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Jeff Daniels Was Supposed to Take Over the Family Lumber Business


Jeff Daniels in 2018 as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway ( Julieta Cervantes / O & M Co. )

By 1976, college student Jeff Daniels was pretty sure he didn’t want to follow his father into the Michigan lumber trade.  But he wasn’t sure he could make it as a working actor — until one of the founders of Manhattan’s legendary Circle Repertory Company spotted him at Eastern Michigan University.  It was a short hop from Circle Rep to his screen breakthrough in Terms of Endearment, but Daniels’ commitment to the stage has never waned.  That commitment bore a Tony nomination this year (Daniels’ third) for his magnificent performance in Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird adaptation on Broadway.  Daniels and Alec discuss the craft required to play Atticus Finch, the very different craft required to play alongside Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber, and Daniels’ unusual decision to move back to his Michigan hometown with his wife and child while building a Hollywood career.

Listen to more at the episode archive.