J.K. Simmons is adamant that his latest film The Front Runner will provoke much debate amongst cinemagoers.

The actor has previously starred in movies such as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, for which he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2015.

His most recent role sees him play Bill Dixon in Jason Reitman’s biographical drama based on the rise and fall of American Senator Gary Hart, a Democratic presidential candidate in 1988 whose profile was marred by accusations of an extramarital affair. But Simmons has insisted that questions of infidelity are not at the heart of the feature.

“What the movie does, and I think what Jason wanted the movie to do, is provoke discussion and debate,” the 63-year-old explained in an interview with Collider. “He didn’t want to come down on the side of Gary Hart being a guilty adulterer, and that it’s a good thing he’s not president, and he didn’t want to come down on the opposite side and say that the press should have left him alone and he should have been president. He wanted to leave all of those questions open for debate.”

The Front Runner also stars Hugh Jackman as Hart, as well as performances from Vera Farmiga and Alfred Molina. And Simmons has his own thoughts on the real-life story, which eventually led to Hart dropping out of the Democratic presidential nomination bid over the allegations.

“There’s certainly been a lot of conjecture about that, at the time and since then. I think if he’d been more willing to play the game and try to spin and wiggle, it’s possible that he could have weathered it,” the Counterpart star considered. “Certainly today, he could probably have weathered it more easily, in light of what’s gone on, in the last 30 years, that has failed to totally derail political careers.”