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Jeff Daniels

Jeff Daniels American actor, musician and playwright

American actor, musician and playwright
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American actor, musician and playwright
A.K.A. Дэниэлс, Джефф
Countries United States of America
Occupations Film actor Voice actor Musician Playwright Director Stage actor Television actor
Gender male
Birth 19 February 1955 (Athens)
Star sign PiscesPisces
Education Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University
Notable Works Dumb and Dumber
Jeff Daniels
The details

Jeffrey Warren Daniels (born February 19, 1955) is an American actor, musician and playwright whose career includes roles in films, stage productions and on television, for which he has won two Emmy Awards and received Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Tony Award nominations.

Making his film debut in Ragtime (1981), Daniels's film credits include Terms of Endearment (1983), Arachnophobia (1990), Gettysburg (1993), Speed (1994), 101 Dalmatians (1996), Fly Away Home (1996), Pleasantville (1998), The Hours (2002), Gods and Generals, and Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), The Lookout (2007), Infamous (2006), Looper (2012), Steve Jobs (2015), and The Martian (2015).

Daniels is also known for playing Harry Dunne in the buddy comedy Dumb and Dumber (1994) and its sequel Dumb and Dumber To (2014). He received Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor for his performances in The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Something Wild (1986) and The Squid and the Whale (2005).

Daniels has received a number of award nominations for his work on stage, including Tony Award nominations for Best Actor for his roles in the plays God of Carnage and Blackbird. He is the founder and current executive director of the Chelsea, Michigan-based Purple Rose Theatre Company. From 2012 to 2014, Daniels starred as Will McAvoy in the HBO political drama series The Newsroom, for which he won the 2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. He won a second Primetime Emmy Award in 2018 for his supporting performance in the Netflix miniseries Godless (2017), receiving an additional nomination that year for his leading performance as John P. O'Neill in the Hulu miniseries The Looming Tower (2018).

Early life

Daniels was born in Clarke County, Georgia, to Marjorie J. (née Ferguson) and Robert Lee "Bob" Daniels. He spent the first six weeks of his life in Georgia, where his father was then teaching, and grew up in Chelsea, Michigan. His father owned the Chelsea Lumber Company and was also a onetime mayor of Chelsea.

Daniels was raised Methodist. He attended Central Michigan University and participated in the school's theater program. In the summer of 1976, Daniels attended the Eastern Michigan University drama school to participate in a special Bicentennial Repertory program, where he performed in The Hot l Baltimore and three other plays performed in repertoire. Marshall W. Mason was the guest director at EMU and he invited Jeff to come to New York to work at the Circle Repertory Theatre, where he performed in Fifth of July by Lanford Wilson in the 1977–78 season. Daniels performed in New York in The Shortchanged Review (1979) at Second Stage Theatre. It was the first show of the inaugural season for Second Stage Theatre.


Stage career

Daniels has starred in a number of New York productions, on and off Broadway. On Broadway, he has appeared in Lanford Wilson's Redwood Curtain, A. R. Gurney's The Golden Age and Wilson's Fifth of July, for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Best Supporting Actor. Off-Broadway, he received a Drama Desk nomination for Wilson's Lemon Sky, and an Obie Award for his performance in the Circle Repertory Company production of Johnny Got His Gun. He returned to the stage in 2009, appearing in Broadway's God of Carnage opposite Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden, for which he received a Tony Award nomination.

In 1991, he founded the Purple Rose Theatre Company, a nonprofit stage company in Chelsea. Daniels has written more than a dozen plays for the company.

In 2016, Daniels received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in Blackbird, opposite Michelle Williams.

Film and television career

Daniels made his screen debut in Miloš Forman's Ragtime in 1981. His next film, the Oscar-winning Terms of Endearment, in which he played Debra Winger's callow and unfaithful husband, was his breakthrough. He garnered a Golden Globe nomination as the star of The Purple Rose Of Cairo, directed by Woody Allen. It was the last film that inspired the name for the theater company he established.

