There is no man in Hollywood that has had a career quite like Jeff Daniels. With over 45 years in the industry, he is a true one-of-a-kind talent. He continues to impress with new projects, and it’s clear that his passion for his craft is stronger than ever. We sat down to chat one brisk New York City morning about all things Jeff; work, family, and what could possibly come next.
I begin the interview with our official opening question: ‘How do you define a Nobleman?’ Daniels replies with thoughtful consideration, “There’s kind of an aristocratic element to it that I don’t really relate to,” he muses. “Today, maybe somebody who is hanging on to what’s right, what’s decent, what’s ethical, and what’s true? It’s definitely not easy to do.” This answer sums up the kind of man Daniels is: someone who believes strongly in doing what’s right and standing up for what you believe in. This determination and grounded outlook served Daniels well in his career, leading him to acclaimed film roles, Broadway performances, and iconic television series.
I ask Daniels how he made it to where he is today, with such an incredible career under his belt. “I just celebrated my forty-fifth anniversary of driving through the Holland Tunnel with everything I owned,” he reminisces, “On September 1st, 1976 at two p.m. Every year I clock it like a birthday.”
“I had a lot of raw talent and not a lot of technique and craft,” says Daniels, “And that’s what you end up having to learn so that you can then take whatever raw talent you have and funnel it. That takes decades, I’ve found,” he contemplates. “That culminates with now, 45 years later, realizing as I do things like Atticus on Broadway and American Rust, that I’ve finally figured out how to do what it is I do.”
I’m unable to hold back a sneaky, “would you ever come back for a Dumb and Dumber 3?” And Daniels’ answer does not disappoint. “If Jim wanted to do Dumb and Dumber 3, I’d be there tomorrow, Monday. Absolutely, I would.”
Most recently, Daniels was performing live on Broadway as Atticus Finch in the newest adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. He also recently starred as police chief Del Harris in the Showtime series American Rust.
Read the full article in the winter issue. On newsstands 1/31
Words by Emma Ungaro