Actor J.K. Simmons' long and varied resume ranges from his Academy Award-winning portrayal of a hyper-intense music instructor in "Whiplash" to Farmers Insurance spokesman to "Law & Order" to voicing the yellow M&M in commercials.
On Sunday, he'll take over a role previously filled by the likes of Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Will Ferrell and Bob Hope: king of Bacchus.
Simmons will preside over the krewe's 50th anniversary parade from atop the same throne that has served all prior monarchs save Drew Brees (who stood in a customized chariot).
Prior to his scheduled arrival in New Orleans on Friday, Simmons spoke by phone from Los Angeles about the ramifications of his reign.
I'm currently staring at your face on the back of a doubloon.
Simmons: Yeah, there I am in all my glory. I'm not sure about the resemblance to the other side of the doubloon (which features the Bacchus logo). But we can't all do the John C. Reilly thing (Reilly grew a Bacchus-like beard for his 2015 reign).
You've already seen your doubloon, then?
Simmons: (Bacchus captain) Clark Brennan and George Schiaffino (who oversees the krewe's merchandise and throws) came out to L.A. for a little in-person visit last week. They brought a bag of doubloons and T-shirts and all kinds of fun stuff.
Have you seen your signature cup yet?
Simmons: I believe we call it a chalice, don't we?
You've been to New Orleans multiple times, but this will be your first Mardi Gras. With no prior experience, what do you think it will be like?
Simmons: Well, rainy. At lunch with Clark and George, I said, "What happens if it rains?" They said, "We've done this 49 times, and it never rained, including the time it was forecast to rain and Charlton Heston was the king. He said, 'It will not rain on me,' and it didn't."
I'm afraid I don't have the same level of pull that Charlton Heston did, so I'm just going to cross my fingers and hope for the best. A couple of former kings that I know told me a little bit of what to expect. There's obviously a lot of events before and after the parade itself that I'm looking forward to. And I'm looking forward to experiencing some more good old fashioned New Orleans hospitality, and maybe even having it kicked up a level since I'm the king for the weekend.
Didn't G.W. Bailey, who reigned in 2013, help sell you on the idea?
Simmons: Yeah, and several local guys that I've gotten to know over the years on different trips for work. G.W. is a real close friend.
He's coming back to ride again this year.
Simmons: He'll be there. G.W. has a big connection to New Orleans, even though he's a Texas boy. From the first time I met him, he talked about what a great town it is. A charity called the Sunshine Kids is one of the things that takes G.W. to New Orleans each year.
Bacchus is no stranger to big names reigning as king -- and several have announced they'll return for the 50th anniversary.
Some past Bacchus kings have gotten a little rowdy. James Gandolfini famously tried to wrestle his throne from its moorings atop the float. How do you think you'll rank on the Bacchus monarch rowdiness scale?
Simmons: I think I'm going to be very disappointing. My rowdy days are pretty much behind me. I did all the damage I could do before I was very well known. I think that was probably the best way to go.
People along the parade route that might not recognize your name will see you and go, "Oh, he's that guy from...." What will they say?
Simmons: Well, that's become a real good question. It's definitely a couple of handfuls of things that I get stopped for on the street. I'll have people stop me and say, "I saw you in 'Das Barbecü' off Broadway in the 1990s" or "I saw you in a play at the Big Forks Summer Playhouse in Montana in 1977." Not that frequently, but those things do come up.
It could be anything from "Spider Man" to Farmers Insurance to "Oz" to "Whiplash" to "Juno" to "The Closer." And now we have "Counterpart" on the air, which is getting a really good response. That's the one that hopefully people are tuning into right now, Sunday nights on Starz.
After you ride, there will be a new answer to the trivia question, "What do J.K. Simmons, Bob Hope, Drew Brees and Hulk Hogan have in common?" They've all been Bacchus.
Simmons: I knew about several of these guys, G.W. and Gandolfini and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. I knew probably a dozen of the former kings. But then when I started hearing about guys like Danny Kaye and Bob Hope and Kirk Douglas, that really made the honor start to sink in.
Approximately 80 Best Supporting Actor Oscars have been given out, but only 50 people have been king of Bacchus. So technically, this is more prestigious than an Oscar.
Simmons: There you go! It's a more exclusive club than I've ever been in.
Have elements of the yellow M&M been worked into your Bacchus costume?
Simmons: The theme is the golden anniversary (of Bacchus), so there will be some gold prominently featured on the costume. So I guess gold and yellow -- we can put those in the same world.
Have you gotten your throwing arm in shape? Any special exercises to prepare to throw thousands of doubloons and cups?
Simmons: I've been working on a variety of..... I don't want to throw my arm out, so I'm going to do some back-hand, some underhand, a little bit of left handed. I'm going to try to spread it around so I'm not in too rough shape on Monday morning.
There are 250,000 gold page doubloons on your float, and 75,000 red kings doubloons. A staggering amount of stuff will be dispensed from your float.
Simmons: I continue to be informed about what a gigantic event this is. It's one of those things that you can't really understand the experience until you go do it. We're excited to get the weekend kicked off.
Hopefully the rain that is expected on Sunday will end by the time the parade rolls.
Simmons: Fingers crossed. Maybe Charlton Heston, from wherever he is, can throw us a little help.
Please don't pummel our new King Kong. That’s the request Krewe of Bacchus officials are making ahead of their 50th anniversary parade on Sunday.