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‘A Man in Full’ star Jeff Daniels says Jim Carrey stopped him from quitting showbiz

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Jeff Daniels is currently starring in one of Netflix’s hottest shows, “A Man in Full,” but he nearly missed the chance.

Ten years ago, the actor almost gave up his career in Hollywood. He credits his friend and costar, Jim Carrey, for helping him stick it out.

In an interview with IndieWire, Daniels explained that after the duo finished filming the “Dumb and Dumber” sequel “Dumb and Dumber To” in 2014, he had a moment when he told Carrey, “I’m done.”


Actors Jim Carrey, left, and Jeff Daniels arrive at the world premiere of “Dumb And Dumber To” at the Regency Village Theater on Nov. 3, 2014 in Westwood, California. (Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

He remembered Carrey telling him, “You can’t, you’re creative, you’re going to create something, you’ve got to keep creating. That’s what we do!”

Daniels took the advice to heart. He appeared in movies like “Allegiant” and “The Martian” after finishing the comedy film with Carrey, and now he is getting a lot of attention for his turn as real estate mogul Charlie Croker in “A Man in Full.”

“I’m swinging for the fences,” he told People of the “thrill” of playing the character. “That’s where the fun is for me at this point, and that’s where the challenge is. Can I pull this off? Can he stay believable? Do you care about him enough to hang with him for the entire series? That was the challenge, and apparently I pulled it off.”

The 69-year-old actor confessed that he felt like he could “relax finally” about his acting career.

A photo of Jeff Daniels

Jeff Daniels attends a conversation at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on May 1, 2024 in New York City. (Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

“I don’t feel like I’m risking my career, because I’ve got this catalog of performances behind me,” he said. “I’ve kind of done it. I think, ‘Well, who wants me next?’ But if nobody does, well that’s okay, too.”


A big part of this revelation came to him five years ago. Daniels played the role of Atticus Finch in a Broadway production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” from November 2018 to November 2019, something he remembers as a high point in his career.

He told People magazine, “That quest to be the biggest star in the history of stars… That’s gone, and that kind of ended for me at the end of the one-year run of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’ After Atticus Finch, I can’t top that experience.”

A photo of Jeff Daniels with the cast of "To Kill a Mockingbird"

The cast of “To Kill A Mocking Bird” takes a bow after the opening night performance of “To Kill A Mocking Bird” at the Shubert Theatre on Dec. 13, 2018 in New York City. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for “To Kill A Mockingbird”)

Two years later, he had another milestone moment just before he accepted his role on the TV series “American Rust.”

During a phone call with his agent, he was asked, “‘What do you want to do?’”

“It had taken 44 years for me to hear that, but that’s when I knew I’d made it,” he confessed.

Still, despite having made it in Hollywood, the star says that it’s music, not acting, that “keeps [him] going.”

“It keeps me alive,” he told IndieWire. “It’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s helped me between the phone calls for the acting jobs. Because you can go insane staring at that phone. They’ll call you when they need you. And so I’ve always battled whatever depression or fear might come of never working again by working on other things that don’t require Hollywood to need me.”

A photo of Jeff Daniels playing guitar

Jeff Daniels performs an acoustic guitar set at club Birdland on Nov. 13, 2006 in New York City. (Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

During an appearance this month on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” he revealed that he had written around 450 original songs, many that he planned to keep private.


“I thought the career would end,” he explained of making movies, “especially 20 years ago. So I was ready to go out and play clubs, that was my backup plan. Fail as an actor, then fail as a singer/songwriter.”

He occasionally performs at the Purple Rose Theatre Company, a theater he founded in 1991 in his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan. While he did leave the state in search of fame, he returned in 1986 with his family after cementing himself as a star with movies like “Terms of Endearment” and “The Purple Rose of Cairo.”

“Kathleen’s permanent,” he told People in 2019 of his wife. “The family’s permanent. Careers are job to job, you’re hot, you’re not.”

A photo of Jeff Daniels with family

Jeff Daniels arrives with his wife, Kathleen, and children Ben, Lucas and Nellie for the premiere of the movie “101 Dalmatians Sing Along” at Radio City Music Hall in 1996. (Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

On the topic of fame, he said, “I never bought it. I knew how fleeting it was, and I didn’t trust it for a second, so I moved to Michigan.”


One thing that led to this mistrust happened after he filmed “Terms of Endearment.” As he explained on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” this month, the fame was “intoxicating,” especially at the time – he says that during that period, fame was an actor’s “currency.”

A photo of Jeff Daniels and Debra Winger in "Terms of Endearment"

Jeff Daniels lies next to Debra Winger in a scene from the film “Terms Of Endearment,” 1983. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

“I’m 28,” Daniels explained about making the classic film. “I’ve been at it for about seven years, off-Broadway, I get this huge break. I’m there with Jack [Nicholson] and Shirley [MacLaine] and Debra [Winger] and John Lithgow … [director] James Brooks.”


He continued, “The Oscars come. Not nominated. Everybody else in the thing is nominated. Everybody else. As a friend of mine said, ‘Even the guy who combed your hair got nominated.’ But it was great because [at 28] it would have been a lot. And I remember watching it in New York in our little apartment … it was OK. So I’d get back to work and earn it. Go change that. I still haven’t been nominated, but that’s OK.”

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