The Daley Show by Emma Brown (Interview Magazine-August 2012)

Photographs:  Mitchell Nguyen McCormack


If you were involved in the 1999 show Freaks and Geeks, chances are that you’re doing pretty well these days. CreatorPaul Feig and writer-director Judd Apatow are now household names, as are actors Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and, of course, James Franco. Busy Philipps is busy on the showCougar TownLinda Cardellini just finished ER and is making indie films, and Martin Starr seems to pop up everywhere, from last week’s episode of New Girl to Apatow films. John Francis Daley, who played the 14-year-old, 90-pound Sam Weir, is no exception. Daley’s grown a lot sinceFreaks—both physically (he’s really tall) and career-wise. Not only is Daley a regular cast member of the surprisingly popular TV show Bones, he is also writing movies with casts that include Kevin Spacey, Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Buscemi. Not too shabby for a former shrimp.  

 caught Daley in between filming Bones and a meeting for his directorial debut, a remake of the 1983 John Hughes/Chevy Chase film Vacation, to discuss Ace Ventura, writing scripts in crayon, and his myriad projects.EMMA BROWN: Hi John, it’s Emma.


BROWN: I hear you have a writer’s meeting right after this, what’s that for?

DALEY: It is for Vacation, it’s the first meeting. We’re directing it as well, but they want to do some tweaking to the script, to get it to casting and all that. I’m extremely excited.

BROWN: Have you ever directed anything before?

DALEY: This is the first chance for [my writing partner Jonathan] Goldstein and I, this is our first feature. But we’ve done a few shorts together over the years.

BROWN: Are you nervous?

DALEY: Not yet, it’s pretty far from the start date to be nervous, but I’m more excited than anything else. This is something that I’ve wanted to do since I was little; literally since I was seven years old, I’ve been directing things and ordering friends around to be cast members in stupid little short plays and movies.

BROWN: What was the first thing you directed?

DALEY: It was a play, when I was eight years old called Small Evil. I actually think that I wrote the script in crayon. [laughs]

BROWN: Well, you wrote an original script—that’s pretty impressive! When I was eight I was directing my friends in play adaptations of Hocus Pocus and Star Wars, so no originality there.

DALEY: Yeah, but the script was in crayon, so that gives you an idea of the quality there. Though I wouldn’t put it past Quentin Tarantino write something in crayon. [My play] was about a dwarf who lured women back to his place where he would kill them. It’s pretty dark for an eight-year-old, but I thought it was clever the way it was titled Small Evil and was about a dwarf.

BROWN: Good play on words there.

DALEY: The only reason it was a dwarf was so that I could be the lead. It was a very serious thing—the notion of a kid portraying [an adult] character would break the fourth wall, so I had to make him a dwarf to make it understandable that he was a small adult.

BROWN: I was wondering, you’ve obviously grown so much since Freaks and Geeks, do people always say that to you, “Oh my goodness, you’re so tall now”?

DALEY: All the time, they have to be standing on stairs a few steps above me to recognize me. I’ve grown probably about eight inches since Freaks.

BROWN: When did you have your growth spurt?

DALEY: You can actually see it on-screen. [It was] betweenThe Geena Davis Show [2001] and another pilot that no one ever saw . . . so I guess you can’t really see it on-screen. [laughs] It was between the ages of 15 and 16.

BROWN: So how did you get the Vacation directing gig? Did you petition for it, show them your shorts?

DALEY: Well Jonathan and I, after we wrote the script, we decided to try our hand at directing. Even just pitching ourselves to direct, it was a long shot, because they were meeting with established directors that had done features before. But I think we gave them a pretty good pitch on why we have the best vision for the movie and a great lookbook to accompany it. We’ve been with New Line for so long—our first script was The $40,000 Man in 2007, and since then I’ve done probably five features with them, not all produced—that relationship, I think, also helped us. We’re part of the New Line family.

BROWN: Is it frustrating when your scripts don’t actually get produced?

DALEY: No, not really. The first one still hasn’t been produced, The $40,000 Man. I’m just so excited to be a part of the professional screenwriting world. It gained a lot of momentum in the first couple months after we sold it, where we had a director attached at one point, and an actor. So we were just really excited at how quickly everything changed. We got a bunch of meetings following our selling of that script. And it was on The Black List, so it was an honor to be a part of that as well.

