Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who Could Play J. Jonah Jameson

Marc Webb recently said that he would love J. Jonah Jameson to be in Amazing Spider-Man 3, but has no definite plans for the character.  This is astonishing news to me, because I consider JJJ to be a vital part of the Spidey mythos.  He is probably the most important supporting character, next to Aunt May (who the new movies are very much misusing).  JJJ's relationship with Peter/Spidey is fascinating.  Jameson pays Peter to take pictures of Spider-Man so Jameson can turn the public against him.  They are both simultaneously harming and helping each other in a brilliantly reliable piece of plotting.  I don't see how Sony can plan a Spider-Man movie a year without having set plans for this character.  He easily could be the franchise's Nick Fury, tying each movie together.

Webb mentioned that it would be difficult to top J.K. Simmons, which is a sentiment that is surprisingly echoed across the internet.  Raimi's trilogy seems to have fallen out of favor, but everyone loves Simmons' Jameson.  Which is easy to understand why.  Simmons is a brilliant character actor who fit perfectly in Raimi's caricatured universe.

Simmons improves every project he is involved in (he easily had the best scene in Up in the Air).  But I don't see his great portrayal should make the character off limits for others.  Jameson has been around since 1963 and has been interpreted in many different ways.  The original Stan Lee/Steve Dikto JJJ had a giddiness to him.  Ed Asner (my personal favorite version of JJJ) always delivered his lines for Spider-Man: The Animated Series slowly with an air of disgust.  This is a great character that a lot of awesome character actors could do great things with.

That said I don't think that a fun character like J. Jonah Jameson would fit in the dark, edgy Amazing Spider-Man films (unless he was a reporter who worked with Richard Parker to expose Oscorp, because everything needs to relate to Peter's parents for some reason).  But this was a still a fun list to make.

20. Rob Huebel
There are a lot of great asshole comedians who could really play up this character.  Huebel may be a bit young, but he is a great sketch comic who could really have a lot of fun making Peter's life difficult.

19. John Slattery
One of the few actors I have seen listed online as a potential actor for the part.  Slattery has the right look (sans mustache), has enough eloquence and intimidation to sell the professional, controlling newspaperman.

18. Bob Odenkirk
Odenkirk has one of the best comedic minds and he has been getting a lot of great work in recent years.  He is becoming a staple of character roles in addition to comedy.  He could go to some really interesting places with the role.

17. Craig Ferguson
Craig's TV persona is surprisingly similar to Jameson.  He is smug, giddy, excitable and can go off on incredible rants.  Ferguson doesn't get much acting work, but he is an incredible talent that could be a really fun bit performer.

16. Jeff Goldblum
Smarmy as all get up and an extremely dependable character actor.  Not necessarily an intimidating force, but he can sure portray the jerk side of Jameson.  I can really see Goldblum reveling in making things difficult for Peter.

15. Bruce Campbell
He's already been in three Spider-Man movies.  I really feel that if Raimi hadn't found J.K. Simmons that he would have been a great Jameson.  Casting him would be a bit gimmicky, but Campbell is a solid enough character actor that he could bring his own attitude to the part.

14. Ralph Garman
While looking at potential actors I was definitely looking at angry people.  Fans of the podcast Hollywood Babble-On know that nobody is angrier than Garman.  He regularly goes into yelling spats that the audience always enjoys.  Garman is a solid personality who has done his fair share of bit characters.  He is extremely talented, but has not crossed over into much success.  He also extremely open about his geekdom and his head is the same shape as J. Jonah Jameson.

13. Gary Cole
I am kind of surprised that we haven't seen Gary Cole pop up in a superhero movie.  He is an actor with a pretty impressive range as he regularly transitions from goofy comedies to scary villains.  Both of those skill sets would greatly benefit this role.  He is hammy enough but can stay grounded too.  Out of all of the people on this list I think that he would fit in Webb's movies the easiest.

