Movie-First Actors Whose Best Roles Are On TV
Although his presence in movies has subsided in recent years, Jeff Daniels is a consistent standout in all his projects — from distinguished dramas “Pleasantville” and “Steve Jobs,” to, ah, less distinguished fair in “Dumb and Dumber” and “Dumb and Dumber To.”
Over his four-decade career, Daniels has proven he can handle roles in any genre, first emerging on the big screen in Miloš Forman’s 1981 period drama “Ragtime” in a minor part as a police officer. Two years later, Daniels career took flight following the release of James L. Brooks’ beloved Academy Award-winning hit family dramedy, “Terms of Endearment,” in which he played financially unsavvy Flap, a young, impulsive college professor who marries the vivacious Emma (Debra Winger).
As Flap, Daniels embraced his strong ability as a performer to embrace the inherent messiness of his characters’ lives. He perfected this approach in his most impressive movie performance in Noah Baumbach’s 2005 dark comedy “The Squid and the Whale” as a pretentious, jealous English professor who is in denial about his family falling apart. These roles prepared Daniels to deliver the performance of his career in Aaron Sorkin’s love-it-or-hate-it HBO drama series “The Newsroom.” There, Daniels starred as infamously difficult television anchor Will McAvoy, delivering Sorkin’s monologues with a hair-raising intensity that is part Shakespearean performer, part carnival barker. Daniels plays blistering, provocative McAvoy with the perfect amount of sympathy to render him human, earning three Emmy nominations and one win for his bravado work.