Jeff Daniels was Harry Dunne opposite Jim Carrey’s Lloyd Christmas long before he was a brilliant anchor on Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Maybe some people thought that it showed progression in Daniels’ career that he was now doing something “respectable.”
But now The Newsroom is ending. And Harry Dunne is back in Dumb and Dumber To.
Is this backsliding for Daniels?
“It’s a thrill to me and a career highlight and perhaps unprecedented to have The Newsroom air its first episode on Sunday night and then Dumb and Dumber To open domestically on Friday,” Daniels told Esquire. “I couldn’t be happier with that. I’ve always wanted to show range.”
Daniels appreciates the time he has had working with Sorkin and learning more about what news networks do behind the scenes.
“I have a much better understanding of what they’re doing, Daniels says. “The big thing for me that I came away with was the struggle that they have. In particular, when news is breaking… I look at them as really great columnists. On whatever side of the aisle they’re coming from.”
Daniels is amazed at what these 24-hour news cycle folks have to do. He said sometimes it’s like they know, “We have three facts, we don’t know anything more, and we have to keep talking for four hours.”
But he also knows that some of them do not see it as their job to calm and reassure the public in times of crisis.
“I don’t know about keeping the calm, he said. “Because fear sells. If there’s breaking news you want to keep everybody glued. And that’s part of the struggle. Whether or not there are people in these guys’ ears saying, ‘Keep the fear up,’ they know what keeps people glued. And it’s not ‘Everything’s okay.'”
But he also sees a place for Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas in a world where things can get really scary, really fast, and all unfold on the news before us in real time.
“I also think that maybe because there’s so much fear, because the world is so complex and dark and the economy isn’t great—though for some we’re being told it is—and Ferguson, Missouri, Ottawa, Ebola, ISIS, there are a lot of things to be scared of. Here’s a place you can go for 90 minutes to get away from that.”