Watching Jeff Daniels as To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch, or Blackbird’s Ray, or The Newsroom’s Will McAvoy, you might forget Daniels' impeccable comedy skills.
But the man with all the serious parts is also the man from Dumb and Dumber, who happened to get his start by making his classmates laugh. “I was in the sixth grade and the choir teacher was bored... she said, ‘We’re gonna do skits’ later to be known as improv but we didn’t know,” he explains in the video above. “With me she said, ‘You are a politician who is giving a speech while his pants are falling down,’” and Daniels fully re-enacted his performance as an 11-year-old, which he describes as “Jim Carrey-esque.” (Watch him in the video above.)
Which only reiterates the actor’s range, as he plays eight shows a week in the Sorkin drama. “We have a saying at Mockingbird that you watch the movie, you read the book, but you feel the play,” he says. “Night after night, show after show, we can hear them feel it. We can hear them gasp, laugh, but also the silences.
“That doesn’t happen all the time. A lot of time you get audiences who just observe and watch,” he continues. “That’s a big surprise. I knew it was powerful, but I didn’t know it would be that visceral.”
Videography and editing by Roberto Araujo.