Everett Collection; Melissa Moseley/HBO; Matthias Clamer/SHOWTIME

by alexis wilson

From Dumb and Dumber to The Newsroom, Jeff Daniels always understands the assignment. He breaks down HIS most memorable roles.

Jeff Daniels roles, according to Jeff Daniels


Hawaii Five-O (1980)

"I'd been in New York going on four years when we got to do 5th of July, a play I'd done off-Broadway... I mean, Hollywood, might as well audition, right? And I got Hawaii Five-O. So that's nine days in Hawaii with my wife — and it's Jack Lord. So yes, I'm in.”

everett collection

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment happened partly because Flap Horton was a very unlikeable role. A lot of managers and agents of actors were like, 'No, you're not playing that role. We need likable roles to brand you.' Well, I didn't care about that.”

everett collection

speed (1994)

Speed was, 'Get me a job.' [My agent] said, 'We've got this script Speed, we'll send it to you, but you're dead on page 22. You and Keanu go into this 50-story building and you get in the elevator shaft and fall and die....'

20th Century Fox

"...I said, 'The career's in trouble but it's not in that much trouble, so I'm going to pass.' And then they said, 'Hang on, there's a new draft coming, you die later.' I said, 'How much later?' He goes, 'About page 88.' 'I'm in.'”

everett collection

dumb and dumber (1994)

“There was hesitancy from agents about working with Jim because he's such a solo performer... I said, 'Yeah, but I got the toilet scene, I got the tongue on the pole scene... Unless they cut scenes Jim's not in, I'm going to score.'”

everett collection

the squid and the whale (2005)

"I wasn't doing the kind of projects I wanted to do... I had to compete if I wanted to stay in the business... I flew to NY, met with Noah and Laura Linney, and I went through the script with him.”

Melissa Moseley/HBO

the newsroom (2012-2014)

 "I was feeling less than challenged. I was not going to move to L.A. and do some show where you're the father who walks in and goes, 'What are you doing now?!' I had done God of Carnage with Gandolfini and I said, 'I'm thinking about going after television.'”

Dennis Mong/SHOWTIME 

american rust (2021)

 “When your agent calls and says, 'What do you want to do?' that's probably a good indicator you've made it. I went to Dan Futterman, he said, 'I love it, let me do it.' He wrote stuff I could do, have done, and many things I haven't done but that he knew I could.”

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Michael Becker / FOX