Before he went on to wow and intimidate audiences with his powerful, critically-acclaimed performance in last year’s award season darling Whiplash, J.K. Simmons took his character acting skills to the tennis court. Well, tennis court-adjacent, in the R-rated comedy Break Point in which he stars opposite Jeremy Sisto (Clueless, Suburgatory) and David Walton (About a Boy, New Girl) as their even-tempered, supportive, animal doctor dad.
Screen Rant recently sat down with the Oscar-winner to discuss his newly acquired veterinarian skills, what other random usable tools and tricks he’s picked up in playing diverse characters throughout his career and if the film’s young co-star Joshua Rush consistently stole scenes from all his older co-stars. Oh and of course we asked Simmons whether or not we’ll see him in another Terminator movie.
What research did you have to do about veterinarians for this role?
My best friend in the world that I’ve known since junior high is a veterinarian, so when I needed technical advice I would literally just call up my buddy Paul and he would tell me where to find the bladder of an English bulldog.
Not that you needed to perform full animal surgeries here, but what’s your normal sort of prep?
There was a little animal surgery going on there in that first scene. Most of it was probably out of frame in the final cut. As with anything, you want to get those technical aspects of it right and like I said, my oldest buddy was the only source I needed in this case.
Was there any one particular fact that he gave you that you are now proud to use?
Literally, where to find a bladder on an English bulldog. I called him up and he told me how, and then I found it on our buddy Barack [the bulldog in the film] there on the operating table.
In your career has there been any other sort of random skill you’ve acquired and kept?
And kept? Nothing is springing to mind. I followed cops around playing sheriffs and police and this and that and believe it or not, I did some research at the New York Post when I was playing J Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man movies, just to get the vibe of a big city newspaper. Yeah nothing I could say that’s come in handy in real life.
Well at least at the New York Post you learn the art of the sensationalist headlines, that would be the only thing I would like to learn how to do.
Oh yeah, I think the New York Post has that under control.
Who did young Josh steal the most scenes from?
It was unilateral, he stole from everybody. Honestly when I first read the script, there are all these great characters but really, that’s the best part in the movie is this 12 year old kid, and Josh came in and really did a great job with it.
What do you like having a kid actor like that on set or kids in film?
Well I go back and forth. Depending on who the kid is and who the kid’s parents are and all that, you hear the horror stories about stage moms and dads and sometimes that’s born out of reality. In this case, he was a great combination of a kid who had been around and had been working a lot so he was this 12 year old pro, but still sort of unspoiled by the whole Hollywood thing, so far. We’ll see after this comes out.
What would you say is the metaphor of the game of tennis juxtaposed with the message of family dynamics here in this film?
Just love. Love. There’s love in tennis, and there’s love in family. Love means nothing in tennis, love means much in family.
Ha, nice! Last question, what have you heard about the Terminator sequels?
Nothing yet, we are hopeful that we’re going to make a couple more, but the trigger has not been officially pulled.
Break Point is directed by Jay Karas off a screenplay by Gene Hong and Jeremy Sisto, and stars Jeremy Sisto, David Walton, J.K. Simmons, Amy Smart, Joshua Rush Nisenson, Adam Devine, Cy Amundson, Vincent Ventresca, Chris Parnell, Jennifer Wade, Mo Collins, Jerry Minor, Kate Flannery, and Mayank Bhatter.
Jimmy Price is a reckless man-child on the last leg of his career as a doubles tennis player. When his latest partner drops him, he realizes he’s officially burned all of his bridges on the pro circuit. He decides to make one last ditch effort to revive his career, reaching outside of the tennis world and convincing his childhood partner — his estranged brother Darren, now a pathetic substitute teacher – to team up with him. The mismatched pair, with the help of a unique 11-year-old named Barry, make an unlikely run at a grand slam tournament and are forced to re-discover their game, and their brotherhood.
Break Point is now playing in a limited release