BROWN: I’m curious as to how you met your writing partner and how you started working together.

DALEY: We worked together on a show called The Geena Davis Show, which I mentioned before, he was one of the junior staff writers there, and I was an actor. I remember at one point I was playing some short film I had made, some stupid short film, and he mentioned that it was very much like something he had made when he was my age. He brought the film in the next day to show me how similar it was. Since then we realized we had the same sensibility, the same sense of humor, and started to write things together a couple years later and direct small shorts. We were able to collaborate easily together.

BROWN: And every script you’ve done has been with your writing partner?

DALEY: Yeah. He still works independently writing on TV shows, and I still have my acting jobs. Everything in the feature screenwriting world, and now directing, we do together.

BROWN: Jonathan’s quite a bit older than you. Does the age gap show, or do you feel the same age?

DALEY: We only feel different ages when bringing up pop culture references. Otherwise we pretty much feel the same age. He’s married with a kid, and so he’s further along in his personal life. As far as our sense of humor and the thing that we’re attracted to, the types of movies and comedy, we share the same mind.

BROWN: I wanted to ask you about upcoming projects as well. So you’ve finished writing Horrible Bosses 2 and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, is that it?

DALEY: Yeah, we wrote a couple of drafts of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which brings us back to do a bit more work on that. We’re nearly finished writing the first draft ofHorrible Bosses 2. It’s going well, we will bring back the three guys with hopefully a new supporting character to work with them.

BROWN: You had so many great actors in the first Horrible Bosses.

DALEY: Thanks. It was one of those things where, if someone asked [who was in the film], I would feel kind of like a dick [listing them]. There were so many big names. That kind of is the same thing for Burt Wonderstone, this magician movie that we wrote together. It’s going to be finished probably when you publish this. It has an insane cast and so by the end [of listing them], when I’m mentioning Jim Carrey or Alan Arkin, people go from being excited for me to resentful.

BROWN: Did you love Ace Ventura when you were little?

DALEY: I wanted to be Jim Carrey when I was little. He doesn’t know this, but I do the best Jim Carrey impression, and I don’t think he ever will know this unless he readsInterview.

BROWN: I’ll send it to him.

DALEY: Perfect.


BROWN: When all these really exciting actors, like Kevin Spacey, sign up to do your movie, were you surprised? Or just really happy?

DALEY: I was happy and I was also surprised. You know, as a screenwriter and a half-Jew, I tend to look at the glass half-empty.

BROWN: Do you hang out on set and get to know the actors? I know you were in Horrible Bosses, but are you inWonderstone?

DALEY: I have a small cameo in Burt Wonderstone as well. But, I was able to hang out with the cast of both movies. It was one of those things where halfway through hanging out with people like Jim Carrey, I would think to myself “Oh! I’m talking to Jim Carrey right now!” and if nine-year-old me could see me doing this, he would literally crap himself.

BROWN: Freaks and Geeks is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of you, but I suppose more people most know you from your current show, Bones.

DALEY: It depends. If I’m in L.A., I get recognized more forFreaks and Geeks. Same with New York. It’s definitely a coastal show. When I’m anywhere else—Chicago, Colorado, it’s Bones. Or if I’m in Vegas, it’s Bones, because a lot of people that go to Vegas come from the Midwest and I think that Bones is definitely a show that attracts viewers from that part of the country more than it does on the coast.

BROWN: Were you originally a guest actor on Bones?

DALEY: Yeah, they offered me a seven-episode stint on the show. And the second episode in, my manager told me that he guessed I would probably get a regular role on it. And sure enough, I think after we shot the third episode, the offer came in.

BROWN: Do you find yourself getting really into the character and psychoanalyzing your friends in everyday life?

DALEY: I’ve always been the type of person that has told friends, if they’re going through a rough time, I’m always there to talk to. When I’m going through a rough time, [talking to friends] is what keeps me sane.

BROWN: Do people take you more seriously now that you play a psychologist—confuse fiction and reality?

DALEY: Not at all. Even if I played the President, they wouldn’t take me any more seriously.

BROWN: Freaks and Geeks was such a great show to start your career in. Did television feel like a bit of a let down after that?

