Thursday, 24 February 2011

Jeff Daniels, underrated Hollywood star

I'm not entirely sure how you would characterise actor Jeff Daniels' early film career: he was the putz in Something Wild (1986), director Jonathan Demme's shoo-in for Griffin Dunne in After Hours, Martin Scorsese's yuppy horror flick from the previous year. Daniels played to type again in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (1990), alongside Winona Ryder, but was good enough to be picked up by Woody Allen for Radio Days (1987).

McCarthy-based thriller The House on Carroll Street (1989), with Kelly McGillis, gave way to a taste for the whimsical, in Arachnophobia (1990). His best-known work came in 1994: as Keanu Reeves's police colleague in Speed and as Jim Carrey's sidekick in Dumb & Dumber. He was the likeable everyman, once more, in Pleasantville (1998), and the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians (1996), but a sense of more thoughtful depth came with Michael Cunningham adaptation The Hours (2002), as a gay friend of the leads.

Perhaps Daniels' best work comes with a beard: he bore formidable face-wear once more as the ineffectual father in Noah Baumbach's autobiographical The Squid and the Whale (2005). (There's a great quote of his on IMDb about shooting the film's sex scenes with Anna Paquin, who played his daughter in goose-laden family drama Fly Away Home nine years before: 'We tried not to think about... you know, geese.') He averages at least a couple of features a year, including Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) - his latest, Howl, opens tomorrow. Let's hope he's sporting the beard.

No comments:

Post a Comment