“It’s always great when the American theater has a voice, and Harper Lee and Aaron Sorkin have given the Broadway season a real important voice.”
– Jeff Daniels on the continued need to tell the story of To Kill a Mockingbird in today’s America
Jeff Daniels sat down with host Ashley Ford to discuss starring as Atticus Finch in Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he was recently nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor, the continued importance of Harper Lee’s story today, why he would not consider a reboot of HBO’s Newsroom, his iconic role as Harry in Dumb and Dumber, and more on PROFILE by BuzzFeed News.
Highlights and clips are below, and the full episode can be viewed on Facebook Watch on Sunday, May 5th at 8AM ET.
On his Tony nomination for Best Actor as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird [watch clip HERE]:
“When it does happen, like it did today, it’s to be appreciated. And you know, it’s a cliche, but it really is an honor to be nominated. Because I have not been nominated. And once you’ve not been nominated a few times, when you really wanted to get in, then once you are nominated, it never gets old. It really is true, because it’s not guaranteed. Nothing’s guaranteed in this business.”
On his competition in the Tony Best Actor category, including BRYAN CRANSTON and ADAM DRIVER [watch clip HERE]:
“You can’t fall into competing against someone. You just can’t, because this isn’t a sporting event, where whoever scores the most points wins. That’s not how this works. In the Best Actor category, you’ve got five really good actors doing great work in five different things….You felt like you were a part of a lot of great work that happened on Broadway this season, and you look around at all these people and you go, ‘you’re one of them…’ Anything after that is a bonus. It really is.”
On his iconic role in Dumb and Dumber and working with JIM CARREY [watch clip HERE]:
“It worked. It was a gamble, but it worked. I had a lot of people telling me ‘don’t do Dumb and Dumber, don’t do it, don’t do it.’ And I wanted to work with Jim [Carrey], so I did it.”
On the continued importance of Harper Lee’s story today [watch clip HERE]:
“I knew just from my own experience that systemic racism is alive and well in America. And [To Kill A] Mockingbird is a testament to that issue, and the fact that Harper Lee wrote a book in the early 60s, before Martin Luther King, before the Civil Rights Act, that she stepped out and wrote this book, and that is still timeless and relevant today because of the fact that racism is alive and well. I knew that at least the production of the play, and the play itself, would say something that probably needed to be said. It’s always great when the American theater has a voice, and Harper Lee and Aaron Sorkin have given the Broadway season a real important voice.”
On his working relationship with AARON SORKIN in To Kill a Mockingbird and Newsroom [watch clip HERE]:
“The secret to working with anyone like that is to respect what they do. And I come from the theater, I come from off-Broadway in the 70s and the 80s, and Broadway, and I have my own theater company in Michigan. The playwright is king or queen. You need to ask if you want to change a word. One word. We did three years of Newsroom and we never, I never changed a word….The guy’s won how many Emmys and an Oscar, and he’s one of our great writers – screenwriters and playwright, and you go tell me what I’m saying.”
On why he would not consider a reboot of HBO’s Newsroom [watch clip HERE]:
“One, I wouldn’t do it without Aaron [Sorkin], and two, we couldn’t keep up. How do you keep up? I mean, I’ve got to check Twitter, he’s [President Donald Trump] said three things today! It’s one where we’re easily six months behind today’s news. You’ve got to write it, got to shoot it, got to do it, cast it, got to put it together in post-production. We’re six months too old, and things are moving so fast now with Trump and the Mueller Report and all that stuff that we couldn’t keep up.”
On the grueling work of starring in a Broadway show [watch clip HERE]:
“I’m in Mockingbird until November. I want to do a year, a full eight shows a week, no vacation. Haven’t missed a show six months in. I had the flu twice – two weeks in February, two weeks in April. Yeah, I’m bragging. This isn’t wild. The line is, ‘what do you do when you have the flu on Broadway? Eight shows a week. That’s what you do.’”
ABOUT PROFILE by BuzzFeed News:
PROFILE by BuzzFeed News is a longform interview show featuring a different newsmaker each week. Hosted by writer, TV, and podcast host Ashley Ford, the show delivers in-depth conversations with the biggest names in entertainment, politics, business, music, sports, tech, including; Michelle Yeoh, Anthony Rapp, Serena Williams, Chris Christie, Regina King, Steve McQueen, Janelle Monáe, Anthony Scaramucci, Ken Jeong, Jonathan Van Ness, and Leah Remini. PROFILE by BuzzFeed News airs weekly on Facebook Watch.