Daniels earned his second Golden Globe nomination for starring in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild as an unassuming businessman swept up into a wild night by a mysterious woman (Melanie Griffith). Daniels then starred in the horror–comedy (or "thrill-omedy", as it was described in the promotion) Arachnophobia in 1990. The next year, Daniels starred in two films (Love Hurts and The Butcher's Wife). His next notable role was as Colonel Joshua Chamberlain in Gettysburg. Daniels reprised the role of Chamberlain ten years later in the prequel film Gods and Generals.

In 1994, Daniels would co-star with Jim Carrey in one of his most commercially successful films, Dumb and Dumber. It was a noted departure for Daniels, owing to his status as a dramatic actor. That same year Daniels appeared with Keanu Reeves in the action blockbuster Speed; the film was an enormous hit, grossing over $350 million at the box office.

Daniels would then host Saturday Night Live a second time before the release of the 1996 Disney live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians. Daniels starred as the owner of a litter of dalmatians stolen by the evil Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close). The film was successful, grossing $320 million. Also in 1996 was the family hit film Fly Away Home with Daniels as the supportive single father of Anna Paquin's goose-raising preteen. Daniels then had a critical and commercial misfire with Trial and Error (1997). Daniels would rebound, however, with 1998's Pleasantville as diner owner Bill Johnson, who learns to act as an individual and rebel against the norm at the urging of Tobey Maguire's David. Also starring Reese Witherspoon, Joan Allen, and Don Knotts, Pleasantville was nominated for three Academy Awards. Daniels starred alongside Christopher Lloyd in the critically and commercially unsuccessful film, My Favorite Martian.

Daniels starred in the TV films The Crossing, Cheaters, and the direct-to-video release Chasing Sleep. At this point, in the early 2000s, Daniels began to focus more on his theater work at The Purple Rose Theatre as well as writing, starring, and directing the films Escanaba in da Moonlight and Super Sucker.

Daniels's next major film role would be in Clint Eastwood's Blood Work, which received mixed reviews and was a commercial failure. He would rebound later that year with Stephen Daldry's Academy Award–winning The Hours. The film was also a financial success, grossing well over $100 million. Gods and Generals followed in 2003, as did the action film I Witness, which co-starred James Spader. Daniels then starred in Imaginary Heroes and the 2004 television film adaptation of fellow Michigander and friend Mitch Albom's bestseller The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

The year 2005 proved to be a strong year for Daniels as he garnered notice as the star of the lauded Noah Baumbach film The Squid and the Whale. Daniels received his third Golden Globe nomination for the film, about a divorcing couple and the effect the split has on their children. That year Daniels also starred in the family film adaptation of Because of Winn-Dixie. He would round out the year with a supporting role in the Oscar-nominated film Good Night and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney.

Daniels then starred as the redneck comic foil to Robin Williams's uptight business man in the vacation comedy RV, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. He had a supporting role in the Truman Capote biopic Infamous and in two other independent films, Mama's Boy and The Lookout, for which he was nominated for a Satellite Award.

Daniels had a starring voice-over role as the villain Zartog in animated film Space Chimps. He then took back-to-back supporting roles in political thrillers: Traitor with Don Cheadle and State of Play with Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams. Also in 2009, Daniels would appear in the indie hit Away We Go. 2010 would be a slow year for Daniels. He continued his theater work and had a starring role in the little-seen indie Howl, alongside James Franco as Allen Ginsberg.

In 2012, Daniels became the new announcing voice for Apple with the iPhone 5 ads. Daniels starred in the HBO drama series The Newsroom for three seasons, winning a Primetime Emmy Award. In 2014, he reprised his role as Harry Dunne in Dumb and Dumber To. Daniels portrayed CEO John Sculley in the 2015 biographical drama film Steve Jobs, directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle, and starring Michael Fassbender in the title role. He played David in The Divergent Series: Allegiant and was set to reprise the role in the planned The Divergent Series: Ascendant.

In 2017, Daniels portrayed the villain Frank Griffin in the Netflix original series Godless, winning his second Primetime Emmy Award.

Musical career

Daniels has focused on recording a number of songs that he has written throughout his life, apparently marking key moments. He has kept busy with frequent gigs and six full-length albums, Jeff Daniels Live and Unplugged, Jeff Daniels Live at The Purple Rose Theater, Grandfather's Hat, Keep It Right Here, Together Again, and Days Like These. Proceeds from the album sales benefit The Purple Rose Theater.