DALEY: It’s tough to find a show that matches the quality ofFreaks. Even if I wasn’t in the cast, I would say that it was one of the best shows on television and one of the finest ensemble casts. The thing that I love about doing Bones, though, is it’s the first successful show in the sense that a lot of people watch it and continue to watch it. It’s the first show I’ve ever done that’s lasted longer than a season. [The creator, Hart Hanson] really found a niche and is able to speak to a big audience.

BROWN: And you wrote an episode of it, right?

DALEY: Yeah, I co-wrote it with my writing partner. It was the first television script I had ever written. The fact that there’s six acts that you have to fill is really overwhelming. I’m impressed at how they’re able to pump out episodes every week that deal with a completely different way of getting murdered.



‘Horrible Bosses 2’ in the Works With Original Creative Team (Exclusive)

The Hollywood Reporter

12:11 PM PST 1/4/2012 by Borys Kit
New Line Productions

Screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have closed a deal to pen a sequel. Stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis are expected to return.

Get ready for Horrible Bosses 2.

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the screenwriters behind New Line’s surprise workplace comedy hitHorrible Bosses, have closed a deal to pen a sequel.

It is expected that Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis will be back to star in the movie, and the studio is in early talks with helmer Seth Gordon to return to the director’s chair.

PHOTOS: ‘Horrible Bosses’ Premiere Red Carpet

Bosses, released July 8, saw Bateman, Day and Sudeikis as harried workers who, in Strangers on a Train meets Nine to Five fashion, try to off each others’ bosses. Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrelland Kevin Spacey starred as the employers while Jamie Foxxcameoed as a would-be murder adviser.

The movie, made for about $35 million, proved to be a surprise hit, grossing $117 million domestically and $209 million worldwide.

Daley is an actor-turned-writer who appeared in shows such as Freaks & Geeks, Kitchen Confidentialand Bones. Goldstein worked on such TV comedies as The New Adventures of Old Christine and $#*! My Dad Says as a writer-supervising producer.

Bosses was their first teaming and was fruitful; the duo also worked on Burt Wonderstone, New Line’s upcoming comedy starring Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, which will shoot early this year, and a sequel to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for Sony Animation.

Daley and Goldstein are repped by UTA.


Twitter: @Borys_Kit



John Francis Daley on co-writing tonight’s episode of ‘Bones’ and sharing a scene with his dad for the first time. (Awww.)

by  (

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/FOX

You probably didn’t need another reason to watch Bonestonight, but here’s one anyway: The hour, which took Bones and Booth into the world of myths, was penned by none other thanBones cast member John Francis Daley.

In a chat with EW, Daly, whose name also earns a writing credit on Horrible Bosses, out July 8, breaks down his first experience writing an episode of Bones, the “nerve-wracking” scene he shared with his father (who guest stars in the ep), and the season finale of Bones. (Preview: “…they are not renewing my contract.” By the way, I’m totally throwing you off with that snippet.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me how this episode fell into your lap?
JOHN FRANCIS DALEY: [Showrunner] Hart [Hanson] asked if I was interested in writing an episode, and I said, “Of course.” And so when we went to meet with them, Jonathan Goldstein, my writing partner, and I came up with about eight different ideas for worlds to set the episode in. And when we got there, seven of them they had already done, or [they] were doing. That’s the problem with doing an episode of the sixth season of a show — it’s difficult to find something that hasn’t been done on it already. But fortunately, the myth-busting episode was not one that they had done yet, and they were interested. So we were able to use an idea of our own.

How did you come up with this idea?

It’s funny; we had an idea for an animated movie awhile back that would star mythological creatures, like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti and all that. And we didn’t really pursue it for a long time and found out after the fact that [someone] was doing exactly that, an animated movie with those creatures — we missed it. So we still thought that the world of mythological creatures is fun and hasn’t really been tapped into a lot. And I figured out a way to incorporate it into a crime-solving show.

So the episode is about busting myths, but not like Mythbusters, right?
Oh, yeah, and that’s something that might be misconstrued. It’s more things like finding Jesus’s face on a piece of toast — figuring out how that could happen. Or a crying religious statue, or a Yeti, or Bigfoot. It’s a different look on what myth-busting is. [But] I watched the show that you’re talking about for many seasons.

