in Terminator: Genisys, the actor reportedly worked out with Arnold Schwarzenegger at bodybuilding paradise, Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach.
But of all his roles, Simmons’ latest might just be his most physical yet – even if the role he’s playing doesn’t necessarily conjure images of swole biceps and a gym-honed physique. Santa Claus might be hailed as a beloved character known for his protruding belly and love of cookies and milk, but that image is set to be reimagined in a new festive comedy, Red One. In a set of new stills released from the upcoming project, Simmons is seen looking incredibly ripped as he pumps iron in character as Saint Nick himself, all the while being spotted by The Rock.
The photos, released by The Rock, are a testament to the hard work and discipline Simmons extends to his craft. As Johnson captioned the post, “Ladies, gentlemen & children of all ages…the coolest, strongest, kindest, most bad ass, most loving & most OG Santa Claus of all time. Brought to life by Academy Award winner, J.K. Simmons who worked his ass off for months to step into this iconic role in AMAZING SHAPE for our Christmas franchise film, RED ONE. We’re having a BLAST and so will you and your families when you see our movie!!”
Red One, which is set to be released in 2023, boasts an all-star cast. Joining The Rock and Simmons is Chris Evans, Nick Kroll, Lucy Liu, and Kiernan Shipka. Directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Chris Morgan and Hiram Garcia, the plot remains largely under wraps, but has been touted as “reimagining holiday mythology,” and is expected to launch a new franchise. After years of only ever seeing Marvel’s biggest superheroes on the big screen, it’s exciting to hear of new developments, particularly those that are looking to go big and take risks when it comes to the movie theatre-going experience.
As for Simmons, the months ahead will be a busy time for the actor, who will also be working on buddy comedy action film My Only Sunshine, spy film Our Man From Jersey, and thriller You Can’t Run Forever which is helmed by his wife, Michelle Schumacher, whose brother will also serve as producer, with the couple’s daughter and son also being involved. Speaking to IndieWire about the project, he said: “As an actor there are always things that, somewhere in your psyche, you’re not sure you can pull it off. I have been in a position to be able to pick and choose for quite a while now.”
He added, “It’s just fortunately coincided with the times when our kids were born, and family life was the most important thing. Our whole family is involved. Her brother is the producer, our daughter is in the film, our son is currently working on scoring the film. Now it’s the ideal combination of work time blended with family time – it doesn’t get much better than that.”