As a struggling young actor in New York City, Jeff Daniels found solace in the Guild D-40 guitar he brought from his native Chelsea, Michigan. "I knew I'd be sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, and I knew I needed something to keep me sane," says Daniels. "And I knew I needed to learn more than three chords." The 59-year-old star of The Newsroom and Dumb and Dumber To talks to us before joining his son's group, Ben Daniels Band, at Music Box Supper Club Jan. 31.
Q: What are the similarities between acting and music?
A: The common thread is you're telling a story. Writing a song is not an easy thing to do, but I like complex challenges. I'm a chess guy, not a checkers guy. A song is all mine, all the blame and all the glory. I like the creative freedom it allows.
Q: How does it feel to perform with your son Ben?
A: It's a life highlight. You love the fact that your kid is in his 20s and is still speaking to you. It's a shared experience — I'm not going out there and staring at my navel. The musicianship of Ben and his band adds a lot. It's as good as anything I've done in my acting career.
Q: Who are your musical influences?
A: Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Christine Lavin and Jason Isbell. When I listen to songs, I'm listening to writing. I'm stealing from everybody.
Q: What was it like reuniting with Jim Carrey on Dumb and Dumber To?
A: It was great to bring Harry and Lloyd back to life. It was like those characters were waiting for us.
Q: What's Harry's favorite music?
A: He loves Lady Gaga. Harry thinks he's great.