Childhood & Early Years
Jeffrey Duncan Jones was born on September 28, 1946, in Buffalo, New York, USA. His father, Douglas Bennett Jones, died when he was a year old. His mother, Ruth née Schooley, was an art historian, who encouraged him to become an actor. He has an older brother, Douglas Bevan Jones.
Jones was educated at the ‘Putney School,’ an independent high school located in Putney, Vermont, from where he graduated in 1964. Thereafter, he enrolled at the ‘Lawrence University’ as a pre-med student, eventually graduating with a BA degree in 1968.
While studying at the ‘Lawrence University,’ he began to participate in university productions, appearing in ‘Hobson's Choice’ in his sophomore year. His performance in the play caught the attention of noted theater director Tyrone Guthrie, who offered him a job at the ‘Guthrie Theater’ in Minneapolis.
In 1969, as arranged by Guthrie, he moved to England to undertake a course at the ‘London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.’ He attended the institute for 4 years. Following this, he joined the ‘Stratford Theatre,’ Ontario, working with them for 3 years, while also debuting in films with a small part in ‘The Revolutionary’ (1970).
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Jeffrey Jones began his career at the ‘Guthrie Theater,’ possibly in 1967, after being noticed by Tyrone Guthrie, and eventually worked with them for around a year. He appeared in numerous plays across South America, England, Canada, and the US. In 1974, he joined the ‘Actors Theater’ of Louisville, playing various roles, ranging from William Shakespeare to ‘Frankenstein.’
Sometime in the middle of the 1970s, he settled down in New York City, debuting on ‘Broadway’ with ‘Trelawny of the "Wells"’ on October 15, 1975. It was followed by ‘Secret Service’ (1976), ‘Boy Meets Girl’ (1976), ‘The Crucifer of Blood’ (1978), and ‘The Elephant Man’ (1979).
In 1976, he debuted on TV with ‘The Adams Chronicles’ and ‘Sara.’ This was followed by small parts in 'Great Performances' (1977), 'Kojak' (1977), and 'Interrogation in Budapest' (1978). However, no big role came his way at that time and he continued to concentrate on stage work.
From May 18, 1981, to September 4, 1983, he appeared as ‘Clive’/’Edward’ in the ‘off-Broadway’ production of ‘Cloud Nine.’ His performance in the play led to him being cast as ‘Clive Barlow’ in ‘Easy Money’ (1983) and as ‘Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor,’ in the period drama film ‘Amadeus’ (1984).
Although ‘Amadeus’ earned him critical acclaim as well as a ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination, he failed to get further roles, because producers were convinced that he was fit only for period movies. Finally in 1985, he was cast in ‘Transylvania 6-5000.’
In 1986, he received his lucky break, when he was cast as ‘Edward R. Rooney’ in ‘Ferris Bueller's Day Off.’ His performance in this teen comedy film almost made him a cultural icon, and roles began to follow.
In the late 1980s, he appeared as ‘Major Fischer’ in 'The Hanoi Hilton' (1987), as ‘Charles Deetz’ in 'Beetlejuice' (1988), as ‘George Lestrade’ in ‘Without a Clue’ (1988), as ‘Elliot Draison’ in ‘Who's Harry Crumb?’ (1989), and as ‘Gercourt’ in ‘Valmont’ (1989). Equally active on TV, he also starred in the sitcom ‘The People Next Door’ (1989).
In the 1990s, he appeared in 15 films, featuring in major roles in many of them. Some such notable films starring him were ‘Out on a Limb’ (1992), ‘Mom and Dad Save the World (1992), ‘Ed Wood’ (1994), ‘Houseguest’ (1995), ‘The Crucible’ (1996), ‘The Devil's Advocate’ (1997), 'The Pest' (1997), and 'Ravenous' (1999).
Continuing to work in the new millennium, he appeared in eight films till 2016. Some of the films starring him during this time were ‘Heartbreakers’ (2001), ‘Dr. Dolittle 2’ (2001), 'Who's Your Caddy?' (2007), and '10.0 Earthquake'(2014). His last appearance on the big screen was in a short called ‘7 Days’ (2016).
In the 2000s and the 2010s, he had appeared in a number of TV productions, the most significant of them being ‘Deadwood,’ which featured him as ‘A. W. Merrick’ in 33 of its episodes, from 2004 to 2006. Later, he reprised the same role in 'Deadwood: The Movie,’ a made-for-TV film aired in 2019.
He lent his voice to a number of animated projects, such as ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ ‘Duckman,’ ‘The Zeta Project,’ ‘Justice League,’ and ‘Eek! Stravaganza.’
Family, Personal Life & Legacy
Jones met Canadian voice coach Lloy Coutts while working at the ‘Stratford Theatre’ in Stratford, Ontario. Eventually, they got married. Their son, Julian Coutts, was born on October 23, 1971, and later became an actor.
In 2002, Jones was arrested for possessing child pornography and soliciting a 14-year-old boy to pose nude for photographs. He was eventually sentenced to a 5-year probation and also had to receive counseling. He was also required to register as a “sex offender.” In 2004 and 2010, he was arrested for failing to update his “sex offender” status.