Jeff Daniels feared he had thrown away his shot at act­ing star­dom but now he has well and truly made it, with ac­claimed ap­pear­ances in two of the stand­out movies in this year’s awards sea­son

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - FIONA PUR­DON Steve Jobs opens to­day


Jeff Daniels is at the top of his game. The 60year-old ac­tor rubs shoul­ders with heavy­weights in two of the buzz movies of this year’s awards sea­son – as NASA di­rec­tor Teddy San­ders in the Matt Da­mon film, The

Mar­tian, and as con­tro­ver­sial for­mer Ap­ple di­rec­tor John Scul­ley in the highly an­tic­i­pated Steve Jobs.

In the biopic about the Ap­ple co-founder, Daniels ap­pears in sev­eral un­for­get­table scenes op­po­site Michael Fass­ben­der as Jobs.

His re­cent suc­cesses in­clude an­chor­ing the 20122014 tele­vi­sion show The

News­room, for which he won an Emmy Award. And now he’s pre­par­ing for a stint on Broad­way in the tough drama

Black­bird, play­ing op­po­site Michelle Wil­liams.

But the ac­tor, who won his first Golden Globe nod for Woody Allen’s The Pur­ple

Rose of Cairo in 1985, ad­mits that when he moved from New York in 1986 to the act­ing back­blocks – his home­town of Chelsea in sub­ur­ban Michi­gan – to bring up his fam­ily, he wor­ried he was em­bark­ing on ca­reer sui­cide.

As it turned out, it was merely a more scenic route to his hoped-for desti­na­tion – long-term act­ing suc­cess.

“I wish I could go back and tell my­self from 20 years ago: ‘You will have a lot of fail­ure but, don’t worry, there will be a lot of suc­cess’. I’m 60 years old. I’m a late bloomer,’’ says the son of a tim­ber­yard owner.

Even though Daniels moved back to Michi­gan af­ter only a hand­ful of movies, he wanted to stay in the busi­ness.

“I just took the long, scenic route for my ca­reer. I was hop­ing for longevity. I thought my best shot would be to be seen as some­one like Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Ste­wart, Peter Sellers, Alan Arkin or Gene Hack­man – guys whose ca­reers have lasted decades.

“That was the plan — and then The News­room came around and I was in my late 50s.’’

Daniels says play­ing three sea­sons of con­ceited an­chor­man Will McAvoy in the Aaron Sorkin-scripted The

News­room en­sured he was match-fit to take on the in­tensely bril­liant but di­a­logue-heavy Steve Jobs, which last month won Sorkin a Golden Globe for best screen­play.

He was im­pressed by the com­mit­ment of his fel­low ac­tors, es­pe­cially Fass­ben­der and Kate Winslet, whose sparkling per­for­mance as Joanna Hoff­man, Jobs’ con­fi­dant and mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive for Ap­ple and NeXT, won her a best sup­port­ing ac­tress Golden Globe last month. Fass­ben­der and Winslet have Os­cars act­ing nom­i­na­tions for the film.

Daniels ad­vised Fass­ben­der and Winslet to learn their lines early and be fully pre­pared for the com­plex­ity of a Sorkin script, which, says Daniels, has its own rhythm.

“You usu­ally get a script and you work out each line. With The News­room, we didn’t change a word in three years. You just need to go away and mem­o­rise your lines and get up to speed quickly,’’ he says.

“Michael and Kate jumped on it early and they got (the script) mem­o­rised fast be­cause you can’t be mem­o­ris­ing your 12 pages of di­a­logue the night be­fore.”

Daniels says Sorkin takes a the­atri­cal, even a clas­si­cal, ap­proach to the life of the Ap­ple co-founder.

Steve Jobs is not a straight­for­ward bi­og­ra­phy. In­stead, Sorkin and di­rec­tor Danny Boyle show Jobs be­hind the scenes dur­ing three key prod­uct launches: the Mac­in­tosh in 1984, the NeXT com­puter in 1988, and the iMac in 1998.

The film ex­am­ines the drama and con­flicts for Jobs at work and in pri­vate, in­clud­ing his roller­coaster re­la­tion­ship with daugh­ter Lisa Bren­nanJobs, his spite­ful treat­ment of Lisa’s mother, Chrisann Bren­nan, and his splits with Ap­ple co-founder Steve Woz­niak (Seth Ro­gen) and Scul­ley (Daniels).

Scul­ley sacked Jobs af­ter the early Mac­in­tosh fail­ure.

“John made a busi­ness de­ci­sion, which, in hind­sight, was the wrong one. Steve never for­gave this be­trayal, and John never re­cov­ered from it,” Daniels says.

“They never rec­on­ciled ... The re­gret and pain is still there.”

Michael Fass­ben­der and Jeff Daniels in a scene from the movie Steve Jobs, from Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures.

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