Cheers to life.
Ask me anything
- Blue Swede | Hooked on a Feeling
- Raspberries | Go All The Way
- Norman Greenbaum | Spirit in the Sky
- David Bowie | Moonage Daydream
- Elvin Bishop | Fooled Around and Fell in Love
- 10CC | I’m Not in Love
- Jackson 5 | I Want You Back
- Redbone | Come and Get Your Love
- The Runaways | Cherry Bomb
- Rupert Holmes | Escape (The Piña Colada Song)
- The Five Stairsteps | O-O-H Child
- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell | Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
"I was aiming for the fucking light tree."
But I love it. I love ACN. You don’t make me a nickel and you cause headaches for the divisions that do, but you make me… You make me so proud. God, guy comes in here, cooks an interview, and this ends up with ‘Cause he’s unemployable he gets a $5 million settlement and the three of you leave? Oh, I don’t think so.
Mackenzie & Will in I’ll Try To Fix You
the newsroom + text posts (1/?)
“ We certainly wrap it up. We all went into this, Aaron Sorkin in particular, and said, ‘Let’s make this season the best season.’ There was no let-up. There was no cruising based on what you’ve done before. Everybody showed up. Aaron certainly wrote a season as strong as the other two, if not stronger. That’s how the actors approached it, as well. I like our chances for it being a real good final season. It certainly felt like it. ”
In 2012, Jeff Daniels took on his first ever starring television role in HBO’s The Newsroom. His performance as anchor Will McAvoy on the Aaron Sorkin series not only earned him his first Emmy nomination, but his first win as best dramatic actor. This year, Daniels was rewarded with his second nomination.
The 59-year old actor spoke to SSN about Newsroom’ssecond season, wrapping its final one, and taking a break to shoot Dumb and Dumber To with Jim Carrey.
SSN: Was the excitement you felt for your second nomination different from the first?
Daniels: It’s certainly different. It’s a wonderful affirmation that what happened with the first one wasn’t a mistake (laughs). I’m still getting over what happened with the first one, to be honest. It was a thrill I did not see coming.
SSN: Did it make a difference for your career?
Daniels: Winning an Emmy is far better professionally than not winning one. It’s validation from your peers in a business that is so competitive; you can be over on Tuesday and no one told you.
SSN: What were the differences for you between the first two seasons of The Newsroom?
Daniels: Once you get picked up for the second season, that’s the end of the audition. That means, ‘we were glad we picked you, we hoped it worked, it did work, you’re coming back.’ There was a sense of a relaxation that came over the cast.
SSN: In what way?
Daniels: You have an idea of what you’re doing instead of throwing your best guess at it. There’s a falling into the characters that happens in the second season; we’re more comfortable with them. It’s not a struggle to get into them anymore.
SSN: You just wrapped the third and final season of The Newsroom. While the show’s not over for viewers, it’s over for you. Do you feel that it’s the end, or is it still lingering?
Daniels: It’s not like it stops abruptly; it’s this slow train that comes to a halt. But I got to the end of it and my first thoughts were ‘job well done,’ in the past tense. There’s this sense of relief because the pressure comes off.
SSN: What kind of pressure?
Daniels: Anybody who carries a movie or play or TV series knows every day is about that show [and the] scenes you have to memorize. With all the work that goes into it, there’s a lot of air in the tire you finally get to let out. That’s what it feels like.
SSN: Do you have enough distance to look back and assess the work you did?
Daniels: I can’t say this about everything, but I look back on The Newsroom thinking everything I had, I threw at it. There wasn’t an episode or scene I took off. There wasn’t a day I didn’t do it the way you’re supposed to do it, from the Northwestern speech on. I could walk away going, ‘that’s the best I got.’
SSN: Do you have a favorite moment from season two?
Daniels: The stuff with Will’s father. My dad passed away on September first two years ago, and three months later we were shooting season two. Episode five came, we all read it [and found out] Will’s dad dies while he’s on the air.
SSN: How did you relate to that?
Daniels: Will’s relationship with his father was completely different from mine, but good writers like Aaron Sorkin get to know their actors, observe their actors, and tailor roles to their actors. Aaron found a way to get that in there.
SSN: What do you learn from starring as the lead on an Aaron Sorkin show?
Daniels: You learn how to turn the light switch off. That took a while. The memorization that’s required, [mentally] you’ve got to keep it taut for months at a time. Coming back to Michigan [between seasons] I needed a month before I could relate to other people. My brain was so tired that people would ask me a question and it would be like a two second delay.
SSN: Besides winning an Emmy, what did working on the show give you that no other project has?
Daniels: I’ve been standing next to a lot of big name people in my career; I’ve had successes. But I’ve always been next to somebody else. So for someone like Aaron and HBO [to say], ‘we think we can put this whole thing on your back,’ well, the faith and trust they threw onto me, I told them that my sole goal was to return that faith and trust every day.
SSN: When they wanted you to carry it, how did you feel? Was there an element of ‘it’s about time,’ or more, ‘are you sure you want me to do this?’
Daniels: The reaction was ‘I want this, it’s about fuckin’ time, but now I have to deliver.’ Actors wait their whole careers for a Will McAvoy and a writer like Aaron Sorkin feeding it every episode. There’s a responsibility that comes with that.
SSN: You shot Dumb and Dumber To right after you won the Emmy last fall. It must have been nice to leave Will McAvoy behind and live in the brain of Harry Dunne after 20 years.
Daniels: It was an intellectual freefall. Then I had to bounce back from Harry back up to Will. I don’t know how many times I would be in a ditch with Jim Carey on top of me with my butt crack hanging out. I would look up at Jim and go, ‘you know, I won an Emmy.’ (laughs)
SSN: Whose brain would it be better to live in, Will or Harry’s?
Daniels: Obviously Harry. Harry has an outlook on life that is uncomplicated, shall we say. He just bounces from one thing to another and has no thoughts about any of it whatsoever. Whereas Will needs a team of Vienna shrinks. It’s a lot noisier in there, I know that.