“I remember when I first met J.K. Simmons, I just sort of told him, ‘Remember how [frightening] you were in Oz? I want to make that guy look like the teacher in Mr. Holland’s Opus.” —Whiplash director Damien Chazelle
Terence Fletcher, the intimidating music teacher in Whiplash, isn’t a sadistic member of the Aryan Brotherhood, like Oz‘s Vern Schillinger. But for Miles Teller’s high-school drum prodigy, Fletcher is practically evil incarnate, a bully whose primary methods of motivation are tossing chairs and playing cruel psychological mind games. He wants his school’s jazz ensemble to be the best in the country, and woe to the student who thinks his best is good enough. There simply is no good enough for Fletcher.
J.K. Simmons has the gift of ease, which makes Fletcher all the more terrifying. You could imagine another actor overdoing it—ranting like an actor playing a madman. A caricature. But Simmons makes Fletcher even more real because of the coolness behind the cruelty. He has these bulging biceps and a bald head, but it’s those eyes—sometimes calculating, sometimes impassive—that are the most frightening. One inscrutable look from him, and even the audience will slouch down in their seats and hope he doesn’t call on them. READ FULL STORY