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Jeffrey Warren Daniels was born on February 19, 1955 in Clarke County, Georgia. He is a three-time Tony Award nominee, four-time Golden Globe nominee, and Emmy Award winner, best known for his roles in such Hollywood movies as Dumb and Dumber, The Martian, Steve Jobs, and The Squid and the Whale.
Mr. Daniels was raised in Chelsea, Michigan, attending Central Michigan University, where he participated in the theatre program. During the summer of 1976, he attended the Eastern Michigan University drama school and participated in a special bicentennial repertory program of four plays in repertory, including Landford Wilson's The Hot I Baltimore. He was then invited by EMU's guest director, Marshall W. Mason, to move to New York City and join the Circle Repertory Theatre, which would become the beginning of an established stage career. From 1976 to 1982, his Off-Broadway credits with the company comprised The Farm, My Life, Lulu, Two from the Late Show, Fifth of July, and Johnny Got His Gun, which won him an Obie Award and earned him a Drama Desk Award nomination in 1983. He also served as an understudy and assistant stage manager for Circle Repertory Theatre's 1977 Broadway premiere of Gemini and appeared in Second Stage Theater's inaugural production of The Shortchanged Review in 1979. He would also reprise his performance as Jed Jenkins in the 1980 Broadway production of Fifth of July, which led to his first Drama Desk nomination.
He first worked for Manhattan Theatre Club in the 1982 revival of Chekhov's Three Sisters, taking on the role of Andrei Sergeevich Prozorov, and would return to Broadway in the short-lived 1984 premiere of A.R. Gurney's The Golden Age. He once again worked for Second Stage Theater in 1985, starring in Lanford Wilson's Lemon Sky and earning another Drama Desk Award nomination. He would then star in another of Wilson's plays, Redwood Curtain, in the spring of 1993. After a 14-year absence, he returned to the New York stage in Manhattan Theatre Club's 2007 production of Blackbird, with his performance earning him a Lucille Lortel Award nomination. He returned to Broadway in the 2009 premiere of God of Carnage, earning his first Tony Award nomination for his performance as Alan, and he would return to the production in March 2010, assuming the role of Michael and remaining with the production until the end of its Broadway run. He was last seen on Broadway reprising his performance from the 2007 off-Broadway production of Blackbird, starring opposite Michelle Williams. The Broadway production ran at the Belasco Theatre from February to June 2016.
Mr Daniels has also enjoyed an exceptional career on screen. Following his big screen debut as P.C. O'Donnell in 1981's Ragtime, his breakthrough came after being cast as Flap Horton in Terms of Endearment in 1983, and as Tom Baxter / Gil Shepherd in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo in 1985, which led to his first Golden Globe nomination. He would go on to found the Purple Rose Theatre Company, a nonprofit stage company in his hometown of Chelsea, inspired by that film's name, and has written more than a dozen plays for the company. Other notable screen credits in the '80s and '90s include Something Wild (1986), in which he delivered a Golden Globe-nominated performance, Arachnophobia (1990), Gettysburg (1993), Speed (1994), Disney's 101 Dalmatians (1996), Fly Away Home (1996), and Pleasantville (1998). He increased his fame after his comic performance as Harry Dunne, opposite Jim Carrey, in Dumb and Dumber, which was released in 1994. He would later reprise the role in the film's sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, in 2014.
Since the turn of the century, his most notable film credits have included The Hours (2002), "The Squid and the Whale" (2005), for which he received his third Golden Globe nomination for his performance as Bernard Berkman, Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Infamous (2006), The Lookout (2007), Looper (2012), Steve Jobs (2015), and The Martian (2015). Arguably his grandest achievement on the small screen was his performance as Will McAvoy in the HBO drama series The Newsroom from 2012 to 2014. He starred in 25 episodes and won his first Emmy Award in 2013, followed by Emmy nominations in 2014 and 2015 for his performance. More recently, he earned 2018 Emmy Award nominations for his performances as the villainous Frank Griffin in Netflix's Godless and as leading man John O'Neill in Hulu's The Looming Tower.
Mr. Daniels returned to Broadway to take on the iconic role of Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin's new stage adaptation of the classic Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which began performances at the Shubert Theatre on November 1, 2018. He earned a third Tony Award nomination for his performance and remained with the production for an entire year, concluding his run on November 3, 2019. Daniels returns to To Kill a Mockingbird from October 5, 2021.