J.K. Simmons To Star In ‘Lightyears’ Amazon Sci-Fi Series, Replacing Ed O’Neill

Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) is set as the co-lead opposite fellow Oscar winner Sissy Spacek in Amazon’s genre-bending drama series Lightyears, a co-production between Amazon Studios and Legendary Television. Simmons replaces Ed O’Neill who was originally cast as the male lead in the project but exited for family reasons.

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Written and co-executive produced by Holden Miller, Lightyears follows Franklin and Irene York, played by Simmons and Spacek, a couple who years ago discovered a chamber buried in their backyard which inexplicably leads to a strange, deserted planet. They’ve carefully guarded their secret ever since, but when an enigmatic young man enters their lives, the Yorks’ quiet existence is quickly upended…and the mysterious chamber they thought they knew so well turns out to be much more than they could ever have imagined.

Simmons’ Franklin is a former woodworker with a charmingly grumpy demeanor. After more than 50 years of marriage, Franklin still has a powerful devotion to his wife but doesn’t share her fascination with the chamber, a secret which weighs heavily on him. For her sake, he is willing to endure its presence in their lives, but his patience is wearing thin.

Daniel C. Connolly serves as showrunner. He executive produces with Mosaic’s Jimmy Miller and Sam Hansen. Philip Martin is executive producer and producing director for Season 1. Juan José Campanella will direct and executive produce the first two episodes of the series, scheduled to begin filming later this year.

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This year, Simmons will star alongside Chris Pratt in Amazon Prime Video’s sci-fi thriller film The Tomorrow War. Simmons, who voices a character on the breakout new Prime Video animated series Invincible, was recently seen starring in Palm Springs and heavily recurred in the Apple TV+ miniseries Defending Jacob. Simmons previously headlined the praised Starz series Counterpart. He is repped by Gersh.

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