J.K. Simmons, <EM>The Closer</EM> J.K. Simmons, The Closer
J.K. Simmons, aka The Closer's hard-nosed Pope, discusses his character's love life, his

Oz tattoos and his Spider-Man toupee. (Season 3 of The Closer premieres tonight at 9 pm/ET.)

TV Guide: Your character on The Closer, assistant police chief Will Pope, has a romantic history with Brenda Johnson (played by Kyra Sedgwick). Do you think they'll ever get back together?
J.K. Simmons:
You don't want to say never, but it looks like so far this year, Brenda and Fritz [Jon Tenney] seem headed toward something resembling domestic bliss.

TV Guide: Some fans want Brenda and Pope together, don't they?
I certainly hope they do, but I would assume that's mostly the bald men and the occasional random woman.

TV Guide: Later in the season, Pope gets a new girlfriend, and Kyra Sedgwick told TV Guide that that makes Brenda jealous. What's up with that?
There's been no extracurricular romantic stuff for Pope yet, but I would be shocked if Brenda wasn't jealous, despite the fact that she has no intention of being involved with him again.

TV Guide: Is Pope ready to treat Brenda with strict professionalism?
He's absolutely capable of that. But we're shooting an episode now where his concern for Brenda will affect his behavior and the way he reacts.

TV Guide: Will she be in danger?
Let's say that Brenda will be involved in more harrowing situations than she usually is.

TV Guide: What drives Pope to work so hard?
He's a political animal, and I don't think he sees assistant chief as the end of his career. A run for elected office is a possibility. But he's a single father now, and that tempers the extent to which he can be a workaholic.

TV Guide: Does he have a skeleton in his closet that could ruin his political career?
I'm guessing that Brenda is not Pope's only inappropriate dalliance with a partner from work. He's definitely a bit of a hound dog. I'm sure that's gotten him into hot water in the past, and if I have anything to say about it, it'll get him in trouble again.

TV Guide: Didn't your TV career get a jump-start when you played a nasty perp on Homicide: Life on the Street?
That was the start of my TV career. I played this neo-Nazi bastard, which is why when he was casting Oz, [Homicide executive producer] Tom Fontana thought of me. At the time, I was a theater guy pushing 40.

TV Guide: Wasn't that around the same time you finally married after years of fun-loving bachelorhood?
I got married when I was 41. I did most of my fun-loving bachelor stuff around the country in various regional theaters. I met my wife, Michelle Schumacher, on a Peter Pan tour. She later had a recurring part on Oz as the love interest of [another con]. We actually built one of her [two] pregnancies into a story line.

TV Guide: Was it tough for Michelle to live with Oz sociopath Vern Schillinger?
I would come home with my swastika tattoos because keeping them on saved 20 minutes in makeup the next morning. I had a hard time pulling my head out of Oz, and she's said there were times when I wasn't the most fun guy to sleep with.

TV Guide: What's the deal with the wig you wear as J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man movies?
The more I read the comic books, I thought, "You gotta have the wig, and you gotta have the mustache." And this guy's always baring his big square white teeth, so I got prosthetic teeth, too.

TV Guide: In real life, did you ever consider wearing a piece?
I started losing my hair when I was 22, and I was once counseled not to be seen without hair if I wanted to be a leading man. So I had a piece made, and I wore it for a few auditions, but I could never bring myself to wear it in real life. I was never Brad Pitt movie-star handsome. I've always been a character actor waiting to happen.

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