Daniels was featured on the cover of the April–May 2011 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine as well as the July–August 2011 issue of Making Music, where he discussed his experiences with music.

Personal life

Daniels married his college sweetheart, a fellow Michigander from the Upper Peninsula (Marquette) Kathleen Rosemary Treado, in 1979. In 1986, Daniels moved back to his native Chelsea, Michigan. The couple have three children: Benjamin (born 1984), Lucas (born 1987), and Nellie (born 1990).

Daniels has appeared as the TV spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, promoting Michigan's effectiveness in bringing in new companies, featured on CNBC. He was inducted into the Michigan Walk of Fame on May 25, 2006, in Lansing, Michigan, and delivered the winter commencement address at the University of Michigan on December 20, 2009, at which he was granted an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts.

Daniels is a Democrat.



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Ragtime P. C. O'Donnell
1983 Terms of Endearment Flap Horton
1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo Tom Baxter/Gil Shepherd
1985 Marie Eddie Sisk
1986 Something Wild Charles Driggs
1986 Heartburn Richard
1987 Radio Days Biff Baxter
1988 The House on Carroll Street Cochran
1988 Sweet Hearts Dance Sam Manners
1989 Checking Out Ray Macklin
1990 Arachnophobia Ross Jennings
1990 Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael Denton Webb
1991 Love Hurts Paul Weaver
1991 The Butcher's Wife Dr. Alex Tremor
1992 Timescape Ben Wilson Also known as Grand Tour: Disaster in Time
1992 There Goes the Neighborhood Willis Embry
1993 Rain Without Thunder Jonathan Garson
1993 Gettysburg Colonel Joshua Chamberlain
1994 Speed Harry Temple
1994 Dumb and Dumber Harry Dunne
1995 Redwood Curtain Lyman Fellers
1996 Fly Away Home Thomas Alden
1996 2 Days in the Valley Alvin Strayer
1996 101 Dalmatians Roger Dearly
1997 Trial and Error Charlie Tuttle
1998 Pleasantville Bill Johnson
1999 My Favorite Martian Tim O'Hara
1999 It's the Rage Warren Harding
2000 Chasing Sleep Ed Saxon
2000 Cheaters Dr. Gerard Plecki
2001 Escanaba in da Moonlight Reuben Soady Also co-writer and director
2002 Super Sucker Fred Barlow Also co-writer and director
2002 Blood Work Jasper "Buddy" Noone
2002 The Hours Louis Waters
2003 Gods and Generals Lt. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain
2003 I Witness James Rhodes
2004 Imaginary Heroes Ben Travis
2004 The Five People You Meet in Heaven The Blue Man
2005 The Squid and the Whale Bernard Berkman
2005 Because of Winn-Dixie The Preacher
2005 Good Night, and Good Luck Sig Mickelson
2006 RV Travis Gornicke
2006 Infamous Alvin Dewey
2007 The Lookout Lewis
2007 Mama's Boy Mert Rosenbloom
2007 A Plumm Summer Narrator
2008 Space Chimps Zartog Voice
2008 Traitor Carter
2009 State of Play Representative George Fergus
2009 The Answer Man Arlen Faber
2009 Away We Go Jerry Farlander
2009 Paper Man Richard Dunn
2010 Howl Professor David Kirk
2012 Looper Abe
2013 Quad Mickey
2014 Dumb and Dumber To Harry Dunne
2015 Steve Jobs John Sculley
2015 The Martian Teddy Sanders
2016 The Divergent Series: Allegiant David
2018 The Catcher Was a Spy Bill Donovan