What was it like having to write Sweets, who you’ve — in a way — gotten to know all these years by playing him? Was that weird? Did Jonathan help you with that?
We pretty much did half and half on Sweets’s voice. Obviously, I had been doing the show long enough that I pretty much have my finger on the Sweets’s pulse, but Jonathan has seen many episodes and my scenes in them, so he sort of has an idea of Sweets’s voice as well. But, obviously, that was the easiest voice to write in.

Who was the hardest?
The hardest would have had to be either Angela or Cam, Michaela Conlin’s character or Tamara Taylor’s.

Really? I was expecting you to say Brennan.
Honestly, I don’t know. I think Brennan was actually more easy to write for because we figured out how she says things in the most difficult to understand way. So you kind of keep that in mind when you write for her and you’re generally on point.

You told me previously that you hadn’t wanted to make the episode Sweet-heavy because that felt weird to you. Yet, because Emily and David were filming the spin-off, you had to include yourself a lot more. How is the Brennan-Booth absence dealt with story-wise?
In the original draft, they were going to be in a lot of the interrogation room scenes. And, fortunately, they had started to put Sweets into a lot more of those scenes in the place of Booth, anyway. So it wasn’t that difficult of an adjustment to take them out of those scenes and put Sweets in it. But that is how it became so Sweets-heavy, because all the interrogation room scenes that were supposed to have Booth and Brennan in them now have Sweets.

How is it explained that they’re not there?
It’s never really explained. [Laughs] We have enough scenes with Booth and Brennan riffing on each other and being the ones to solve the crime, for the most part. I don’t think that the fan universe is going to be too upset — at least I hope. I haven’t got any death threats yet.

Don’t worry, I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t like Sweets.
But in moderation. It’s like with any good alcohol: You have too much, and you’ll be sick.

Yeah. Shoot for a happy drunkenness.
I give people a good buzz.

In the episode, is Sweets excited about taking on the interrogation role?
Absolutely. And the best part was, when we were writing it, there was a role in the show that I thought would be great for my dad. There had been talk of bringing him on for an episode for awhile now, and this was fortunately the episode where we got to bring him in. He plays someone I’m interrogating in one of the scenes, which is great. I learned a lot of my technique from him, so it’s a funny bit of trivia there. I look nothing like him. No one will know that he’s my dad until they look at the credits and see “R. F. Daley.” Otherwise, we do not look at all alike. But I do look like the mailman in our hometown, so I don’t understand why that is.

[Laughs] How was filming that scene?

It was kind of nerve-wracking. It was actually one of the most nervous moments I’ve ever had on the show, because I knew that he was probably nervous as well. So I had nerves of my own and sympathy nerves. So it was just double the nerves. But we were able to get through it, and it ended up being a really good scene.

Sympathy nerves? That’s cute.
I have sympathy nerves for everyone. I think it’s the half-Jew in me.

It’s better than Catholic guilt. I have that.
I do as well! Double the shame.

Are there any great Sweets and Daisy moments?
Unfortunately not. In this episode, they wanted to alternate through the interns. So we got Vincent Nigel-Murray, played by Ryan Cartwright, who I think is hilarious. So he’s the intern they’re enlisting to help them with the case in this one. And because it is a pretty comedic episode, I think that he’s great for it. He’s got very good comic timing. That said, obviously, Carla as Daisy is also fantastic and would have been great on the episode as well. But I’m hearing that she’s going to be coming up soon in another episode, so it’s always nice to bond with her.

So in this episode, are we going to learn anything surprising about Sweets?
In this one, it’s pretty much straightforward Sweets. We don’t really explore any of his dark past in this. It would have been interesting, though, if something happened to him with a Yeti back in the day, and he’s still going through the traumatic consequences of that. [Laughs] But no, he’s actually pretty happy in this one. I think there has been talk of exploring more of his childhood in some upcoming episodes, so it’s always nice to change it up a bit and be able to do some dramatic moments as well.

Last time I spoke with Stephen Nathan, he teased a tragedy at the end of the season. Please tell me Sweets is not involved.
I just know that they are not renewing my contract, so I don’t know what that means — I’m kidding. I don’t know. I have no idea. I feel like the cast is usually the last to know if something horrible is going to happen. But my answer is I have no idea.

(Hillary Busis contributed to this report.)