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Also Known As: Jeffrey Daniels, Jeffrey Warren Daniels Died:
Born: February 19, 1955 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Athens, Georgia, USA Profession: actor, playwright, guitarist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An all-American leading man with a flair for playing perplexed characters overtaken by unusual circumstances, actor Jeff Daniels first registered with the public with his performances as a mostly self-involved semi-intellectual who cheats on his cancer-stricken wife in "Terms of Endearment" (1983). Two years later, he solidified his status as the smug actor in the film-within-the-film who steps off the screen to woo Mia Farrow in "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985), and had his defining role as the feckless hero in the offbeat comedy-thriller, "Something Wild" (1986). From there, he oscillated easily from quirky character pieces to big studio films like "Gettysburg" (1993) and the action thriller "Speed" (1994). Daniels was at his most hilarious as a good-natured doofus opposite Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber" (1994) and starred in the live action version of "101 Dalmatians" (1996), before turning in an endearing performance as a diner owner-turned-painter in "Pleasantville" (1998). He had a series of supporting roles in "Blood Work" (2002), "The Hours" (2002), and "Gods and Generals" (2003), before delivering an acclaimed performance in the indie hit "The Squid and the Whale" (2005). The decidedly...

An all-American leading man with a flair for playing perplexed characters overtaken by unusual circumstances, actor Jeff Daniels first registered with the public with his performances as a mostly self-involved semi-intellectual who cheats on his cancer-stricken wife in "Terms of Endearment" (1983). Two years later, he solidified his status as the smug actor in the film-within-the-film who steps off the screen to woo Mia Farrow in "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985), and had his defining role as the feckless hero in the offbeat comedy-thriller, "Something Wild" (1986). From there, he oscillated easily from quirky character pieces to big studio films like "Gettysburg" (1993) and the action thriller "Speed" (1994). Daniels was at his most hilarious as a good-natured doofus opposite Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber" (1994) and starred in the live action version of "101 Dalmatians" (1996), before turning in an endearing performance as a diner owner-turned-painter in "Pleasantville" (1998). He had a series of supporting roles in "Blood Work" (2002), "The Hours" (2002), and "Gods and Generals" (2003), before delivering an acclaimed performance in the indie hit "The Squid and the Whale" (2005). The decidedly anti-Hollywood Daniels next played lead detective Alvin Dewey in "Infamous" (2006), a wise blind man in "The Lookout" (2007) and a Congressman in "State of Play" (2009). Whether quirky or serious or somewhere in between, Daniels proved himself to be a chameleon-like actor in a wide ranging number of roles.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Super Sucker (2003) Director
2.

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Howl (2010)
3.
 Answer Man, The (2009)
4.
 Paper Man (2009)
5.
 Away We Go (2009)
6.
 State of Play (2009)
7.
 Plumm Summer, A (2008)
8.
 Traitor (2008)
9.
 Space Chimps (2008)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Southeastern Michigan
:
Worked as an apprentice with the Circle Repertory Theater in New York City
1976:
First NYC stage appearance, "The Farm"
1978:
Originated the role of Jed in "Fifth of July"; role written expressly for Daniels by playwright Lanford Wilson
1980:
Made Broadway debut reprising the role of Jed for "Fifth of July"
1980:
Made TV acting debut in the CBS miniseries "A Rumor of War"
1981:
Feature acting debut, a bit part in Milo¿ Forman's "Ragtime"
1982:
Played first leading role on TV in the NBC adventure pilot "Catalina C-Lab"
1982:
Starred in one-person off-Broadway show "Johnny Got His Gun"
1983:
Landed first prominent film role as Flap, Debra Winger's cheating husband in James L Brooks' "Terms of Endearment"
1985:
Played first full-fledged romantic lead in Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo"
1986:
Received critical praise for his turn in Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild"
1989:
Played guitar on Don Johnson's album <i>Let It Roll</i>
1990:
Founded the regional theater Purple Rose Theater Company in Chelsea, MI
1993:
Returned to the Broadway stage in "Redwood Curtain"; penned by Lanford Wilson
1993:
Starred as Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain in the Civil War ensemble "Gettysburg"
1994:
Played pivotal role as Keanu Reeves' partner in the hit action film "Speed"
1994:
Co-starred with Jim Carrey in the commercial hit "Dumb and Dumber"
1995:
Reprised stage role in the CBS TV adaptation of "Redwood Curtain"
1996:
Co-starred with Glenn Close in the live action feature "101 Dalmatians"
1998:
Co-starred in Gary Ross' Academy Award-nominated film "Pleasantville"
1999:
NYC debut as playwright, "Thy Kingdom's Come"
2000:
Portrayed George Washington in the A&E original film "The Crossing"
2000:
Played a teacher who assisted his students in cheating in the HBO film "Cheaters"
2001:
Feature directorial debut, "Escanaba in da Moonlight"; also scripted from his play and starred
2002:
Co-starred with Clint Eastwood in the detective thriller "Blood Work"
2002:
Played small but pivotal role as Ed Harris' ex-lover in "The Hours"
2003:
Starred as Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain ¿ the same role he played ten years earlier in "Gettysburg" ¿ in the Civil War drama "Gods and Generals"
2004:
Appeared with Sigourney Weaver in the family drama "Imaginary Heroes"
2005:
Co-starred with Laura Linney in Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale"; earned Independent Spirit and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor
2005:
Co-starred in the George Clooney-directed "Goodnight, and Good Luck," a 1950s-era drama that chronicles broadcaster Edward R. Murrow¿s campaign to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy
2006:
Starred in the Truman Capote biopic "Infamous"
2007:
Played Joseph Gordon-Levitt's blind roommate in the crime thriller "The Lookout"
2009:
Returned to the stage for the Broadway production of Yasmina Reza¿s "God of Carnage"; earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play
2010:
Played a struggling novelist who befriends a high school girl who gives him back his motivation in the independent feature "Paper Man"
2010:
Cast as Professor David Kirk in "Howl," based on Allen Ginsberg's famous poem
2012:
Starred on Aaron Sorkin's drama series "The Newsroom" (HBO) as veteran anchorman Will McAvoy
2012:
Cast opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in sci-fi action "Looper"
2013:
Won first Best Actor Emmy for his role as Will McAvoy on "The Newsroom"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Central Michigan University: Mount Pleasant , Michigan -

Notes

"[Show business is] a business that gets rid of you and you don't even know you've been discarded. I want to be the one who says 'I'm done.'" --Jeff Daniels in USA Today, September 16, 1996.

"Working with megastars is, well, kind of like working with spiders. I've always been the guy in the scene with Meryl or with Debra. I just know they are going to use the take in which she is great. She's the star. Same with the spider (300 of which he co-starred with in 'Arachnophobia' 1990). When the spider crawled down and finally turned right, I'd better deliver the speech correctly because that's the one we're going to use. We're not going to wait twenty takes for Jeff to get it right." --Daniels quoted in Us, October 1991.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Kathleen Daniels. Married c. 1979.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Benjamin Daniels. Born in November 1984.

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