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Breaking Away College Kid Episode: "Pilot"
1980 Hawaii Five-O Neal Forrester Episode: "The Flight of the Jewels"
1982 American Playhouse Jed Jenkins Episode: "The Fifth of July"
1989 No Place Like Home Mike Television film
1991 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Jeff Daniels/Color Me Badd"
1992 Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story Tom Noonan Television film
1993 Frasier Doug Episode: "Here's Looking at You"
1995 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Jeff Daniels/Luscious Jackson"
2000 The Crossing George Washington Television film
2000 Cheaters Dr. Gerard Plecki Television film
2004 The Goodbye Girl Elliot Garfield Television film
2008 Sweet Nothing in My Ear Dan Miller Television film
2012–2014 The Newsroom Will McAvoy 25 episodes
2017 Godless Frank Griffin 7 episodes
2018 The Looming Tower John O’Neill 10 episodes
2018 The Emperor's Newest Clothes The Emperor (voice) Television special


Year Title Role Theatre
1976 The Farm Arthur Circle Theatre
1977 My Life Young Eddie
1978 Lulu Schwarz / Mr. Hunidei
1978 Two from the Late Show Nephew (Brontosaurus)
1978 Fifth of July Jed Jenkins
1980–1982 New Apollo Theatre
1982 Johnny Got His Gun Joe Bonham Circle Repertory Theatre
1982 Three Sisters Andrei Sergeevich Prozorov New York City Center
1984 The Golden Age Tom Jack Lawrence Theatre
1985 Lemon Sky Alan McGinn/Cazale Theatre
1993 Redwood Curtain Lyman Brooks Atkinson Theatre
2007 Blackbird Ray New York City Center
2009–2010 God of Carnage Alan / Michael Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
2016 Blackbird Ray Belasco Theatre
2018 To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch Shubert Theatre

Purple Rose Theatre Company

Purple Rose Theatre

The Purple Rose Theatre Company (or PRTC) was founded by Daniels in 1991. Originally known as the Garage Theatre, 'The Rose' takes its name from Woody Allen's 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo, which starred Daniels and Mia Farrow. The theatre provides resources for training actors, playwrights and other theatre artists residing in the Midwest region and develops new plays based on life in the Great Lakes Basin. The main performance space and administrative offices occupy a building in Chelsea, Michigan once owned by Daniels' grandfather. The theatre produces four shows a year on a 3/4 thrust stage in a 168-seat house. The PRTC is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and operates under a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) Agreement with the Actors' Equity Association (AEA).

Apprentice program

The Purple Rose offers a year-long apprenticeship program for young artists entering a career in theatre. Apprentices are paid a 'modest stipend' and work as many as 60–80 hours per week gaining experience in lighting, sound, stage management, design, set construction, and administrative/box office work. The seven apprentices also maintain and clean the theatre's facilities. The program was inspired by Jeff Daniels' experience as an apprentice with the Circle Repertory Company in New York City.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1981 Drama Desk Award Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Fifth of July Nominated
1983 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play Johnny Got His Gun Nominated
1986 Lemon Sky Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical The Purple Rose of Cairo Nominated
1987 Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical Something Wild Nominated
1991 Saturn Award Best Actor Arachnophobia Won
1992 International Fantasy Film Award Best Actor Timescape Won
1994 Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actor Gettysburg Nominated
1995 MTV Movie Award Best On-Screen Duo Shared with Jim Carrey Dumb & Dumber Nominated
1999 Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Pleasantville Nominated
2002 Video Software Dealers Association Independent Career Achievement Award Won
U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Audience Award Super Sucker Won
2003 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast Shared with the cast The Hours Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Acting Ensemble Shared with the cast Nominated
2005 Gotham Award Best Ensemble Cast Shared with the cast Good Night, and Good Luck. Nominated
Best Ensemble Cast Shared with the cast The Squid and the Whale Won
2006 Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Nominated
Independent Spirit Award Best Male Lead Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Award Best Actor Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast Shared with the cast Good Night, and Good Luck. Nominated
2007 London Critics' Film Circle Award Actor of the Year The Squid and the Whale Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Drama The Lookout Nominated
2008 Las Palmas Film Festival Honorary Lady Harimaguada Won
2009 Tony Award Best Actor in a Play God of Carnage Nominated
2012 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Series, Drama The Newsroom Nominated
2013 Best Actor in a Series, Drama Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Won
2014 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2015 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2016 Tony Award Best Actor in a Play Blackbird Nominated
2018 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Godless Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Won
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie The Looming Tower Nominated
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