Jeff Daniels is a popular American actor and musician, who is widely known for his role in the 1994 comedy film ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and its 2014 sequel ‘Dumb and Dumber to.’ He is also popular for his role as Will McAvoy on the HBO series ‘The Newsroom’ for which he received the Emmy Award for Best Actor. Daniels began his career with the 1981 American drama film ‘Ragtime’ where he played a supporting role. His first important role was in the award-winning American romantic comedy ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo.’ His performance won him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. He then appeared in the action comedy ‘Something Wild’. The movie was a big hit, earning a cult status. His success earned him significant roles in several popular films including ‘Terms of Endearment,’ ‘Arachnophobia,’ ‘Speed,’ ‘The Lookout,’ ‘Looper,’ and ‘The Martian.’ He also founded ‘The Purple Rose Theatre Company’ in 1991, which takes its name from his film ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’. It provides a year long apprenticeship program for young aspiring artists.
Childhood & Early Life
Jeff Warren Daniels was born in Athens, Georgia, on 19 February 1955 to Robert Lee Daniels and Marjorie J. His father was a teacher as well as the owner of a lumber company.
A few weeks after his birth, his family moved to Michigan. He attended the Central Michigan University, and was involved with the school’s theater program as well. However, in his junior year itself, he decided to drop out. He moved to New York to work with the Circle Repertory Company.
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Jeff Daniels made his stage debut with the play ‘Fifth of July’ in 1976. After that, he acted in several other plays such as ‘Lemon Sky’ for which he received a Drama Desk Award for Best Supporting Actor, and ‘Johnny Got his Gun’ for which he won an ‘Obie Award.’
His made his film debut with a supporting role in the 1981 American drama ‘Ragtime’, which was directed by Miloš Forman. The film starred actors such as James Cagney, Fran Drescer, and Frankie Faison.
His next appearance was in 1983 in the Oscar award-winning movie ‘Terms of Endearment’, a comedy drama, in which he played a supporting role. His next movie was ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’, a 1985 American romantic comedy, which was written and directed by Woody Allen. The film won several awards and earned Daniels a nomination for the Golden Globe Awards.
Jeff Daniels earned more fame and success in the 1990s, appearing in several hit films such as the horror comedy ‘Arachnophobia’ (1990), the sci-fi movie ‘Timescape’ (1992), the well-known hit comedy ‘Dumb and Dumber’ (1994) for which he earned massive fame, the family drama ‘Fly Away Home’ (1996), and the comedy drama ‘Pleasantville’ (1998).
Over the next decade, he continued to appear in several successful movies such as ‘The Hours’ a 2002 British American drama film, ‘The Lookout’ a 2007 American crime film, and ‘Howl’, a 2010 American experimental film.
He appeared in the lead role in the American TV political drama ‘The Newsroom’ which premiered on HBO on 24 June 2012. Daniels appeared as a character named Will McAvoy, who is both an anchor and managing editor of a news network named ‘News Night’. His role was widely appreciated and earned him the Primetime Emmy Award as well as four other award nominations.
In 2014, he appeared in ’Dumb and Dumber To’, which was the sequel to the 1994 hit movie ‘Dumb and Dumber’. Though it was reviewed negatively by critics, it turned out to be a huge commercial success, grossing nearly $ 170 million worldwide.
Some of his recent works are ‘The Martian’, a 2015 American sci-fi film, and ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ a 2016 sci-fi adventure film, which is the last installment of the well-known Divergent series.
’Arachnophobia’, a 1990 American horror film which was directed by Frank Marshall, was the one of the most significant works of Jeff Daniels’ career. It also earned him the Saturn Award for best actor. The story focuses on a newly discovered Venezuelan spider, which is being transported to a small American town that produces a new species of deadly spiders. The film turned out to be a commercial success, and received mostly positive reviews from critics.
Daniels played one of the two lead roles (other was played by Jim Carrey) in the 1994 American comedy ‘Dumb and Dumber’. The film is about two unintelligent friends who set out on a trip to return a briefcase full of money back to its owner, but are pursued by a group of criminals. The film was a commercial hit, and also earned a cult status. A sequel was released after 20 years, in 2014 named ‘Dumb and Dumber to’.
Another significant work in Daniels’ career is the 2005 American comedy-drama ‘The Squid and the Whale’ directed by Noah Baumbach. The story is about two boys dealing with their parents’ divorce. The movie was a huge success, earning Daniels and his co-stars the Gotham Award for Best Cast, along with four other award nominations.
'The Newsroom' an American TV political drama, which started airing on HBO from June 2012, was Daniels’ first significant work on television. The show, in which he played the lead role as Will McAvoy, became hugely popular, and won him the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, along with four other award nominations. Other cast members included Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr. Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, and Dev Patel.
Awards & Achievements
Jeff Daniels has won several awards in his career. Some of are the Saturn Award for Best Actor in 1991 for his role in ‘Arachnophobia’, International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actor in 1992 for his role in ‘Timescape,’ and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor for his role in ‘The Newsroom’ in 2013. He has earned numerous award nominations as well throughout his career.
Personal Life & Legacy
Daniels got married to his college sweetheart in Kathleen Rosemary Treado, in 1979. The couple has three children, Benjamin, Lucas, and Nellie.