J.K. Simmons Was Offered Choice of Two 'La La Land' Roles Before Stars Signed On

"I picked the guy who hates jazz [over playing Emma's father]," said the Oscar-winning actor who starred in Damien Chazelle's 'Whiplash.'
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Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons and Ryan Gosling

Long before Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were cast in La La Land, J.K. Simmons, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for Damien Chazelle's Whiplash, was offered not one but two roles in the Globe-winning musical.

Simmons tells THR: "During the Whiplash shoot, he sent me the script and said, 'There's really not much of a part for you. I'd love for you to do one of these two little parts. Let me know which one.' I picked the guy who hates jazz [over playing Emma's father]." Though Simmons is onscreen for only a few minutes, there's plenty of footage for the DVD. "Damien let go of the reins, and Ryan and I improvised like crazy," he laughs. "There's a lot of comedy gold."

This story first appeared in the Jan. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.