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'Whiplash' Director Damien Chazelle, Star J.K. Simmons Talk About Drumming Movie

by Shawn Christ   Sep 27, 2014 15:38 PM EDT

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The jazz-drumming movie Whiplash starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons has been creating some serious buzz around film festivals. Simmons joined writer-director Damien Chazelle recently for a Q&A about the film. 

Whiplash follows the relationship between jazz drummer prodigy Andrew Neyman (Teller) and teacher Terence Fletcher (Simmons), who uses some extreme techniques to push his student towards greatness. Inspiration for the movie came from Chazelle's experiences in high school as a drummer who vomited every day because of how "emotionally and psychologically oppressive" his teacher was, Billboard notes. 

"My motivation for being a good drummer was born out of fear, which in a way, seems so antithetical to what art should be," the director said before the film's premiere at the New York Film Festival. Chazelle wrote the script "just to grapple with my personal experiences and whether they said anything broader about other art forms. It poses a lot of questions, especially in a music like jazz, which is renowned for its sense of freedom and being a 'f--k you' to an authority." 

"That was the great dichotomy in Fletcher that jumped out at me," Simmons added. "It's easy for someone to see this film at face value to see that he can't do, so he teaches and terrorizes, but it's much deeper than that. I think that in people of that ilk, [the tendency toward abuse] comes from a passion, a commitment to greatness and creating great art, and then it comes from a frustration that we're human beings and we don't achieve perfection. And some people handle that better than others." By all accounts, Simmons, a veteran actor whose credits include HBO's Oz and Spider-Man, gives a performance worthy of an Oscar nod. 

The movie is scheduled for an Oct. 10 release. 

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