J.K. Simmons has only one stipulation when it comes to talking about his role in the feature film “Patriots Day.” He wants to do the interview with Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese, the man he portrays in the film about the Boston Marathon bombings.
Simmons has played characters based on real people in the past, but he never had as much access to the person behind the role as he did with “Patriots Day.” Not only did he spend days talking to Pugliese about what happened the week after the bombing, but the scenes that take place in Pugliese’s house were filmed in the police officer’s actual residence.
“This is the kind of movie, a re-creation of actual events, that I have generally kind of stayed away from,” Simmons says. “This one was such a compelling story and once I met with (director) Pete Berg and he laid the whole thing out for me, I realized there was so much of this story that most people don’t know.”
The only way Simmons could have known more about this story before filming started would have been if he had been a part of the Watertown police force. Pugliese walked him down the actual street where the shootout occurred, and introduced him to the people in the neighborhood.
Simmons found events of the actual gun battle to be so intense, he’s wondering if moviegoers will believe everything was heightened because it’s a movie. He stresses that the events in Watertown are depicted as they happened.
It was Pugliese who ended up in a face-to-face gun battle with one of the bombers on a dark street in Watertown where the police officer worked. It was the combination of his shots and the bomber being run over by his own brother that killed the suspect.
Pugliese was surprised when he heard a movie was being made on the events and he would be played by Simmons.
“I never thought a character in a movie would be based on me. It is something you go through life not thinking about,” Pugliese says.
All of the time spent together has created a friendship between the two men. After spending the day talking about the movie, they planned to spend the evening having dinner together.
For Simmons, getting to know Pugliese was a bonus of being in “Patriots Day.”
The movie is just the latest in a massive award-winning career for Simmons. He gets a bump in job title for his next job as he will play Commissioner Gordon in “The Batman” and “Justice League.”
None of his film roles has gotten him as much attention as his role as a spokesman for Farmers Insurance.
“Those commercials are on all the time, so I am best known for them,” Simmons says.
In a film galaxy
Jimmy Smits is attending the TV Critics Association winter tour to talk about his role in the reboot of the “24” franchise on FOX. He plays a presidential candidate with a lot of secrets on “24: Legacy.”
If you have not seen “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” it might best if you move on to another story, as a spoiler is on the way. You have been warned.
Along with talking about how busy he has has been with “24: Legacy” and the streaming service series, “The Get Down,” the topic of his latest film work is discussed. Smits provides a major bridge between Episodes 1-3 of the “Star Wars” series with “Rogue One” by reprising his role as Bail Organa.
Smits loves that he got to return to the role he last played on screen in “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.” The only problem was how much he got to play the role in the new film.
“I think I was in the makeup chair longer than I was on set,” Smits says. “I was suppose to be in more scenes, but I had to cut it short because of the shooting schedule for ‘Legacy.’
“So what you see on the screen is the little I go to do and it was cut up.”
The shortened time meant Smits didn’t get to perform everything he wanted with the role, but the fact he was in the film has been received positively by fans. It makes sense since he raised Princess Leia, who is responsible for getting the plans for the Death Star, stolen in “Rogue One,” to the droids in “A New Hope.”
Smits tells me that he always gets feedback from his two children about the projects he’s doing. They were happy he was back in the “Star Wars” universe, but not nearly as excited as his work on the Netflix series, “The Get Down.” The series looks at the birth of hip hop. It is in a completely different galaxy than his “Star Wars” work.
The office: REELZ will air the miniseries, “The Kennedys - After Camelot,” starting 6 p.m April 2. Katie Holmes plays Jackie Kennedy Onassis while Matthew Perry is Ted Kennedy.
Royal treatment: Preschoolers will set off on adventures in a kingdom far away where there lives a Princess Knight. Nickelodeon’s “Nella the Princess Knight” follows an unconventional 8-year-old who possesses the royal qualities of a princess while also embodying the courage and determination of a brave knight. It debuts at 10 a.m. Feb. 6.