'The Newsroom's' Jeff Daniels: Before the Emmys, 'Heartburn' and 'Breaking Away'

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jeff-daniels-before-they-were-emmy-nominees.jpgRemember when Jeff Daniels pined for Meryl Streep? You don't?

That happened -- on screen, anyway -- long before the actor earned his 2013 Emmy nomination, the first of his career, as anchorman Will McAvoy on HBO's "The Newsroom."

Among his numerous movies was director Mike Nichols' 1986 take on Nora Ephron's autobiographical best seller "Heartburn," casting Daniels as the smitten editor who haplessly watched food writer Streep (as Ephron, basically) fall for a columnist played by Jack Nicholson (more or less representing Carl Bernstein) at a wedding. Take a look:


From that point forward, Daniels' roles primarily were starring ones, such projects as "Terms of Endearment" and Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo" having boosted him toward that status. But television gave him a couple of his earliest roles, and he was just getting started as an iconic series was ending.
His first professional credit was "The Flight of the Jewels," a 1980 episode of the original "Hawaii Five-0" televised about a month before the CBS crime drama wrapped its 12th and final season. (The photo on the left at the top of the post is from that episode.)

Along with Linwood Boomer -- alias Adam Kendall on "Little House on the Prairie" and the creator of "Malcolm in the Middle" -- Daniels played one of several college students who put their smarts to criminal use, using model airplanes to try to steal the Hawaiian crown jewels.

(Imagine what a time Will McAvoy would have reporting that now.)

Also in 1980, Daniels appeared along with someone else who would make a mark in movies -- "Moonstruck" Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis -- in the premiere episode of ABC's short-lived "Breaking Away," scripted by the writer of the film that inspired the series, Steve Tesich (also an Oscar winner).

Jackie Earle Haley and Barbara Barrie reprised their roles from the 1979 movie, though Shaun Cassidy replaced Dennis Christopher in the lead. Daniels played a youth who wasn't a "cutter," the handle for the Indiana teen outcasts who were the heroes of the show.


Daniels has been a star more often than not over the course of his career, but as these credits confirm, everybody has to start somewhere.
Photo/Video credit: CBS, HBO, Paramount PIctures