What the Hell Happened to Jeffrey Jones?
Jeffrey Jones is an actor most renowned for his roles playing the strange, generally unlikable comic foils to the audience’s hero. Jones is more than that, though. He is a purist who greatly values acting and takes the craft very seriously. He spent years honing his ability in acting schools, and many more in theater, including Broadway. When he imported that to the silver screen, it panned out well. Recently though, things haven’t been going so hot for Jones. Roles have dried up; he has been arrested on numerous occasions, the jailing centering around his status as a sex offender.
What the hell happened?
After graduating from a prestigious Vermont boarding school, the Buffalo native embarked on the career path he had chosen for himself – medicine. Not acting. Not yet.
While a premed student at Lawrence University, Jones began to appear in some university stage productions. Apparently, he shone through the pack like a golden wolf, as the famed Tyrone Guthrie, stage director, invited him to the company at his Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Having switched career paths, he went to London to study at the city’s Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and then the Stratford Theater in Ontario.
His stage career arc took him, eventually to Broadway, where he starred opposite folks like Sigourney Weaver, the late David Bowie, Meryl Streep, even this man, who still haunts the theater, his peg leg betraying his presence.
Eventually, having risen to the cream of the crop on stage, Jones tried his hand at filmed work. He started off small, beginning with a bit part in the Jon Voight political drama The Revolutionary. It was released to little fanfare critically or commercially.
This was to be his last movie/TV role for twelve years, as the Broadway train kept on rolling during that period. After which, he embarked on a screen journey lasting his whole career to date.
Sans an uncredited role as “Guest” in The Wedding and a host of unremarkable TV guest appearances, Jones’ next appearance was in the Cold War action film The Soldier as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, where he assists the guy who “doesn’t assign, but unleashes” Ken Wahl as the Soldier. The movie received little attention from either side of the aisle.
Next up was Jones’ first role that anyone actually looked up to notice, Clive Barlow in Easy Money.
Rodney Dangerfield yuks it up as a gambling, drinking, marijuana-smoking family man (?!) trying to clean up his messy act to get a load of a department store inheritance. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays his daughter, and Joe Pesci plays his friend (think less Goodfellas, more Gone Fishin’). Jones meanwhile plays a man hired to keep Rodney from receiving a single penny.
The movie performed decently at the box office, and critics were so-so.
Next for Jones was one of his most enduring roles as the blue-eyed Habsburg Emperor Joseph II in the Vienna-set period drama Amadeus.
Salieri and Mozart enjoyed one of the most famous, and productive rivalries, ever gifted upon to world. They made Federer/Nadal seem like two puppies rolling after a tennis ball. Their rivalry is documented on film with Tom Hulce as Mozart, F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, and Jones as the pompous, bloated Emperor. He is Mozart’s patron, however, so we kinda have him to thank for that. Thanks, man.
Jeffrey Jones is also thanking the Emperor, but not because he is a classical music fanatic. More so because the role is one of Jones’ most famous. Probably, if forced to decide, I would say his second-most famous. Though Jones himself was not nominated, the movie swept the Oscars like fingers gliding from key C8 to key A0. 8 for 11 in Oscar wins. When Laurence Olivier announced the best picture winner, he didn’t list off the other nominees. He simply said “The winner for this is Amadeus“. Maurice Jarre won for Best Score, saying “thankfully Mozart wasn’t eligible”. Critics hated it though. Ha, still paying attention? Ok. No, critics and audiences adored the movie.
Posted on January 15, 2016, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged amadeus, Beetlejuice, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, howard the duck, Jeffrey Jones. Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.