Jeffrey Jones

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Jeffrey Jones
Jeffrey Jones.jpg
Jeffrey Jones in 2012
BornJeffrey Duncan Jones
(1946-09-28) September 28, 1946 (age 72)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationPutney School, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Alma materLawrence University
Years active1970–present
Notable workAmadeus, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Beetlejuice, The Crucible
ChildrenJulian Coutts[1]

Jeffrey Duncan Jones (born September 28, 1946) is an American character actor best known for his roles as Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus (1984), Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Charles Deetz in Beetlejuice (1988), and A. W. Merrick in Deadwood (2004–2006).[2][3] His career started in Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota and advanced to London and Broadway. In film and television, Jones has had many roles which capitalized on his deadpan portrayal of characters in unusual situations, often to comic effect. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance in Amadeus and a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble cast of Deadwood. [4][5]

In 2003, Jones pleaded no contest to a felony charge of soliciting a 14-year-old boy to pose for nude photographs. Since then, he has appeared in two films and one television series.

Early career[edit]

After graduating from the Putney School in 1964, Jones enrolled at Lawrence University as a premed student, where his performances in university productions brought him to the attention of Tyrone Guthrie, who recruited him for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[6] He then went to London in 1969 to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, followed by a three-year stint with the Stratford Theatre in Stratford, Ontario.[7]

His stage career included more than 125 productions, starting with the Guthrie Theater, then internationally in South America, Canada, and London,[8] and ultimately in New York's Broadway theatre, appearing with Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Walken, David Bowie and Meryl Streep. Productions included, Cloud 9, A Flea in Her Ear, Romeo and Juliet and The Elephant Man. His transition from stage to film began in 1970.[6]

Film and television career[edit]

Jones began acting in small parts in film and television in the 1970s. In his best-known roles as Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, Charles Deetz in Beetlejuice, and Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, his dead-pan expression and distinctive face bring a comic flavor to his characters through their reactions to the situations in which they find themselves, more so than the wit in their scripted lines.[6] The New York Times' biographic profile says of Jones, "Although he has tried to steer clear of playing only sinister roles, the actor's imposing height, bugged-out eyes, easy sneer, and shock of reddish-blond hair give him vaguely devilish features that have prompted villain typecasting. However, the actor is also widely respected and considered a boon wherever he appears." The profile describes his portrayals variously as a "hissable, cartoonish high school principal" in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a "good-natured father" in Beetlejuice, "an interplanetary freedom fighter" in Mom and Dad Save the World, a "demon stand-in" in Stay Tuned, "evil bespectacled twins" in Out on a Limb, plus other personae in a variety of other roles.[8]


Miloš Forman cast Jones as Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor in Amadeus (1984), an adaptation of the Peter Shaffer play of the same name, upon seeing his work in the Lucille Lortel Theatre production of Cloud 9.[9][10] Critic James Berardinelli noted that Jones portrayed the Emperor "as a superficial and self-absorbed ruler who can't tell the difference between a great opera and a mediocre one".[11] Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised the performance, citing the film's most memorable line, when the Emperor complains of Die Entführung aus dem Serail that "there are too many notes".[12] Jones' work earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture.[13]

Ferris Bueller's Day Off[edit]

Jones' performance as Edward R. Rooney in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) made him a cultural icon.[6][14] Rooney, self-important and obsessed with catching the chronically truant Ferris Bueller, became a symbol of pomposity and authoritarian hatefulness. The New York Times' review characterized Jones' performance as having "fine cartoon like ferocity", wherein his character "gets scratched, bitten, attacked by ferocious dogs and covered with mud while pursuing his weaker, but craftier, prey, and emerges each time bruised but undaunted, thinking up some new (and futile) plan." The review likened Jones' role as akin to that of Wile E. Coyote as a character who is fated to be unable to catch The Road Runner (Ferris Bueller).[15] Jones expressed concern about being remembered more for this role than for Amadeus. He further said, regarding the film's premise, "What's amazing about Ferris Bueller, is that we're asked to, and do, sympathise with a kid whose only complaint in life is that his sister got a car for her birthday and he got a computer."[16]


