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J.K. Simmons wins supporting actor Oscar for 'Whiplash'; family, not agents, rule speech

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LOS ANGELES — J.K. Simmons offered heartfelt thanks in accepting the best supporting actor Oscar for "Whiplash," and there wasn't an agent or manager on his list.

Instead, Simmons expressed gratitude Sunday to his wife, children and parents, and even encouraged the audience to give their own parents a shout — by phone, he said, not via social media.

It was very un-Hollywood speech from the journeyman character actor who's cut his own path, always gaining acclaim but, before Oscar night, rarely in the spotlight.

Ceremony host Neil Patrick Harris slyly noted that the new Oscar winner is also a commercial star, for Farmers Insurance: Harris hummed the company's theme music.

"I am grateful for your love, your kindness, your wisdom, your sacrifice, your patience," Simmons said to his wife, Michelle Schumacher. "Which brings me to the above-average children. Joe and Olivia, you are extraordinary human beings. Smart, funny, kind individuals. And that is because you are a reflection of your mother."

Then Simmons suggested that people should "call your mom. Call your dad. If you're lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet."

PHOTO: J.K. Simmons accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for “Whiplash” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
J.K. Simmons accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for “Whiplash” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

He was honored for playing a cruel jazz band instructor who berates and humiliates his students, including Miles Teller, who co-stars as an aspiring jazz drummer in Damien Chazelle's film.

It was the first Oscar nomination for Simmons, 60. He also won the Golden Globe in January.

Simmons, who said backstage that he was taken aback by the enthusiastic applause he received from the Oscar audience, has seen his life changed by "Whiplash."

"It's definitely more tiring than the lean times. In the lean times, you get plenty of sleep and you're not flying around everywhere," he said, recalling fondly performing at regional theaters "for not much money" early in his career.

Simmons was asked what he would say to struggling actors who may be tempted to quit. He recalled feeling that way, he said, but resisted it because he was committed to acting and the arts.

"If there's nothing else that would bring you satisfaction, there's your answer," he said.


AP Writer Jocelyn Noveck in New York contributed to this report.

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