Yeah. Get out of the way. Which is my whole thing. Which is what happens when you move to the Midwest and you’ve been waiting for 35 years and you’ve seen other people get roles that you wanted, when you’ve seen other people do speeches. That you know you are now given your opportunity. It’s the ninth inning, bases are loaded, you need to get a hit. Now. Preferably a home run. Now. Anything else is unacceptable.
It’s oftentimes said that the greatest fear people have is the fear of public speaking, even more so than the fear of dying. What this means is that most people are so terrified of giving a eulogy at a funeral that they’d rather be the one in the casket instead. We look upon people who perform publicly as a career and figure that we could never do it. We’d be paralyzed in fear.
I don’t recall exactly where I first heard this helpful tidbit, but it really helps to shine a new light on this line of thinking. Everyone gets butterflies in their stomach, even professionals. The key is to train those butterflies to fly in formation. Nice, right?
When asked whether the intense pressure of the situation (the show hadn’t officially been confirmed or picked up by HBO at that point) added to his fire or made him more nervous, Jeff Daniels responded with the quote above. He understood that you “just have to outwork everyone else on the show.” You’ve got to get those butterflies in formation.
I just wanted to be an actor. I didn’t want to be a star. That’s all I’m trained to do. I’m not trained, I didn’t go to star school. I don’t know how to do that. I’m not interested in that, but I will be a really good actor. That’s the only part of this that I’m interested in.
As a gross oversimplification, we can broadly categorize actors (and other similar professionals) into one of two camps. On the one hand, you’ve got the people who are after fame and fortune. They chase the big trends and hope to get noticed. They want to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On the other hand, you have the notion of the tortured artist. This is the person who strives to be exceptional in his or her craft, staying true to the artistry. As UK writer and critic Cyril Connolly once told us, it’s “better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.”
And even though many of remember the insane antics of the character Harry Dunne in Dumb and Dumber (playing opposite to Jim Carrey’s Lloyd Christmas), we do get the impression that Jeff Daniels falls into the latter camp of “serious” actors. In his own words, he “never bought whatever you had to do in L.A. to sustain a movie career… I could not do that, would not do that.”
He isn’t a schmoozer. He just wants the opportunity to step up to the plate and hit one out of the park. You’ve got to respect that.