In the horror comedy film Beetlejuice (1988), Jones and Catherine O'Hara portrayed a married couple (Charles and Delia Deetz) who unwittingly become co-owners of a haunted house. To highlight this couple's status as bores, director Tim Burton cast Dick Cavett and Robert Goulet to appear as their guests at a dinner party, at which the ghosts of the previous owners cause everyone to sing "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)".[17] Jones further collaborated with Burton on the films Sleepy Hollow (1998) and Ed Wood (1994), in which he portrays The Amazing Criswell.

Other films[edit]

Jones played Dr. Walter Jenning in the George Lucas film Howard the Duck (1986).[18] He portrayed Inspector Lestrade in the Sherlock Holmes spoof film Without a Clue (1988). In The Hunt for Red October (1990), he played ex-submarine commander Skip Tyler, who identifies the Red October's propulsion system to Alec Baldwin's Jack Ryan. He also appeared as real life figure Thomas Putnam in The Crucible (1996). As lumber mogul Joe Potter, Jones was the primary antagonist of the Eddie Murphy comedy Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001).

Television roles[edit]

One of Jones' earliest television roles was in an episode of the short-lived CBS series Sara (1976). He showcased his villain persona as the sinister Mister Acme (owner of Acme Toxic Waste) in the satirical comedy miniseries Fresno (1986), starring Carol Burnett, Charles Grodin and Dabney Coleman. For Disney, Jones hosted the 1987 D-TV Monster Hits musical special (as the Magic Mirror) and later co-starred with Tyra Banks, Kathy Najimy and Kevin Pollak in the video storyline portion of the Walt Disney World attraction ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, a staple of Tomorrowland from 1995 to 2003. He has had guest roles on a number of television series, including Amazing Stories, Tales from the Crypt and Batman: The Animated Series.[7] He was the star of another short-lived CBS program: sitcom The People Next Door (1989), portraying a cartoonist whose imagination could make things come to life.[8]

Jones' most prominent television role is that of newspaper publisher A. W. Merrick on the acclaimed HBO drama series Deadwood (2004–2006).[19] Keith Uhlich of Slant Magazine referred to both Jones and the character of Merrick as "peversely appropriate additions" to the program, further citing Merrick as its "secular soul".[20] Along with the ensemble cast, Jones was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.[21]

Later career[edit]

Subsequent to his legal troubles,[22] Jones has become progressively less active as a performer. Following his appearance in the golf comedy Who's Your Caddy? (2007), he was absent from film and television for several years. He returned with an uncredited cameo as Collier's editor Charles Colebaugh in the Emmy-nominated HBO original film Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012). His most recent onscreen role is that of scientist Gladstone in the disaster film 10.0 Earthquake (2014).

In May 2015, Jones had a minor success with the New American Theatre production of 63 Trillion, directed by Steve Zuckerman. The Los Angeles Times praised his portrayal of financial adviser Dick as having "malevolent gusto that Satan himself might envy."[23][24] He returned to the stage in March 2018, portraying ailing patriarch Bradley in a production of the A. R. Gurney play The Cocktail Hour, staged at the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum.[25][26]

Personal life[edit]

Jones was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Ruth (née Schooley) and Douglas Bennett Jones. His mother was an art historian, who urged him towards a career in acting. His father died during Jones's childhood.[27][28]

One interviewer found Jones to value anonymity and the enjoyment of everyday tasks, like home repairs, and found him to be uninterested in status symbols and fan adulation. In that 1989 interview, Jones pointed out that greater public recognition actually makes it more difficult to transition between roles and allow the character to come to the fore and the actor to recede from view.[6]

Jones has one son, actor Julian Coutts,[1][29] whose mother was Lloy Coutts (1941–2008), a respected Canadian voice coach. She and Jones met in Stratford, Ontario.[30]

Legal troubles[edit]

