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Jeffrey Jones

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

Jeffrey Duncan Jones (born September 28, 1946) is an American actor best known for his roles as Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Charles Deetz in Beetlejuice.[1] Jones' career started in Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, advanced to London and Broadway, before leading to a series of character acting roles in film and television, which often capitalized on Jones' deadpan delivery of characters in unusual situations to comic effect.


  • Early career 1
  • Film and television career 2
    • Amadeus 2.1
    • Ferris Bueller's Day Off 2.2
    • Beetlejuice 2.3
    • Other films 2.4
    • Television roles 2.5
  • Personal life 3
  • Arrests 4
  • Filmography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early career

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 Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[2] 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.[3]

His stage career included more than 125 productions, starting with the Guthrie Theater, then internationally in South America, Canada, and London,[1] 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.[2]

Film and television career

Jones in the role of Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus

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.[2] 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[1]


Jones' roles in the 1983 film Easy Money and Remington Steele led Miloš Forman to cast Jones as Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, the 1984 adaptation of the Peter Shaffer Amadeus. Jones portrays the Emperor "as a superficial and self-absorbed ruler who can't tell the difference between a great opera and a mediocre one", according to one reviewer.[4] 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".[5] He received a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for his performance.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Jones in the role of Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Jones' performance as Edward R. Rooney in the 1986 film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, made him a cultural icon.[2][6] 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).[7] Jones expressed concern about being remembered more for this role than his Emperor Joseph II in 1984's Amadeus. He said of the movie'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."[8]


Jones with Catherine O'Hara in Beetlejuice.

In the movie, Beetlejuice, Jones played a supporting role, along with Catherine O'Hara, as 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 the Banana Boat song (Day-O).[9] Jones went on to act in other films by director Tim Burton, including Ed Wood in the role of The Amazing Criswell, and in the film, Sleepy Hollow.

Other films

Jones also appeared in The Hanoi Hilton, The Hunt for Red October, Howard the Duck, Houseguest, The Crucible, The Devil’s Advocate, and Stuart Little. In 1999 he co-starred with Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, and David Arquette in the cannibal western Ravenous, and played Inspector Lestrade in Without a Clue. Jones appeared in the comedy film The Pest, as the evil German trying to hunt Pestario "Pest" Vargas. Other key roles include Mr. Spike in Stay Tuned and Dick Nelson in the 1992 comedy Mom and Dad Save the World.[1]

Television roles

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 Wayside.[10] 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.[1] He also appeared as newspaper publisher A. W. Merrick on the highly acclaimed HBO series Deadwood.[11]

Personal life

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' childhood.[12][13]

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.[2]

Jones has one son, actor Julian Coutts,[14] whose mother was Lloy Coutts (1941–2008). Coutts was a respected Canadian voice coach. She and Jones met in Stratford, Ontario.[15]


Jones upon his May, 2005 arrest in Florida for failure to register as a sex offender.

In 2003, Jones was arrested for possession of child pornography and accused of soliciting a 14-year-old boy to pose for pornographic photographs. Jones pleaded no contest to a felony charge.[16][17] His punishment was five years probation, counseling and the requirement to register as a sex offender. Jones and the aggrieved boy settled in Los Angeles Superior Court for damages related to this matter in 2004. In 2010, he was arrested twice for failing to update his sex offender status, both in Florida[18] and in California.[19]


Year Title Role
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 Howard the Duck Dr. Walter Jenning / Dark Overlord
1986 Ferris Bueller's Day Off Edward R. Rooney
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
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
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


  1. ^ a b c d e Armstrong, Derek (17 January 2014). "Movies & TV—Jeffrey Jones". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  2. ^ 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 
  3. ^ Bowman, Alex G. "Jeffrey Jones Biography". IMDb. 
  4. ^ Berardinelli, James (2014). "Amadeus". Reelviews. 
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Julie, Marikar (2 July 2010). —Where Are They Now?"Ferris Bueller's Day Off"The Cast of . ABC News. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  7. ^ Darnton, Nina (June 11, 1986). "Ferris Bueller s Day Off (1986)—Screen: a Youth's Day Off". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  8. ^ Editors. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off—Teen comedy with a brain". Empire. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  9. ^ Maslin, Janet (March 30, 1988). "Beetlejuice (1988)—Review/Film; Ghosts And Extra Eyeballs". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  10. ^ Editors. "Jeffrey Jones". Filmography. IMDb. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  11. ^ Editors. "Deadwood". Television. New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  12. ^ "Jeffrey Jones Biography". Film
  13. ^ "Jeffrey Jones". Yahoo! Movies.
  14. ^ "Who is Julian Coutts?". Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  15. ^ Editors (5 July 2008). "Lloy Coutts". Toronto Globe and Mail. Deaths. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  16. ^ "Jeffrey Jones Busted: 'Ferris Bueller' Actor Faces Felony Charge For Sex Offense". Huffington Post. June 30, 2010.
  17. ^ "Jeffrey Jones Pleads No Contest to Porn Charges". September 7, 2003.
  18. ^ "'Ferris Bueller' actor faces felony charge". June 30, 2010.
  19. ^ 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. 

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