Jeff Daniels on ‘Godless’, Not Doing Research and Mixing Things Up in His Career

Actor Jeff Daniels

“Frank doesn’t know he’s in a Western, so I just tried to figure out what Frank was thinking and when he was thinking it” – Jeff Daniels on ‘Godless’

Jeff Daniels stars in the Netflix Western Godless, and — surprisingly — it is the first Western project for the otherwise very versatile actor who has done everything from historical epics (Gettysburg) to dumb comedy (Dumb and Dumber). Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels explains why he decided to do both a Western and another TV series, and why he is always looking for new challenges.

Daniels was last on TV in The Newsroom, and he admits that he enjoyed the long-form storytelling seen with a television series. He explains, “Coming off Newsroom, I really fell in love with the feeling that we were shooting, like in Newsroom’s case, a nine-hour movie. A beginning, a middle and an end. Acting, you get to do more: more colors, more details. That’s how you approach it when you have a story that unfolds over one season or over 10 episodes.”

Another reason the series appealed to Daniels is that the character of Frank Griffin is unlike any he has played before. He says, “That was the other attraction. That I hadn’t done anything like this. To go from McAvoy on Newsroom, as far as the public’s awareness, to this is the kind of leap that I’ve done throughout my career. From Dumb and Dumber to Gettysburg. Mix it up. I just love the idea of creating as wide of a range as possible.”

When asked if he watched many Westerns to prepare himself for the role, Daniels confesses that he didn’t — and points out that his character doesn’t know much about Westerns, either. He says, “You certainly remember seeing Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. But, I didn’t research. Frank doesn’t know he’s in a Western, so I just tried to figure out what Frank was thinking and when he was thinking it, and not even the why he was thinking it sometimes. It’s all just actor babble, but as simple as you can make it is what I do. Let the story and what happens take you there.”

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