Why Del Harris From American Rust Looks So Familiar
Murder-mystery television is a genre that never really seems to go out of style. “Mare of Easttown” was a big hit for HBO, receiving a stunning 16 Emmy nominations and taking home four of them. The best murder mysteries can be the very definition of event television. “American Rust,” which debuted on Showtime in early September, had all of the ingredients to be just like “Mare of Easttown.” It took place in a small town, focused on morally gray characters, and, of course, had a central murder mystery for police protagonist to solve.
Unfortunately, “American Rust” didn’t really connect with critics, scoring a subpar 35% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing. Audiences seemed to enjoy it, however, and a second season is still up in the air. Still, “American Rust” features a pretty compelling cast, including actor Jeff Daniels in the role of Del Harris. Daniels has a long and notable acting career and it wouldn’t be surprising if some fans find him to be a familiar face. Here are some of Daniels’ most recognizable roles, from smaller, more dramatic roles to big Hollywood movies.
Jeff Daniels had a key supporting role in Speed
The ’90s was a fairly notable decade for extremely popular and stylistic action movies, and perhaps one of the more well-known action films of this time period is “Speed.” It arguably helped launch Keanu Reeves into the action star that fans know and love today. Its premise was preposterous but intense: Officer Jack Traven (Reeves) must make sure a bus stays above 50 miles per hour or else it will explode. What could have been a disastrous result was extremely well received by critics, as it currently has a 94% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also raked in the cash, grossing $121 million at the domestic box office (per Box Office Mojo).
While it was far from Jeff Daniels’ first role, it was arguably his most high profile at this point in his career. The actor played a pivotal role as Harry Temple, who was Jack’s partner and somewhat of a mentor to the young cop. It was a nice counterbalance to Jack’s recklessness, and the two had a lot of chemistry. It also wouldn’t be Daniels’ last taste of monumental box office glory.
Daniels found success again in Dumb and Dumber
Of all the comedy event films of the ’90s, “Dumb and Dumber” was perhaps the most unusual at the time. While star Jim Carrey was on a hot streak after the success of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Mask” earlier in 1994, the Farrelly brothers were untested as directors and Daniels had never really tried his hand at comedy before. Basically, the movie was one of those risks that could have easily tanked at the box office and become forgotten in the annals of film history.
Luckily for everyone involved, that did not happen. “Dumb and Dumber” grossed an impressive $246 million on a budget of only $17 million (per The Numbers) and, while not exactly critically acclaimed, it still garnered a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes and was praised for Carrey’s wild performance as Lloyd Christmas and Daniels’ against-type comedic energy as another guy named Harry — Lloyd’s best friend Harry Dunne. In fact, many argued that the film had completely redefined the latter’s career while solidifying the former’s status as a comedic superstar. The duo would later revisit the characters in “Dumb and Dumber To,” but it wasn’t nearly as well-received by critics or fans as the original.
Daniels starred on the short-lived The Newsroom
Writer and director Aaron Sorkin arguably rose to prominence after the success of his political drama television series “The West Wing,” which focused on the fictional President Josiah Bartlet and his administration. While he eventually moved to feature films, Sorkin would occasionally return to television as well. In 2012, he once again tried his hand at a politically-centered show with “The Newsroom,” a series that focused on the behind-the-scenes drama of a cable news network.
On the show, Daniels stepped into the lead role of Will McAvoy, a Republican news anchor. While it wasn’t the actor’s first foray into television, it would prove to be his first starring role on a series. The series never really achieved much in the way of critical acclaim or awards love — its first season only achieved a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, Daniels and the rest of the cast were unanimously praised, and fans were a bit more kind to it. Still, the show is notable as Daniels’ first embrace of long-form television, and it arguably helped lead him to his role on “American Rust.”