Jeff Daniels Credits Clint Eastwood with Teaching Him How to ‘Hit It’ in One Take

Many know actor/musician Jeff Daniels for his roles in classic ‘90s films like “Speed” and “Dumb and Dumber,” as well as his Emmy-winning performance as Will McAvoy in the Aaron Sorkin HBO series “The Newsroom.” However, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels says he received the greatest camera-acting education during his collaboration with Clint Eastwood on the 2002 mystery thriller “Blood Work.”

Eastwood, notorious for shooting very few takes, if not only one, made Daniels realize preparation and spontaneity are key.

More from IndieWire

“I do not sit around with casts on any project and talk about our collective journey. I love to make it happen in front of the camera for the first time in take one,” Daniels said. “In Clint Eastwood movies, that’s where I learned it. You get one take, and then Clint’s moving the camera. So that’s where you learn to hit it on one.”

Having recently led the Netflix series adaptation of the Tom Wolfe novel “A Man in Full,” Daniels shared how this is especially helpful in television.

“Because they have less money and they need to squeeze more in every day, if you don’t hit it on one or two, they’re going to edit it later and they’re moving. You got to hit it. So if we aren’t going to rehearse, and we have to hit it on one and two, let’s live dangerously and just roll. Then if the actors know their lines, and they have a plan going in, it collides.”

Capturing this alchemy, Daniels explained, requires an ability to react in the moment, but also a trust that everyone involved in a scene comes into already ready-to-go.

“I don’t really want to know what Bill Camp has planned. I don’t want to know what Tom Pelphrey is going to do,” Daniels said to THR. “I want to see it in front of the camera so that I can react to it. Half of your performance is in the other actor when you work like this. It’s freeing in a way, but you’ve got to do the work on your end to know what you’re doing.”

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.