‘Whiplash’: J.K. Simmons on his mysterious character’s back story

“Whiplash” actor J.K. Simmons and director Damien Chazelle explain the back story behind Simmons’ mysterious character Fletcher -- an enigmatic teacher determined to see his drummer students succeed -- and why he was portrayed the way he was.

What drives J.K. Simmons’ imperious, enigmatic music teacher in “Whiplash”?

Viewers are given scant insight into Fletcher, his personal life and what motivates him to take promising young dummer Andrew (Miles Teller) under his wing and push him to the breaking point. Ultimately, that very inscrutability makes Simmons’ character all the more fascinating, and also puts audiences in the same uneasy position as Andrew himself.

But as Simmons revealed at a recent presentation of “Whiplash” at the Envelope Screening Series, writer-director Damien Chazelle did imagine something of a back story for Fletcher, and they even shot a few scenes offering a peek at the man behind the menace.

“Damien had written this sort of montage where we see glimpses of Fletcher at home alone and some hints about back story for Fletcher,” Simmons said. “It was really evocative, really cool stuff, but at the end of the day Damien’s putting the movie together and decided — I think correctly — that it was more important for Fletcher to be this sort of enigmatic mystery man and to not even drop those few little breadcrumbs.”


Watch the clip above to hear Simmons talk about those breadcrumbs, from weightlifting to family pictures to music choices.

And check back Saturday for a final “Whiplash” clip from the event.

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