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Local News / Concert Preview

Wednesday, 6 August, 2014 0:58 AM

Jeff Daniels discusses The Ark, finishing up 'The Newsroom' and returning for 'Dumb and Dumber To'

Photo credit: Think Press

Jeff Daniels and The Ben Daniels Band will perform two shows on Aug. 17 and 18 at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Mich.


by Jason Rzucidlo



ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan native Jeff Daniels is getting ready to perform two shows – one of them already sold out – at The Ark in Ann Arbor. The actor/producer/comedian just finished filming the final season of “The Newsroom” and his return to “Dumb and Dumber To” 20 years after the first film was a box office hit. In addition, Daniels said the Purple Rose Theatre, which he owns and operates in Chelsea, Mich., is going strong.

“If they don’t have a great night, we failed,” Daniels said in an exclusive interview. “We start with making sure that from the moment we walk out it’s entertaining and that they can relate to it. They’re going to get humor, but they’re also going to get music. A lot of the stuff we’re going to do on the tour are songs that need a band. That’s why getting the Ben Daniels Band is just thrilling for me. Usually I’m out there with an acoustic guitar with Brad Phillips on mandolin.”

For those who don’t already know, Ben is Jeff’s son.

“Yeah, to be on stage with your kid, who’s in their 20’s, playing music together as a father-son thing, is huge. It won’t be a killer during the show. We’re going to speak to that. The thrill has been blowing some of these songs up. When you take a play into a screenplay, they call it ‘You’ve got to blow it up.’ Now you can write going to various locations and expand it. I think that’s what’s going to happen with the band. It’s already happening. At the same time, keeping an eye on the audience giving them what they need song in and song out.”

Will Ben be opening up for will everybody be taking the stage at the same time?

“I didn’t want to do that, that was the initial thing,” the Michigan native added. “Oh, they’ll open and then I’ll come on. We’re going to mix. There will be some time where I’m just there alone. No, we’re all going to walk on together from the first song on, we’re playing together. It will be tight, rehearsed up. At the end of the night, every one of those guys will be featured. It will be a complete evening that includes them from beginning to end.”

Excellent. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun!

“Oh, it is. You know, I’m too old not to have a good time, Jason. I make sure that when I walk out with a guitar, I’m there to have a good time.”

Daniels wraps up shooting final season of “The Newsroom”

Once again, Daniels received the Emmy nomination for the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category. He said filming for third and final season of “The Newsroom” completed on July 20. The HBO drama is set to air sometime this Fall.

“We certainly wrap it up," he explained. "We all went into this, Aaron Sorkin in particular and said, ‘Let’s make the third season the best season.’ There was no let up. There was no kind of cruising based on what you’ve done before. Everybody showed up. Aaron certainly wrote the strongest season that he has as strong as the other two, if not stronger. That’s how the actors approached it as well. I like our chances for it being a real good final season. It certainly felt like it.”

I’m curious and probably folks at home as well, why only three seasons? Not four, five or six?

“Well, it’s a hard show to do. It’s a hard show to act with all of that dialogue. It’s even harder to write all of that dialogue. Even harder than that, you’ve got to drop great scripts on the desk every two weeks. To maintain the highest level, Aaron felt he needed more time. We all felt we needed more time and just didn’t have it. That’s the television schedule. Every two weeks, you’re doing the next episode. There’s an argument to be made for 3-0. You could go up to four or five or six, now you have people comparing seasons--which season they like better. Now you have actors no longer with the show because they moved on or the show had run out of stories and you kind of kept going two more seasons. We don’t have that.”

Daniels said most of the drama series was filmed in Los Angeles, however some scenes were shot in New York City.

Twenty years later, Daniels reunites with Jim Carrey for “Dumb and Dumber To”

The Michigan native reprises his role as Harry Dunne in “Dumb and Dumber To” alongside Jim Carrey, who returns as Lloyd Christmas. This is actually the second film in the franchise. Another film by the name of “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” was released in 2003 as a prequel, but it featured a completely different cast.

