10 Questions With Jeff Daniels

The actor and musician talks about his career, his health philosophy, and the importance of family.

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on September 01, 2015
3 min read

The ever-versatile actor Jeff Daniels is also a musician. He talks about his role in the movie Steve Jobs, his latest album, touring with his son, and what keeps him grounded.

1. In the film Steve Jobs, you play former Apple CEO John Sculley, who fired Jobs in 1985. What appealed to you about the role?

Aaron Sorkin wrote it. It's a great part, and it's a great story. Aaron painted a very sympathetic portrait of someone who did absolutely everything he could to make it work with Steve, and it didn't.

2. Is it hard to play such a wide range of characters, especially going from an intellect like Newsroom's anchor Will McAvoy to the dim-witted Harry Dunne in Dumb & Dumber?

It helps with a jump from Will McAvoy to Harry Dunne, because they're so wildly different. That's an easier transition. The tougher one is where it's a little more subtle and they're kind of variations of yourself. That gets a little tricky.

3. You're also an accomplished musician. What do you like most about performing?

You have complete creative control when you walk out with a guitar and a chair, and you've got to hold them for 90 minutes. You're everything -- you're the orchestra, the supporting players, the director, the editor, the writer. And if it's great, good for you. If it's not, the blame's on you. All the glory and all the blame. I like that.

4. What types of venues do you enjoy playing?

I prefer the opera houses, the clubs -- those kinds of places, because you can do more with them. It's like you're working in a close-up or a medium close-up. I like that. And a lot of what I do is talk to the audience. There's an art to it. There's a craft to it.

5. What was the experience of touring with your son, Ben, like?

It means the world to me that I'm so close with my kids -- close enough that he would come out on the road with me. I'm lucky, and I enjoyed every second we were on the road together. Hope to do it again.

6. Why is family especially important to you?

The longer you're around, you learn that it's fleeting. Enjoy it while it lasts, because then it will be gone and you've got to reinvent yourself. It's hills and valleys, especially in an actor's career. Family and music and things like watching my son become this musical artist -- that lasts, that's permanent.

7. What's the most important message you've taught your children?

No one's going to hand you anything. And if you don't throw everything you've got at it and outwork everybody else, then you won't succeed or won't be your best.

8. What's your health philosophy?

It's simple -- moderate exercise and diet. Lean-eating habits. I don't snack.

9. What's the best health advice you've ever gotten?

My cardiologist said, "Do something every day. Even if it's a 30-minute walk, do that. But just don't miss." It was great advice -- just get out there, get moving, keep stretching, keep limber, eat right, and you're going to feel a lot younger than you are. And it's true.

10. How do you stay centered?

The guitar. Just noodling on the guitar is kind of trance-like. It's always been there for me. When the phone hasn't rung for 2 weeks, and I'm wondering if I'll ever work again, it's been the friend. It's been the one that says, "Play me, you'll feel better."

Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of "WebMD Magazine."