12. Kurtwood Smith
Forever tied to his memorable role as Red from That '70s Show, Smith has great comedy chops and makes a great adversary.

11. Richard Jenkins
One of the few character actors who is comparable to Simmons.  Jenkins has proven that he can play any role of any size.  He is the most dependable person working in Hollywood and would seem like a natural fit.

10. Eugene Levy
Definitely resembles Jameson the strongest, all he is missing is a mustache and a frown.  Levy is a tried and true comedic performer.  He commits to every role, no matter what the quality of the movie is.  He is guarantee to elevate the material and would be a great choice for a more comic relief angle.

9. Johnny Knoxville
I don't understand why he was cast as the voice of Leonardo, because he seems like such a natural Raphael.  As much as I liked Chris Diamantopoulos' Moe Howard, I was excited to see the Jack-Ass star attached to The Three Stooges.  Jameson definitely seems to share a number of similarities with the stooge.  I think that Knoxville harsher sensibilities would work well.

8. Paul F. Tompkins
I am convinced that everything that Paul F. Tompkins touches turns to gold.  He has such a unique comedic mind, individual style and weird skill set.  I am really surprised that he does not receive more acting work.  Although most of his characters are impressions, he is the best at caricatures.  He is so natural as cartoony personalities.  He even dresses like Jameson.

7. Philip Baker Hall
There are a number of older actors that I considered for the part (I probably should have given spots for Dabney Coleman or James Cromwell).  But the one I keep returning to is the veteran Hall.  Hall has given so many brilliant performances that it is easy to see him fit in to this role.  Detective Bookman seems to share many similarities with the publisher.  Hall has the best timing in the business and would certainly make an impact in this part.

6. Stephen Tobolowsky
Seriously, how has Tobolowsky never been considered for this part?  Seems right in his wheelhouse.

5. Craig T. Nelson
Nobody plays angry better than Craig T. Nelson.  Him screaming hate for a man in a costume seems like such a natural fit for his acting style.  He can balance intimidation along with genuine sincerity (which Jameson does have underneath all his hard edge).  There would also be that extra angle of Mr. Incredible trying to destroy a superhero.

4. Ian Roberts
The founding UCB member has never found much mainstream success.  He has had several fun bit roles and is a stand-out in an improv ensemble.  Roberts can play this type of character really well.  He also has such an incredible commitment to characters with weird goals.  His comedy background really makes him desirable for a role like this.  He understands how to play off of others and where exactly to find the best joke.  He helped write a whole book on the art of improv (which is great), that experience would really help make this character stand-out.

3. Danny Trejo
Danny Trejo has certainly perfected a type, but I think it would be a lot of fun for him to adjust his tough guy character to this role.  Sure Jameson isn't a thug or a murderer, but he is intimidating and extremely cartoonish.  Trejo is a very over the top actor with an extremely expressive face.  I would love to hear Trejo yelling about how much he hates Spider-Man.

2. Ron Perlman
His huge amounts of geek cred will definitely make fans accept him in the role.  Perlman is one of the few badasses who is very good at comedic timing.  He would be able to drum up all sorts of hate for Spidey and deliver some memorable punchlines.  He can definitely play the hardened side of Jameson, but would still believably be able to throw some joy.

1. Christopher McDonald
What ever happened to Christopher McDonald?  He was a staple of 1990s films with memorable roles in Cheers, Thelma and Louise, Quiz Show, Leave it to BeaverFlubber, Requiem for a Dream, Spy Kids 2 and of course his scene stealing role as Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore.  Some of those movies are better than others (Quiz Show being the one you need to see right now) and his role isn't the largest in all of them but you remember him in each of film.  He has also done great voice work in Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond and The Iron Giant.  He is a classy actor that can get away with playing huge jerks.  He could really make a Jameson that could stand on its own as equal to J.K. Simmons.  He is also a great actor that could benefit the most from this kind of exposure.

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