“I really enjoyed going back to work with Jim Carrey," Daniels said. "He’s a comedic genius. Only Jim Carrey does what Jim does. That’s unique, that’s original and it’s a thrill to be around. We showed up 20 years later, we’re these guys again. They’re middle-aged, still that stupid. From the first day of shooting on, we were back into it. Jim’s a good friend as we enjoy being with each other off-camera and I think that shows up on-camera as well. I know we threw everything we had at it. If that counts for anything, I like our chances.”

The movie trailer already has 23 million views after it debuted on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.” That’s a lot more than most trailers get.

“It’s a lot more than most anything. We did not leave it in the locker room as athletes say. I hope that those 23 million people are satisfied. We certainly gave it everything we had.”

Can you discuss the plot for me?

“It’s similar to the first one," the Michigan native added. "The only thing you really need to know is these guys have not gained one ounce of intelligence in 20 years. It’s like they haven’t aged a day, at least mentally. The story takes place all over. I think most of it was shot in Atlanta as well as El Paso, Texas.”

I understand the Mutt Cutts van is going on a coast-to-coast tour. Can we expect a stop in A2?

“I don’t know if it will stop in Ann Arbor, but I have heard of that same tour. I heard that is going to drive across country and I’ve been in that van. I’ve heard the engine running and I can’t imagine how it would make it down the block, let alone across the country.”

Look for "Dumb and Dumber To" to hit theaters nationwide on Friday, November 14.

The Purple Rose Theatre is still going strong

For those who don’t already know, Daniels owns and operates a Broadway-style theatre in the small community of Chelsea, Mich. where he grew up.

“The Purple Rose is doing well with I believe our 22nd year,” he explained. “Maybe more than that I have to do the math. We’re still going strong, people are still supporting it and we’re still supporting a lot of professional theatre artists—whether they’d be actors, writers, directors, designers. The vision that I had over 20 years ago is still there at 8 o’clock every night.”

Sometimes Jeff will make an unexpected appearance at his theatre

“Oh yes, sometimes. Yeah, I tend not to tell people when I’m going to walk in the door. To be honest, the place may have my name on it and I may have founded it, but it’s not for me. It’s for them. It’s for the people they see on stage, it’s for Guy Sanville, it’s for all of those Michigan professional theater artists. It’s not for me to go there to be recognized. I’m real proud of the work that they’ve done.”

Daniels says the Purple Rose was created for younger stars to get started in their career and serve as a launching pad to bigger and better things.

“It’s for the 21-year-old kid to learn what it takes to make it in the business," the Michigan native said. "To learn what they need to know before they go. I didn’t have that. I left Michigan for New York and crossed my fingers. Now, that kid, he or she has a place where they can go. We will teach you the level of acting you need to have before you get in the car and leave.”

What’s next for Jeff Daniels?

“Oh, I’m going to promote Dumb and Dumber [To]. In the short term, this tour. We’re in rehearsal now. The first show is in Bay City on the 13th of August. We wrap around and end up at The Ark. The second show is on sale. We have that on Monday the 18th. We keep going through Wisconsin and end up at the Marquette Blues Festival on Labor Day weekend. There’s some things going on. The phone’s ringing. It’s nice when it rings. When the phone rings, it’s a lot less lonely.”

When I asked if he had anything to add, Daniels replied: “No, we did it.”

Click here to purchase tickets to Jeff Daniel's show at The Ark. For more information about HBO's "The Newsroom," For more information about Universal's "Dumb and Dumber To," visit

Related Stories: Jeff Daniels encourages U-M graduates to be persistent in finding career jobs; Thousands say Michigan film incentives are working, Gov. Snyder; WATCH: Jeff Daniels, Mitch Albom and others address the Michigan Film Town Hall in Livonia; WATCH: Exclusive Interview with Jeff Daniels at the U-M Winter Commencement




Tickets are still available for the second night at The Ark.


Graphic credit: HBO

Daniels just wrapped up shooting of the third and final season of HBO's "The Newsroom."


Photo credit:

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels having fun on the set of "Dumb and Dumber To."


Graphic credit: Universal Pictures

Look for "Dumb and Dumber To" to hit theaters nationwide on Friday, Nov. 14.


Graphic credit: Universal Pictures

In the meantime, the Mutt Cutts Van will be going on a nationwide tour this fall.






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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.