Not long after J.K. Simmons landed the role of Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League, the Internet worked itself into a frenzy over photos of the Oscar-winning actor’s workout routine. With his tangled beard and massive arms, Simmons looked like some kind of wilderness survival guru, and fans began speculating that Justice League might feature a more action-oriented Gordon than we’ve seen in previous incarnations.
While chatting with Business Insider to promote the release of Kung Fu Panda 3, Simmons was quick to note that his physical conditioning has nothing to do with his role as the iconic character from the Batman mythology:
“This is all coincidental. After the second and final time that I got hugely fat in my life, and when I lost that weight six or seven years ago, I pretty much decided that I was going to stay in decent shape for the rest of my life.”
The photos were actually taken in April, before Simmons had inked his deal with Warner Bros., and his impressive physique is a product of years of training. He first began hitting the gym in 1997, after portraying white supremacist Vern in the first season of HBO’s Oz:
“I was not in good shape at all. I was overweight and soft, and here I am playing the head of the Aryan Brotherhood in this maximum-security prison in the first-ever HBO original drama. I was watching the first season when it came out and I just thought, ‘Wow, I don’t believe this guy at all. I have to get my ass to the gym and be a believable hard-ass.’”
Simmons was able to slim down for awhile, but when his weight rose to more than 250 pounds in 2009, he sought professional help in the form of personal trainer Dana Perry, who Simmons credits with the sleek, toned look he sported in Whiplash. But during production on Terminator Genisys, Simmons was introduced to Aaron Williamson, who had been hired to train Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney for the film, and he started changing up his fitness regimen:
“I’ve gone back and forth with fine-tuning the kind of conditioning I’m doing. Sometimes trying to shed weight and getting leaner and sometimes trying to pack on a little more muscle… Those [pictures] were shot at the end of April. I’m huge now!”
Simmons also confirms that fans won’t be in for any surprises when they get their first look at Commissioner Gordon – the unruly facial hair has been replaced by a well-groomed mustache, and the bulging biceps will be hidden beneath a trench coat. “I’m not going to mess with something that iconic,” he said.
Justice League is currently in production, and is scheduled to hit theaters on November 17, 2017.
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