Jeff Daniels

Jeff Daniels

American actor Jeff Daniels built a versatile career where he moved easily between comedy and dramatic roles. Born in Athens, Georgia, he grew up in Chelsea, Michigan. He studied theater in college, but left to pursue a professional career in New York. He gained notice with his Off-Broadway performance in "Fifth of July," and recreated his role for the Broadway production. He began landing small television roles, including a guest appearance on "Hawaii Five-O" (CBS, 1968-80). The actor moved into film work with a role in Milos Forman's "Ragtime" (1981). His profile took a huge jump when he starred with Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, and Debra Winger in the Academy Award-winning "Terms of Endearment" (1983). He was given the chance to step into a starring role when Woody Allen cast him as one of the leads, along with Mia Farrow, in "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985). The role would earn Daniels a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. His role opposite Melanie Griffith in Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild" (1986) earned him another Golden Globe nom. He began working steadily, starring in an array of films. One stretch of the 1990s showcased his diversity. He was part of the ensemble of the Civil War epic "Gettysburg" (1993). He played Keanu Reeves's partner in the thriller "Speed" (1994), and joined Jim Carrey for the blockbuster sophmoric comedy "Dumb and Dumber" (1994). Then he starred in the family films "Fly Away Home" (1996) and "101 Dalmations" (1996). The actor never forgot his theater roots, returning to the stage on a regular basis and added playwright to his resume as well. He later directed the film version of one of his plays, "Escanaba in da Moonlight" (2001). He earned critical raves for his role as a father struggling through a divorce in Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale" (2005). Daniels turned to television for what would become one of his most acclaimed roles. The actor starred as TV news anchor Will McAvoy in Aaron Sorkin's drama "The Newsroom" (HBO, 2012-14). The role earned Daniels an Emmy Award. On the big screen, he re-teamed with Carrey for the sequel "Dumb and Dumber To" (2014), and joined the ensembles of "The Martian" (2015) and "Steve Jobs" (2015). His strong work on television continued with a starring role in the miniseries "The Looming Tower" (Hulu, 2018) as real-life counter-intelligence agent John O'Neill, who was convinced that the U.S. was being targeted by Al-Queda and died in the World Trade Center attacks. He also starred as outlaw Frank Griffin in the Western drama "Godless" (Netflix, 2018). Daniels earned Emmy nominations for both projects, winning for "Godless." On stage, he earned critical raves and a Tony nomination for his role as Atticus Finch in a 2018 production of "To Kill a Mockingbird."