Though J.K. Simmons won the Oscar for his critically acclaimed role in Whiplash on Sunday, the actor admits that there were plenty of times he was ready to give up on acting.
“I almost got back on the bus a handful of times,” he said backstage after his big win. “If I had any really reasonable options in terms of employment, I probably would have, but unfortunately I didn’t—or fortunately, I guess, at the same time. I’ve always felt that if you are in any kind of an artistic creative endeavor and you feel that there’s something else you can do for a living and be happy, I think you should do something else because you’re much more likely to find comfort and happiness. If you can look deeply within yourself and honestly answer that there is nothing else that can bring you satisfaction, then there’s your answer.”
Still, after the whirlwind few months of accolades, Simmons said he looks back affectionately on the decades of being a struggling actor. “In the lean times, you get plenty of sleep and you’re not flying around everywhere,” he said. “For me, the lean times were a wonderful and beautiful time of my life. I was struggling for many years doing regional theater and doing odd jobs in between, but I didn’t have a wife and kids to support, so I had no responsibilities other than feed myself, try to be a decent human being and try to get better at what I was wanting to do. I look back on those times with great fondness.”
Fortunately, Simmons said, his new golden statue means “more opportunities” for the future.