Jeffrey Jones

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Jeffrey Jones
Jeffrey Jones.jpg
Jeffrey Jones in 2012
Born Jeffrey Duncan Jones
(1946-09-28) September 28, 1946 (age 71)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Citizenship American
Education Putney School, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Alma mater Lawrence University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1970–present
Notable work Amadeus, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Beetlejuice
Children Julian Coutts[1]

Jeffrey Duncan Jones (born September 28, 1946) is an American actor best known for his roles as Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Charles Deetz in Beetlejuice (1988), Skip Tyler in The Hunt for Red October (1990) 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 portrayal of Joseph II in Amadeus (1984)[4] and a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble cast of Deadwood.[5]

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]


Jones' roles in Easy Money (1983) and Remington Steele led Miloš Forman to cast him as Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus (1984), an adaptation of the Peter Shaffer play of the same name. According to one reviewer, he portrayed the Emperor "as a superficial and self-absorbed ruler who can't tell the difference between a great opera and a mediocre one".[9] New York Times critic, Vincent Canby, praised Jones' performance as the Emperor, citing the film's most memorable line, when the Emperor complains of The Marriage of Figaro that "there are too many notes".[10] Jones' performance earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture.[11]

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][12] Rooney, self-important and obsessed with catching the chronically truant Ferris Bueller, became a symbol of pomposity and authoritarian hatefulness. In a movie review, the New York Times characterized Jones' performance "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).[13] Jones expressed concern about being remembered more for this role than for Amadeus. Jones further said, regarding the premise of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "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."[14]


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 casts 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)".[15] Jones further collaborated with Burton on the films Ed Wood (1994), in which Jones portrays The Amazing Criswell, and Sleepy Hollow (1998).

Other films[edit]

Jones portrayed Inspector Lestrade in the Sherlock Holmes spoof film Without a Clue (1988). In The Hunt for Red October (1990), he plays 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 is the primary antagonist of the Eddie Murphy comedy Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001).

Television roles[edit]

One of Jones's earlier television roles was in an episode of the 1976 CBS series Sara. In 1986, he showcased his villain persona in the role of the sinister Mister Acme (owner of Acme Toxic Waste), in the satirical comedy miniseries Fresno, with Carol Burnett, Charles Grodin and Dabney Coleman. In 1995, Jones co-starred with Tyra Banks, Kathy Najimy, and Kevin Pollak in the video storyline portion of the Walt Disney World Tomorrowland attraction ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. He also hosted Disneys D-TV Monster Hits musical special, as The Magic Mirror (Snow White). He has had guest roles on a number of television series, including Amazing Stories, Tales from the Crypt, and Batman: The Animated Series.[16] In 1989, he starred in the short-lived CBS sitcom The People Next Door, as a cartoonist whose imagination could make things come to life.[8] His most prominent television role is that of newspaper publisher A.W. Merrick on the acclaimed HBO series Deadwood (2004–2006).[17] Along with the show's ensemble cast, Jones was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.[18]

Later career[edit]

With ongoing legal troubles,[19] Jones became 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 had an uncredited appearance as Collier's editor Charles Colebaugh in the Emmy-nominated HBO original film Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012). His most recent role is that of scientist Gladstone in the disaster film 10.0 Earthquake (2014).

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.[20][21]

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][22] whose mother was Lloy Coutts (1941–2008). Coutts was a respected Canadian voice coach. She and Jones met in Stratford, Ontario.[23]

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.[24] Jones pleaded no contest to a felony charge. 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.[25] He has been arrested twice for failing to update his sex offender status, both in Florida (2004)[26] and in California (2010).[27] Prior to his 2010 court appearance, Jones was publicly approached by TMZ and spoke briefly.[28]


Following his sentencing,[29] Jones has continued to appear in public and at entertainment industry events. He was photographed with Beetlejuice co-star Winona Ryder at the opening of the 2011 "Tim Burton at LACMA" exhibit[30][31] and signed autographs for Internet personality "Mike the Fanboy" in 2015.[32] In July 2016, Jones posed with Justin Bieber for a photo that was shared to Bieber's Instagram; the post (captioned "Ferris buellers day off") was later deleted.[33]



