Hollywood star Jeff Daniels on his career and new politically charged drama The Comey Rule with Brendan Gleeson as Donald Trump…
Star of film and TV Jeff Daniels returns to our screens tonight with intense new four-part drama The Comey Rule on Sky Atlantic.
It revolves around newly elected president Donald Trump’s bitter fall out with FBI Director James ‘Jim' Comey. And it is based on Comey’s 2018 memoir, A Higher Loyalty.
Jeff Daniels and Brendan Gleeson (The Guard, Paddington 2) are well-matched as Comey and Trump, in this heavy-weight drama that follows events from the explosive 2016 American election until Comey was fired by Trump in May 2017.
We caught up with Hollywood star Jeff Daniels, 65, to learn more about The Comey Rule and chat about his impressive career…
Why did you want to make this drama?
Jeff Daniels: "The Comey Rule is a project that matters. Not everything you get to do as an actor may have an effect on the audience that may change them. And it’s not often that you tell a story that we’re still living. This has all of that. It’s relevant. The Comey Rule will give people more information about something they think they know but don’t really. They’re going to find out why James Comey did what he did and what he was thinking when he did it."
How did you approach playing Comey?
JD: "I don’t look like him, but there was never any discussion of prosthetics. I put a hairpiece on and some lifts in my shoes because Comey is 6ft 8in. I worked on the voice a little bit, but other than that, it is really about showing the audience what he’s thinking. So that’s what we did."
Brendan Gleeson is a powerful presence as Donald Trump. What do you think of his performance?
JD: "It’s always a pleasure to be around actors who have no ego, just a work ethic. This isn’t Alec Baldwin doing a Saturday Night Live sketch. We wanted the beating heart inside Trump – the darkness, and what he’s thinking, to see it in his eyes. Brendan delivered. The hair and everything else is important, but secondary. When you’re 3ft across from Brendan Gleeson as Trump and he’s looking at you and asking you for loyalty, you know exactly what he means."
Do you think the story will translate to an international audience?
JD: "Yes, because the story has been set up so people anywhere can follow it. This is the story of one man taking on something far more powerful than he is, and that’s a universal story."
How does this series compare to other work in your career?
JD: "There have been two phases to my career as I look at it. One was to take the best thing that you’re offered at the time. I’d say everything leading up to The Newsroom was ‘What’s the best thing out there? Let’s go get it’. Sometimes it ended up being a really good project, like The Purple Rose of Cairo, Something Wild, even Dumb and Dumber - it made an impact. It wasn’t just doing a movie people forget. I’ve done those too."
And the second phase?
JD: " With The Newsroom I got interested again in acting versus thinking I’d a good run, I’m out. Newsroom bought me ten years. It bought me Godless, The Looming Tower and James Comey. They’re complicated roles where you risk failure, and after 44 years of doing this, that’s what I need to stay interested. I’ve been lucky I’ve had these opportunities - it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s certainly not what they teach in stage school, that’s for sure!"
The Comey Rule airs on Sky Atlantic at 9pm, Wednesday 30 September 2020.
With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and (opens in new tab)www.whattowatch.com (opens in new tab) covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.
As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast.
After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.
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