WATCH: "1776" star William Daniels opens up about performing for Richard Nixon, meeting "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda

In becoming John Adams in "1776," Daniels acted first and asked questions later


Jeremy Binckes
March 13, 2017 7:30PM (UTC)
This Salon video was produced by Peter Cooper

William Daniels, a star of "1776" and an actor known for his roles on "St. Elsewhere," "Knight Rider" and "Boy Meets World" among other productions, won't say he's a believer in method acting. As the two-time Emmy Award winner told Salon Talks — joined by his wife, fellow two-time Emmy winner Bonnie Bartlett — he didn't even do background research about John Adams before bringing the Founding Father to life.

"I didn't do any research," Daniels said. "There was the challenge of what was in the script. That's what I had to do. If I went and read books on it, there would be information that I don't need because I have to answer the problems that are in the script to make it believable and understandable."

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He eventually learned more about Adams — but that was after he played the part for a while.

"After I started and went on for two years, people sent me books," Daniels said. "I started reading them. But that's beside the point. Your problem is what the script is and what it offers you.:

Playing a Founding Father is something that Daniels shares with "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, whom he met for a one-on-one summit of actors.

"He's a Feeny fan," Bartlett said about Miranda. Bartlett said she believed the humanity of the Founding Fathers was something that made both "Hamilton" and "1776" powerful pieces of work.

"In Lee Strasberg's work, that was what they always looked for to get people into the studio," she said. "They looked for your humanity and what shows through. That's part of the success of 'Hamilton' and Lin-Manuel — is this totally different kind of humanity that we see. That whole show is totally different."

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Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Hamilton Lin Manuel Miranda Original Video Richard Nixon William Daniels

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