Jeff Daniels has revealed that the famous speech his "Newsroom" character delivered at the start of the HBO series' pilot saved his career.
In the epic Aaron Sorkin-penned monologue, Daniels' character, Will McAvoy, speaks about why America is not the greatest nation in the world anymore, highlighting the country's shortcomings. Speaking with GQ, Daniels explained that at the time there was no certainty that the show would even become a reality and the speech was a gamble. It ended up being a hit.
"That was the speech I had been waiting 35 years to do," he said. "You have to hit a home run with it."
Daniels explained that the speech was shot on day three of an 18-day shoot and there was no guarantee that they had a series.
"People bigger than Aaron Sorkin had gotten turned down by HBO," he said. "This was a key day because not only are we going to find out do we have a Will McAvoy, but do we have a show. Because this is placed in the first five minutes of the first episode when America is still sitting there with the remote deciding whether they want to stay with this or not. So we have to throw a knockout punch to them in the first five to 10 minutes."
Daniels recalled how top execs were at the taping along with several cast members, curious to see how the scene would go down.
"Sam [Waterston] (Charlie Skinner) later said, 'I just wanted to see if I was going to have a job or not.’ It was all on me," Daniels said. "I worked my ass off on it. First take, I hit it out of the park. I know that because Aaron walked over to me after take one and he goes, 'OK, you’re pitching a no-hitter. I’m not going to talk to you.' And he walked away. That was great. Then I knew I had a role, I pretty much — with Aaron’s help — saved my career and that everyone had a job."
Also during the interview, Daniels admitted that "Newsroom" was "flat-out a chance to get into television in a big way, with Aaron Sorkin."
"I loved 'West Wing,' I loved his writing, and was happy that Aaron Sorkin wanted me," he continued. "James Gandolfini did "God of Carnage" with me on Broadway and I told him, I said I'm thinking of getting into television, the movies are starting to dry up and, he goes 'Well, if you're gonna get into television, get yourself a good writer. I got David Chase, that's what you need.' And I got lucky, Aaron Sorkin wanted me. Then I knew I was okay. Then I knew I was in. And then all I had to do was work my a** off, and keep it."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.