In 2002, Jones was arrested for possession of child pornography and accused of soliciting a 14-year-old boy to pose for nude photographs.[31] In 2003, he pleaded no contest to a felony charge of soliciting a minor. At the same time, the misdemeanor charge of possession of child pornography was dropped. His attorney emphasized that there was no allegation of improper physical contact. His punishment was five years probation, counseling, and the requirement to register as a sex offender.[32] Jones was arrested twice for failing to update his sex offender status, in Florida (2004)[33] and in California (2010).[34] Jones' record became the subject of community complaint during production of Who's Your Caddy? (2007) in Aiken, South Carolina. Upon learning of his involvement, locals insisted that the public should have been alerted, considering that families were being invited to visit the set.[35]



Year Title Role Notes
1970 The Revolutionary[36]
1978 A Wedding Guest Uncredited
1982 The Soldier U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense
1983 Easy Money Clive Barlow
1984 Amadeus Emperor Joseph II
1985 Transylvania 6-5000 Mayor Lepescu
1986 Ferris Bueller's Day Off Edward R. Rooney
1986 Howard the Duck Dr. Walter Jenning / Dark Overlord
1987 The Hanoi Hilton Major Fischer
1988 Beetlejuice Charles Deetz
1988 Without a Clue Inspector George Lestrade
1989 Who's Harry Crumb? Elliot Draison
1989 Valmont Gercourt
1990 The Hunt for Red October Dr. Skip Tyler
1992 Out on a Limb Matt Skearns / Peter Van Der Haven
1992 Mom and Dad Save the World Dick Nelson
1992 Stay Tuned Spike
1993 Heaven & Earth Minister Uncredited
1994 Ed Wood The Amazing Criswell
1995 Houseguest Ron Timmerman
1996 The Crucible Thomas Putnam
1997 The Devil's Advocate Eddie Barzoon
1997 The Pest Gustav Shank
1997 Santa Fe Dr. Raskin Uncredited
1997 Flypaper Roger
1999 Stuart Little Uncle Crenshaw
1999 Ravenous Colonel Hart
1999 Sleepy Hollow Reverend Steenwyck
2000 Company Man Senator Biggs
2001 Heartbreakers Mr. Appel
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Joe Potter
2001 How High Vice President
2002 Par 6 Lloyd Bator Jenkins
2007 Who's Your Caddy? Cummings
2014 10.0 Earthquake Gladstone


Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Adams Chronicles Miniseries
1976 Sara 1 episode
1977 Great Performances Sergeant Wilson 1 episode
1977 Kojak Attendant 1 episode
1978 Interrogation in Budapest TV film
1983 A Fine Romance Harr TV film
1983 Remington Steele Clifford Conant 1 episode
1985 The Twilight Zone Carl Wilkerson 1 episode
1986 If Tomorrow Comes Budge Hollander Miniseries; 1 episode
1986 George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation Thomas Jefferson TV film
1986 Fresno Mr. Acme Miniseries; 2 episodes
1986 Amazing Stories John Baldwin 1 episode
1987 Disney's DTV Monster Hits Magic Mirror TV special
1989 The People Next Door Walter Kellogg 10 episodes
1993 Tales from the Crypt Professor Finley 1 episode
1994 Duckman Warden (voice) 1 episode
1994 Eek! Stravaganza Sloth (voice) 1 episode
1995 Batman: The Animated Series Nivens / Vinnie (voice) 1 episode
1995 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Nurse / Man in White (voice) 1 episode
1995 The Avenging Angel Brother Milton Long TV film
1998 The Outer Limits Dr. Scott Perkins 1 episode
2001 Till Dad Do Us Part Brady TV film
2001–2006 Invader Zim Various voices 4 episodes
2002 The Zeta Project Detective Marcus (voice) 1 episode
2002 Justice League Sir Swami (voice) 2 episodes
2004–2006 Deadwood A. W. Merrick 33 episodes
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Charles Colebaugh TV film; uncredited