Year Title Role Notes
1970 The Revolutionary[34]
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 1 episode, miniseries
1986 George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation Thomas Jefferson TV film
1986 Fresno Mr. Acme 2 episodes, miniseries
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
1995 Batman: The Animated Series Nivens / Vinnie 1 episode
1995 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Nurse / Man in White 1 episode
1995 The Avenging Angel Brother Milton Long TV film
1996 Eek! The Cat Sloth 1 episode
1998 The Outer Limits Dr. Scott Perkins 1 episode
2001 Till Dad Do Us Part Brady TV film
2001–2006 Invader Zim Various roles 4 episodes
2002 The Zeta Project Detective Marcus 1 episode
2002 Justice League Sir Swami 2 episodes
2004–2006 Deadwood A. W. Merrick 35 episodes
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Charles Colebaugh Uncredited, TV film

Other works[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1995 ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter L.C. Clench Theme park attraction
1998 Fallout 2 Dick Richardson Video game


  1. ^ a b "Így néznek ki most az idén harmincéves Meglógtam a Ferrarival sztárjai". NLCafe (in Hungarian). May 16, 2016. Retrieved 2017-10-13. 
  2. ^ "Jeffrey Jones". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "AW Merrick played by Jeffrey Jones". HBO. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "Jeffrey Jones". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "13TH ANNUAL SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS® NOMINATIONS". Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Shindler, Merrill (September 1989), "Keeping Up with the Jones", Los Angeles Magazine, The Monthly Guide—Films, Los Angeles Times: 189–192 
  7. ^ Bowman, Alex G. "Jeffrey Jones Biography". IMDb. 
  8. ^ a b c Armstrong, Derek (17 January 2014). "Movies & TV—Jeffrey Jones". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  9. ^ Berardinelli, James (2003). "Amadeus". Reelviews. 
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (September 19, 1984). "'Amadeus,' Directed by Forman". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  11. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1985". Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  12. ^ Julie, Marikar (2 July 2010). "The Cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off—Where Are They Now?". ABC News. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  13. ^ Darnton, Nina (June 11, 1986). "Ferris Bueller s Day Off (1986)—Screen: a Youth's Day Off". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  14. ^ Editors. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off—Teen comedy with a brain". Empire. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (March 30, 1988). "Beetlejuice (1988)—Review/Film; Ghosts And Extra Eyeballs". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  16. ^ Editors. "Jeffrey Jones". Filmography. IMDb. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  17. ^ Editors. "Deadwood". Television. New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  18. ^ "The 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  19. ^ "'Ferris Bueller' actor faces felony charge". Today. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  20. ^ "Jeffrey Jones Biography". Film
  21. ^ "Jeffrey Jones". Yahoo! Movies.
  22. ^ "Who is Julian Coutts?". Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  23. ^ Editors (5 July 2008). "Lloy Coutts". Toronto Globe and Mail. Deaths. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  24. ^ Susman, Gary (November 1, 2002). "Actor Jeffrey Jones is busted on child porn charges". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  25. ^ Wenn (July 9, 2003). "Jeffrey Jones Pleads No Contest To Porn Charges". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 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." 
  26. ^ "'Ferris Bueller' actor faces felony charge". June 30, 2010.
  27. ^ Black, Caroline (September 29, 2010). "Jeffrey Jones Guilty: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" Actor Didn't Update Sex Offender Status". CBS News. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  28. ^ "Principal Rooney -- Not Sweatin' Sex Offender Case". TMZ. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  29. ^ ""Ferris Bueller" actor sentenced in sex offender case". Reuters. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  30. ^ "Tim Burton". Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  31. ^ Gilman, Alex. "Tim Burton LACMA Exhibit Opens With Celebrity Guests, Rock Music, Requisite Creepiness". Guest of a Guest. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  32. ^ "Jeffrey Jones signing autographs 2015 now ken lerner 7". Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  33. ^ Flint, Hanna. "Justin Bieber took a photo with Ferris Beuller's Day Off star Jeffrey Jones (AKA a registered sex offender)". Metro. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  34. ^ "Jeffrey Jones biography". Tribute. Tribute Entertainment Media Group. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 

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