Actor Warren “Jeff” Daniels was born on February 19, 1955 in Athens, Georgia, United States. He was raised in Chelsea, Michigan. Jeff attended Central Michigan University, but got involved in acting and dropped out to pursue a career as an actor.
He has performed in many stage productions, both on and off Broadway. He has many stage credits to his name. He has been nominated for the Tony Award as Best Actor for the Broadway play God of Carnage (2009), along with his other three castmates.
Jeff made his feature film debut in Miloš Forman’s Ragtime in 1981. His next film, the Oscar-winning Terms of Endearment in which he played Debra Winger’s husband was his breakthrough. He went on to prove himself to be one of Hollywood’s most reliable and versatile actors.
He has almost 60 films to his credit. He had successful roles in: Terms of Endearment (1983), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Something Wild (1986), Arachnophobia (1990), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Pleasantville (1998), The Hours (2002) and Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), to name a few.
His most recent film is Quad (2014).
Jeff has received four Golden Globe Award nominations. He won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Comedy/Musical for Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985).
In 1991, Jeff Daniels founded The Purple Rose Theatre Company (PRTC), in Chelsea, Michigan. It was originally known as the Garage Theatre. The Purple Rose derives its name from Woody Allen’s 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo starring Jeff Daniels. It is a nonprofit entity.
PRTC provides resources for training actors, playwrights and other theatre artists residing in the Midwest region. It develops new plays based on the life in the Great Lakes Basin, USA.
St. Mary’s School, in Chelsea, Michigan closed completely in 1972. Until 1998, the parish used the school building for educational and social purposes. At that time, Jeff Daniels purchased the building from the parish and donated it to the Chelsea Center for the Development of the Arts. As of 2013, it is the home of the Chelsea Center for the Arts, with the Great Hall used as rehearsal space for PRTC.
Jeff is also a musician and songwriter. He has focused on recording many songs he has written that marked key moments throughout his life. He has recorded five full-length albums of songs: Jeff Daniels Live and Unplugged, Jeff Daniels Live at The Purple Rose Theater, Grandfather’s Hat, Keep It Right Here, and Together Again. The proceeds from the sale of these albums benefit The Purple Rose Theater.
Currently, Jeff Daniels stars as Will McAvoy in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO television series The Newsroom, for which he won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2013.
The Newsroom, started in 2012, is an American drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin. It is airing on HBO. The series chronicles the behind-the-scenes events at the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN) channel.
“We Just Decided To” is the first episode of the first season of The Newsroom written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Greg Mottola. It was first aired on June 24, 2012 in the United States on HBO.
The series opens with news anchor Will McAvoy participating in a debate. Will shocks all those present with his controversial speech on America’s recent declination.
Transcript of The Newsroom
“What Makes America The Greatest Country In The World”
Hi, my name is Jenny, I’m a sophomore and this for all three of you. Can you say in one sentence or less – what – (laughing in background) you know what I mean: “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”
[Emily Kathleen A. Mortimer As Sharon]
Diversity and opportunity.
Ah freedom and freedom, let’s keep it that way.
[Jeffrey Warren “Jeff” Daniels As Will McAvoy]
The New York Jets.
[laughter from the audience]
No, I’m gonna hold you to an answer on that. What makes America the greatest country in the world?
Well, Lewis and Sharon said it. Diversity and opportunity and freedom and freedom.
(A member in the audience holds notebook)
IT’S NOT. BUT IT CAN BE.
I’m not letting you go back to the airport without answering the question.
Well, our Constitution is a masterpiece. James Madison was a genius. The Declaration of Independence is for me the single greatest piece of American writing. [Pause] You don’t look satisfied.
One’s a set of laws and the other is a declaration of war. I want a human moment from you.
(The member in the audience again holds notebook)
What about the people? Why is it
It’s NOT the greatest country in the world, Professor. That’s my answer.
Let’s talk about. Fine. Sharon, the NEA is a loser.
[Will McAvoy speaking to Sharon]
Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money. It costs votes. It costs airtime. And column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart then how come they lose so goddamn always?
[Will McAvoy to Lewis]
And with a straight face, you’re gonna sit there and tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The U.K. France. Italy. Germany. Spain. Australia. BELGIUM has freedom. (laughs) Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, like, a hundred and eighty of them have freedom.
And you, Sorority Girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there’s some things you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world.
We’re seventh in literacy. Twenty-seventh in math. Twenty-second in science. Forty-ninth in life expectancy. A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality. Third in median household income. Number four in labor force and number four in exports.
We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.
Now, none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the fuck you’re talkin’ about. Yosemite?
Sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were. And we never beat our chest.
We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars. Acted like men.
We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior.
We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t, oh, we didn’t scare so easy. [pause] Huh! We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men. Men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. [pause] Enough?