Other works[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1995 Bombmeister[37] The Bombmeister Interactive movie (unreleased)
1995 ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter L.C. Clench Theme park attraction
1998 Fallout 2 Dick Richardson (voice) Video game


  1. ^ a b TóCsa (16 May 2016). "Így néznek ki most az idén harmincéves Meglógtam a Ferrarival sztárjai". NLCafe (in Hungarian). Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Jeffrey Jones". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  3. ^ "AW Merrick played by Jeffrey Jones". HBO. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Jeffrey Jones". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  5. ^ "13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®: Nominations". Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e Shindler, Merrill (September 1989). "Keeping Up with the Jones". Los Angeles Magazine. The Monthly Guide—Films. Vol. 34. Los Angeles Times. pp. 189–192. ISSN 1522-9149. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b Bowman, Alex G. "Jeffrey Jones: Biography". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Armstrong, Derek (17 January 2014). "Movies & TV—Jeffrey Jones". New York Times. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  9. ^ Champlin, Charles (10 January 1985). "Jeffrey Jones Rising On A Musical Note". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Cloud 9". Lortel Archives. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  11. ^ Berardinelli, James (2003). "Amadeus". Reelviews. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  12. ^ Canby, Vincent (19 September 1984). "'Amadeus,' Directed by Forman". New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1985". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  14. ^ Marikar, Sheila (2 July 2010). "The Cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Where Are They Now?". ABC News. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  15. ^ Darnton, Nina (11 June 1986). "Screen: A Youth's Day Off". New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  16. ^ Smith, Adam (1 January 2014). "Ferris Bueller's Day Off Review". Empire. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  17. ^ Maslin, Janet (30 March 1988). "Review/Film; Ghosts And Extra Eyeballs". New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  18. ^ Thompson, Lea; Jones, Jeffry; Gale, Ed (2009). "Releasing the Duck". Howard the Duck (DVD (extra)). Universal Home Video. UPC-A 025195052306.
  19. ^ "Deadwood". New York Times. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  20. ^ Uhlich, Keith. "Deadweek: The Wordsmith's Credo—A Portrait of A.W. Merrick". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  21. ^ "The 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  22. ^ Press, Associated. "'Ferris Bueller' actor faces felony charge". Today. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  23. ^ "63 Trillion". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  24. ^ Gray, Margaret (14 May 2015). "A one-note aria of the financial world in '63 Trillion'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  25. ^ Hume, Valerie-Jean (VJ) (24 March 2018). "Not Quite Ready for Drinks: Due to an Illness, Coyote StageWorks' 'The Cocktail Hour' Opened Before It Should Have". CV Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  26. ^ Liebross, Audrey (26 March 2018). "BWW Review: A Qualified Yes to THE COCKTAIL HOUR". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  27. ^ "Jeffrey Jones Biography". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  28. ^ "Jeffrey Jones". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 17 December 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  29. ^ "Who is Julian Coutts?". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  30. ^ "Lloy Coutts". Toronto Globe and Mail. Deaths. 5 July 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  31. ^ Susman, Gary (1 November 2002). "Actor Jeffrey Jones is busted on child porn charges". Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  32. ^ WENN (9 July 2003). "Jeffrey Jones Pleads No Contest To Porn Charges". Retrieved 10 October 2018. Jones, 56, says, "This concludes a really painful chapter in my life. I'm sorry that this incident was allowed to occur. Such an event has never happened before and it will never happen again."
  33. ^ "'Ferris Bueller' actor faces felony charge". 30 June 2010. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012.
  34. ^ Black, Caroline (29 September 2010). "Jeffrey Jones Guilty: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" Actor Didn't Update Sex Offender Status". CBS News. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  35. ^ Cho, Diane (23 October 2006). "Cast of movie filming in Aiken includes registered sex offender". WRDW-TV. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  36. ^ "Jeffrey Jones biography". Tribute. Tribute Entertainment Media Group. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  37. ^ Wilson, F. Paul (31 March 2009). Aftershock & Others: 16 Oddities. Tom Doherty Associates. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-4299-6817-1. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

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