J.K. Simmons to Receive Spotlight Award From Palm Springs Film Festival

Actor plays brutal music teacher in Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash”

Veteran character actor J.K. Simmons, who is enjoying the strongest awards buzz of his career for his role as the sadistic music teacher in “Whiplash,” will receive the Spotlight Award, Actor at the 26th Palm Springs International Film Festival, PSIFF organizers announced on Tuesday.

The honor will be presented at PSIFF’s Awards Gala on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, an annual fundraiser for the festival located in a desert resort town 100 miles east of Los Angeles. It presents awards to an array of actors and filmmakers, typically looking for likely Oscar nominees to give themselves bragging rights.

Simmons, whose previous roles include a neo-Nazi convict in the HBO series “Oz,” Juno’s dad in “Juno” and Peter Parker’s editor in Sam Raimi‘s “Spider-Man” movies, was cast in Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” after creating the role in a short-film version of the movie. “To be having a breakthrough when you’re pushing 60 is an interesting way to put it,” he recently told TheWrap.

(Simmons is currently 59, but will turn 60 less than a week after after the Palm Springs gala.)

Past recipients of the Spotlight Award include Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain. The festival has previously announced that it will give acting awards to Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore.

The film festival itself will run from Jan. 2 through Jan. 12.