Often, child actors fade into nonexistence after their first big break. After becoming familiar faces and maybe even a household name, young actors generally wind up becoming more of a factoid or an answer to a trivia question than a serious actor. For John Francis Daley, who cut his teeth in "Freaks & Geeks" (NBC 1999-2000) and the 1994 touring production of "The Who's Tommy," that wasn't the case. Despite finding success as a teenager, Daley bucked the trend, carving out a path that led to a career with many notable roles in television and film. Eventually he moved onto screenwriting, penning everything from R-rated comedies such as "Horrible Bosses" (2011) to family films such as "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" (2013) before moving into the director chair with their franchise reboot "Vacation" (2015) and scoring a blockbuster hit with their screenplay for "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017).
Growing up in Nyack, New York, Daley witnessed acting firsthand courtesy of his father, R.F. Daley, who was a regular in theater productions in the area. His father's involvement in the industry led to the young Daley's first big break, portraying Young Tommy in the U.S. and international tours of the rock musical "The Who's Tommy" beginning in 1994. Daley was only 9 years old when he went on the tour that took him all over the world. Following that, he attended school, though he still starred in shows at his middle school, until his next break came in the form of "Freaks & Geeks," the short-lived TV cult classic that spawned numerous careers, including Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Linda Cardellini. As lead protagonist Sam Weir, Daley showed range and talent, even more impressive because he was barely 15 years old during the filming of the show. His charisma, charm, and laidback attitude opened doors that led to numerous television roles in the ensuing years, ranging from "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002) to "Boston Public" (Fox 2000-2004), on which he acted opposite his father as a father and son. During this time, he developed his writing skills, working on several shorts and even directing a few as well. In 2007, he joined the cast of the comic-tinged crime procedural "Bones" (Fox 2005-2015) as rookie FBI psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets.
While Daley developed a stable career for himself in the world of television, even writing a few episodes of "Bones," he hit a new plateau of success with "Horrible Bosses," a dark comedy he co-wrote with his writing partner Jonathan Goldstein. "Horrible Bosses" was well received both at the box office and by critics, and Daley and Goldstein became sought-after writers. The duo followed their first success with the Steve Carell comedy "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (2013), though it wasn't as well received. The pair also co-wrote the animated sequel "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" (2013). Around the same time, Daley co-starred with Anna Kendrick in "Rapture-Palooza" (2013) before Daley and Goldstein co-wrote "Horrible Bosses 2" (2014), revisiting the characters from the film that made them hot commodities. Daley and Goldstein then successfully rebooted an update/reboot of the hit "National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983), with Rusty Griswold inheriting his father Clark's bad luck with family trips. After going into turnaround, the duo's "Vacation" began filming in 2014, with Daley and Goldstein sharing the director's chair. The new project meant that Daley had to exit "Bones" early in its final season The film was released in July 2015 to mixed reviews but decent box office. Daley and Goldstein next reteamed for the screenplay for superhero blockbuster "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017).
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Was cast in the title role of "The Who's Tommy" in a live theater traveling company, performing alongside his father in the USA and Germany (date approximate)
Contributed vocals to Tony Bennett's children's album "The Playground"
Had a recurring role on Fox's "Boston Public" as Anthony Ward
Directed a short film titled "What Babies Do"
Had a small role, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in the comedy "View from the Top"
Cast as Jim, the rookie pastry chef on Fox's "Kitchen Confidential"
Co-writes "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"
Co-writes "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2."
Co-writes "Horrible Bosses 2."