STATE OF PLAY
JEFF DANIELS (Senator George Fergus) found
his first popular success in film
with Terms of Endearment, as
he played the philandering
husband of Debra Winger's
character. In 2005, his performance
in The Squid and the
Whale earned him Independent
Spirit Award and Golden Globe
Award nominations, as well as
Newsweek's choice for Best
Actor. Daniels co-stars in the upcoming films Arlen
Faber, Away We Go and Paper Man.
Daniels made his feature film debut in Milos
Forman's Ragtime. Other film credits include Woody
Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo; Mike Nichols'
Heartburn; Jonathan Demme's Something Wild; Radio
Days; The House on Carroll Street; Marie; Checking
Out; Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael; The Butcher's
Wife; Grand Tour; Arachnophobia; Gettysburg; Speed;
Dumb & Dumber; Fly Away Home; 2 Days in the
Valley; 101 Dalmatians; Trial and Error;
Pleasantville; My Favorite Martian; All the Rage;
Chasing Sleep; Blood Work; The Hours; Gods and
Generals; I Witness; Imaginary Heroes; Because of
Winn-Dixie; RV; Good Night, and Good Luck.;
Infamous; The Lookout; and most recently, Traitor.
Daniels launched his acting career from the New
York stage. Raised in Michigan, he attended Central
Michigan University and majored in English with a
minor in theater. Impressed with the 21-year-old
actor, guest director Marshall W. Mason invited him
to join the acclaimed Circle Repertory Company in
New York. His stage credits from this period include
The Farm, Lanford Wilson's Brontosaurus and
Corinne Jacker's My Life, in which he co-starred
with Christopher Reeve and William Hurt. Other
New York roles include Three Sisters, The
Shortchanged Review, Lemon Sky (which earned
Daniels a Drama Desk nomination) and A. R.
Gurney, Jr.'s The Golden Age, which also starred
Stockard Channing and Irene Worth. In 1993,
Daniels worked with Marshall Mason on Broadway
in Lanford Wilson's Redwood Curtain. In 2007, he
returned to the off-Broadway stage in the critically
acclaimed American premiere of David Harrower's
Blackbird. He recently starred in the world premiere
of Turn of the Century, a musical directed by
Tommy Tune and written by Marshall Brickman and
Rick Elice, the writing team behind Jersey Boys. In
March 2009, Daniels returned to the Broadway stage
in Yasmina Reza's new play, God of Carnage. The
play is described as a comedy of manners without
Playing the role of Jed Jenkins in Lanford
Wilson's Fifth of July won Daniels widespread recognition
early in his career. In 1983, after three different
productions and filming the play for television,
Daniels returned to Circle Repertory Company and
starred in a one-man show that adapted Dalton
Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun,â an effort for which
he won an Obie Award.
Recently, Daniels starred in Hallmark Hall of Fame's
Sweet Nothing in My Ear, opposite Marlee Matlin. Other
television credits include An Invasion of Privacy, A
Rumor of War, Trying Times, The Caine Mutiny Court-
Martial, Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story, No
Place Like Home, Tanner '88, The Crossing, Cheaters
and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.
In 1991, Daniels established The Purple Rose
Theatre Company, a nonprofit professional theater in
the small town of Chelsea, Michigan. Since its establishment,
The Purple Rose has gained a national reputation
as a home for new American plays. Daniels has
written 12 plays for The Purple Rose, including
Apartment 3A, Boom Town and Guest Artist, the
American Theatre Critics Association's runner-up for
Best New Play in 2007.
In 1998, Daniels formed Purple Rose Films. The
company's first project, Escanaba in da Moonlight,
earned $2.3 million despite being self-distributed,
making it one of 2001's top-grossing independent
films in the country. In February 2002, Daniels'
second venture, Super Sucker, won the Audience
Award for Best Feature at the HBO-sponsored U.S.
Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado.
In 2003, Across the Way was a finalist and
Daniels' first nomination for the ATCA's Best New
Play. In fall 2006, The Purple Rose premiered
Escanaba in Love, the second play of Daniels'
Escanaba trilogy. Escanaba in da Moonlight sold
out in 1995 and 1997, setting the record as the
longest-running show in Detroit history. His latest
play with music, Panhandle Slim and the
Oklahoma Kid, premiered at The Purple Rose in
Daniels' songwriting has taken him all over the
country. Initially used as a way to raise money for The
Purple Rose, Daniels' live performances and guitar
playing can be found on his three CDs: "Live and
Unplugged to Benefit The Purple Rose Theatre,â
"Grandfather's Hatâ and "Together Again.â
Daniels was awarded an honorary doctorate from
his alma mater, Central Michigan University. In 1991,
he received both the Detroit News' Michiganian of
the Year Award and the prestigious Michigan Artist
Award from the Governor's Awards.
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