You Can’t Run Forever Filmmaker on Directing Husband J.K. Simmons as a Psycho

With Oscar winner J.K. Simmons leading your movie, you’re already off to a solid start. Filmmaker Michelle Schumacher — who also happens to be married to Simmons — has a new film out this week that features the talented actor as a “psychopathic” villain, as Simmons recently described to us. A slew of other ominous adjectives come to mind when thinking about his mysterious character in Lionsgate’s You Can’t Run Forever, which centers on a mom in distress, Jenny (Fernanda Urrejola), trying to find her lost teenage daughter, Miranda (Isabelle Anaya). Meanwhile, Miranda is running for her life from a serial killer whose motive remains mysterious throughout much of the film.

It’s a terrifying thrill ride of a feature, and we recently caught up with Schumacher to learn more about how COVID-19 inspired the themes of her new film, why seeing her husband perform rage on-screen doesn’t scare her, and which other filmmakers out there she’d love to shadow these days.

Why Schumacher Cast Husband J.K. Simmons as the Villain

You Can’t Run Forever (2024)


You Can’t Run Forever is a thriller directed by Michael Johnson and released in 2024.. The film follows a former CIA agent, played by Chris Evans, who finds himself entangled in a dangerous conspiracy that forces him back into the world of espionage he tried to leave behind.

Release Date
May 17, 2024

Michelle Schumacher

1h 42m

Carolyn Carpenter , Michelle Schumacher

Rubber Tree Productions , Voltage Pictures


Sure, Simmons is playing a murderous lunatic who — no spoilers here, since you’ll learn — will easily gun someone down if they rub him the wrong way, but as the movie unfolds, we slowly learn more about his character Wade. “He understands the layers in things,” Schumacher told MovieWeb about her husband. “And we feel, Carolyn Carpenter, my co-writer, and myself, and Randall — the producer and my brother — that it’s a layered thriller, which was something that we tried to accomplish — that it’s a cat-and-mouse, but there are layers to it. And he’s damaged, and [the protagonist Miranda] is damaged even before the movie begins.”

Since Wade has at least a handful of terrifying, unexpectedly violent moments throughout You Can’t Run Forever, we were curious if Schumacher ever gets spooked during production. “No, because Carolyn and I wrote this, and we’ve already done so much work ahead of time — first draft, second draft — you’ve already done so much pre-production, it’s like, you lose perspective,” she told us.


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You Can’t Run Forever Is a Family Affair

You Can’t Run Forever might be a tense thriller, but it’s ultimately about family. That was true behind the scenes as well, with not just husband-and-wife Simmons and Schumacher working together, but their son Joe Simmons composed the score, their daughter Olivia Simmons stars as Emily, and her aforementioned brother Randle Schumacher produced the film. The filmmaker detailed the appeal of working with those closest to her in real life:

That’s my favorite thing to do, is collaborate with my family, my friends…
One of the reasons I write and do film, is to work with my family, because I just feel like life is short, right?
Do as much of what you love as possible, you know? And that’s what I love
. I love collaborating with people who I love and respect and who I know are good, not just my family, but friends.”

You Can’t Run Forever Was Inspired by the Mental Effects of the COVID Lockdown

With a dark and twisted tale like You Can’t Run Forever, one might be surprised to hear what real-world issue first gave rise to the story tropes and themes of Schumacher’s new film. “The inspiration for this one was COVID, really, and lockdown and how it just created really a mental illness in our society, and how difficult that was, and that the younger generation, there’s such anxiety and thoughts of suicide, and just so much stress,” she said. Schumacher added:

I kind of wanted to explore that in a way that people can at first relate to, but then give them, instead of it just be about that, be about overcoming that… I think film can be so healing.


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True-Crime Obsession and Yorgos Lanthimos

You Can’t Run Forever offers a neat little peek into Wade’s backstory at one point during the film, but his character overall remains shrouded in a degree of mystery as to why he was ultimately driven to his point of insanity. “I’m a big watcher of true crime and things like that, because I’m so interested in extremes of the human mind and the human condition, like, the worst we can be, and then absolutely best we can be,” Schumacher told us, adding:

“I thought that was terrifying, that people just do stuff, and you don’t get answers. A lot of the time, you do not know why somebody did something. And so we thought that was terrifying. But then we thought, we need to show that he’s damaged, too.”


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Michelle Schumacher’s new film is a cat-and-mouse thriller that’s punchy and effective despite a cluttered ending.

Looking ahead, we had to ask if Schumacher ever pitches certain character archetypes to her husband, ones that he hasn’t tackled over the years. “I’ve asked him that. I’m like, ‘What haven’t you played, that you want to play?’ And he never has an answer,” she said. “And then I’m thinking, ‘What character would challenge him?’ In [our previous collaboration] I’m Not Here, he didn’t say a word, literally, and that was such a fun exploration.”

We were also curious if there are certain A-listers these days who Schumacher has had her eye on, in terms of future collaborations. “As a director, I would love to work with another director. I would love to either shadow Sam Raimi or Yorgos Lanthimos,” she said. “To be honest, there’s a lot of great actors… Emma Stone would be fantastic to work with. I think she’s amazing. Jennifer Lawrence, actually, I think is a really good actress… But I’d love to work with Yorgos Lanthimos. His brain, like, how does he come up with that? And then Sam is great, such a genius storyteller.”

For now, there’s some excellent storytelling to be found in Schumacher’s new film. From Lionsgate, You Can’t Run Forever is now available in theaters, on digital, and on demand. You can purchase it through digital platforms like YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play, Fandango at Home, and through Prime Video below:

Watch on Prime Video


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