When it came to Jeff Daniels’ win for best drama actor in HBO’s “Newsroom,” shocked would be an understatement — for both journos backstage, and the thesp himself, who began his acceptance speech with, “Well, crap.”
After accepting the award, Daniels headed to the press room to expound on his reaction. Daniels, who plays Will McAvoy on the Aaron Sorkin-created drama, was largely not favored to win, with “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston and “House of Cards’” Kevin Spacey considered frontrunners for the trophy.
“I’ve been neutral about this whole thing. I’ve been nominated a bunch of times — Google it — enough to not lean towards it, or hope too much,” Daniels said. “There were six of us nominated, and there easily could have been 10 other guys where we were. It’s a really crowded time to be in television, and a great time to be in television. I felt the work [on ‘Newsroom’] stood up to what the other guys were doing, but we’re all doing different things. It’s anybody’s win. I was happy to win, but surprised because it could have been anyone.”
Questions arose about the future of “The Newsroom,” which Daniels had tweeted earlier in September would return for a third run, only to have HBO not officially announce the renewal. Daniels explained the background on the tweet.
“I was about to do ‘Leno,’” he said, “and I called HBO and I said, ‘What do I say if this comes up?’ And they said, ‘Absolutely say you’re coming back, you just don’t know when.’ So that’s what I tweeted.”
Sorkin emphasized that the show is indeed returning to HBO for a third season, but “we just don’t know when yet. They’re trying to work it out with Aaron, and when HBO is going to air it.”
The win for Daniels certainly rewards months upon months of challenging Sorkin dialogue, which the thesp said he would spend entire weekends memorizing.
“Every one or two weeks, we get 80 pages of Sorkin,” Daniels remarked. “The trick is, at six in the morning every day, know it, and know what you’re going to do with it. This is no film acting thing, and I’ve done it, where you’re memorizing as you’re walking to set. You can’t do that with Aaron, you won’t survive.”
As for Daniels’ upcoming work?
“Tomorrow I’m going to get on a plane and start shooting ‘Dumb and Dumber Too,’” Daniels said, the room erupting with laughter. “The intellectual free fall from Will McAvoy…”