- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
In a recent career retrospective with GQ, the award-winning actor revealed that the “America is not the greatest country in the world” diatribe Will McAvoy delivers to kick off the series was not initially in Sorkin’s script.
“That speech came later,” he told GQ. “Two weeks before we start shooting, Aaron said, ‘We need to see what happened at Northwestern [University] when Will went to speak. We can’t just talk about what happened in the past.’ So he wrote that speech and I had two weeks to learn it.”
In the three-minute speech, Daniels’ McAvoy, anchor and managing editor within the fictional Atlantis Cable News, bluntly explains the country’s vast shortcomings, thus why America is not the greatest nation in the world anymore.
That speech saved the show — and the show saved Daniels’ career, the actor reminisced.
“That was the speech I had been waiting 35 years to do,” he said. “You have to hit a home run with it. It was shot on day three of an 18-day shoot for the pilot. There was no guarantee we had a series. People bigger than Aaron Sorkin had gotten turned down by HBO. This was a key day because not only are we going to find out do we have a Will McAvoy, but do we have a show. Because this is placed in the first five minutes of the first episode when America is still sitting there with the remote deciding whether they want to stay with this or not. So we have to throw a knockout punch to them in the first five to 10 minutes.”
Top network executives came to the taping that day, Daniels recalled, along with a number of the cast. “Sam [Waterston, who played Charlie Skinner] later said, ‘I just wanted to see if I was going to have a job or not.’ It was all on me,” Daniels said. “I worked my ass off on it. First take, I hit it out of the park. I know that because Aaron walked over to me after take one and he goes, ‘OK, you’re pitching a no-hitter. I’m not going to talk to you.’ And he walked away. That was great. Then I knew I had a role, I pretty much — with Aaron’s help — saved my career and that everyone had a job.”
The Newsroom premiered on HBO June 24, 2012, and ran three seasons for a total of 25 episodes.
Check out Daniels’ full career retrospective below.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day