J.K. Simmons thought he'd hung up his Gotham City police badge for good. The Oscar winner was cast as Commissioner James Gordon in 2017's Justice League, with plans for Simmons to reprise the role in future DC films. But upon the dissolution of the Snyderverse, director Matt Reeves cast Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon in The Batman, seemingly relieving Simmons of his own Dark Knight duties.
"[It] really came as a complete surprise that they wanted me to be that guy again," he tells A.frame. Still, Simmons signed on for Batgirl, in which he reprises his role as Commissioner Gordon opposite the eponymous superhero, played by In the Heights breakout Leslie Grace.
"She brings so much to it," he says of Grace. "I completely agree about In the Heights. She was really charming and compelling and charismatic in that—and she brings all of that to Batgirl in addition to pretty kickass stunt skills."
As in the comic books, Simmons' James Gordon is the father of Grace's Barbara Gordon, who comes to don her own cape and cowl. Having previously played Commissioner Gordon only as the put-upon helper to a team of superheroes, playing him as the dad of one masked vigilante opened the role up in a new way for Simmons.
"The tiny role that Commissioner Gordon played in Justice League was very businesslike and very, 'Let's see if we can stave off the end of the world!'" he explains. "What appealed to me about this movie was from Jim Gordon's point of voice, it's really more a story about him as a guy and as a father and not just about the guy who's turning on the Bat Signal and trying to keep the citizens of Gotham safe—although that's obviously also a part of the story. But it was a chance to delve into a different aspect of the character."
Batgirl, which is set to premiere on HBO Max later this year, hails from directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life and the upcoming Ms. Marvel) with a script by Birds of Prey writer Christina Hodson. Michael Keaton, who reprises his role as Batman in the forthcoming The Flash movie, will play the Caped Crusader here, too, with Brendan Fraser cast as the villainous Firefly.