The biggest challenge for an actor is encapsulating the essence of a role, not only through reciting the script, but by absorbing every facet of the character's being; transforming themselves into the fictional persona we see on screen.
With a blank slate, actors build their characters from the ground up. Occasionally, an actor will land a role that comes with existing foundations. In these instances, just how much should their portrayal take from the existing framework?
One such role is Commissioner Gordon, an integral character in the DC Universe. Many actors have portrayed the Gotham Police officer through the years. Most recently, Pat Hingle portrayed the character in the '90s and Gary Oldman donned the mustache for Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
Next up to the plate, Oscar-winning Whiplash actor J.K. Simmons will portray James Gordon in Zack Snyder's Justice League Part One, the character's first appearance in the contemporary DC Extended Universe.
'I'm Just Going To Try To Do My Take On It'
In an interview with Collider, Simmons explained that he won't be looking at previous portrayals for inspiration. He said:
"I’m sure there will be differences and similarities with what Gary Oldman or Pat Hingle have done before, but I’m just going to try to do my take on it and be as informed as I can about the rich history of the Batman universe, going into it."
Rather than turning to the screen, the 61-year-old confirmed he would instead consult the comics, in which Gordon first appeared way back in May 1939, the same time as Batman himself. Simmons added:
"I can’t say that I don’t have some impression of that character in my head that’s based on what I saw, but I’m not planning on going back and watching any of the other films. I’m just planning on learning as much as I can about him through the comics and getting my feet wet in the first movie, and then hopefully continuing on from there."
The Start Of A New Franchise?
Although Simmons may not be looking to his peers for motivation, he will be able to draw on past experiences, having been perfectly cast as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, appearing in all three movies between 2002 and 2007. Talking about the similarities of both roles, he added:
"My understanding, from what I’ve learned so far about Commissioner Gordon, is that he’s the older guy with the moustache who relates with our hero in a certain way. Other than that, it’s a vastly different character and much more of a stronger, impactful character in the DC universe.”
Simmons's impact could resonate further than Justice League Part One. As well as Justice League Part Two, due for release in 2019, the character could feature in Ben Affleck's solo Batman movie, which has now been officially confirmed by Warner Bros.
'Justice League Part One' will be released on November 17th, 2017.
Do you think J.K. Simmons is a good casting decision for James Gordon?