Interview: John Francis Daley of ‘Bones’ Opens the CineYouth Festival in Chicago

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CHICAGO – The annual CineYouth Festival in Chicago opened on May 9th with a very special guest – John Francis Daley – who is an actor (“Bones,” “Freaks and Geeks”) screenwriter (“Horrible Bosses”) and director. The CineYouth Festival is May 9th-11th and is presented by the Chicago International Film Festival.

John Francis Daley was born in Wheeling, Illinois, but grew up backstage while his father, R.F. Daley, performed on Broadway. His first break came at nine years old when he joined the touring company in the stage version of “Tommy.” In 1999, he played the role of Sam Weir in the formidable cast of “Freaks and Geeks,” which included future stars James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segal. After doing stints on “The Geena Davis Show” (2000-01) and “Kitchen Confidential” (2005-06), he landed the role of Dr. Lance Sweets on the long-running “Bones.”

John Francis Daley
John Francis Daly at the CineYouth Festival in Chicago, May 9th, 2013
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

Daley has also directed a couple of notable short films, and is also known for co-writing – with his partner Jonathan Goldstein – screenplays for the films “Horrible Bosses (2011) and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (2013). talked to John Francis Daley during a red carpet event at the opening of the CineYouth Festival, which presents short films by filmmakers who are under 21 years of age. The festival runs through Saturday, May 11th (details below the interview). ‘Freaks and Geeks’ seems to be your generation’s ‘St. Elsewhere,’ in that it featured so many future movie stars. What do you attribute to that atmosphere that seemed to launch so many careers?

John Francis Daley: It was a naturalistic style of acting, and a testament to the casting. That credit goes to casting director Allison Jones, and the show creators Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, who had a great eye for young talent. It was a combination of those things that made the show what it was. At what point in your early performing career did you know, that despite the odds and difficulties, that you would become an actor to make your living?

Daley: It really was the only thing I wanted to do with my life – acting, writing and directing. It was an easy choice for me from the get go. And what was your first paying gig as an actor?

Daley: I was the young Tommy in the national touring company of the stage version of The Who’s ‘Tommy,’ the rock opera. I didn’t know who ‘The Who’ was when I began, since I was only nine years old, but quickly got on board. It was a great show, it was good to be a part of it. What do you attribute to the popularity of your long-running drama, ‘Bones’? Why do you think audiences continue to be fascinated with these type of shows?

John Francis Daley
Another view of John Francis Daley
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

Daley: Procedurals are very appealing to a lot of people, there is a certain level of comfort in knowing a mystery will be solved by the end. ‘Bones’ does a good job of keeping it fresh and quirky, as opposed to some of the shows that just keep threading on the same territory. We push the envelope in certain ways, and the production team doesn’t take themselves that seriously with the show. Did you have any input when they cast your screenplay of ‘Horrible Bosses’?

Daley: No, we had a couple people in mind, but in no way were we that ambitious to think we’d get that kind of cast. It was far beyond our expectations. It was our first film to be produced, and to have that cast do it felt like a dream. As a director of a couple notable short films, did you do any tributes to other directors that you admire within those films?

Daley: Probably subconsciously. [laughs] I loved Steven Spielberg growing up, and a big fan currently of David Fincher and the Coen Brothers. Bits and pieces of all those styles rub off in my work. Finally, why is it important to you to support events like the CineYouth Festival?

Daley: This is where it all starts. I wish that I had a forum like this when I was a kid, at which people would have paid attention to my short films. It’s a testament to the faith in the film medium, and the fact that young people can get their start in festivals like this.

The CineYouth Festival is presented by the Chicago International Film Festival and Cinema/Chicago, running from May 9th-11th, 2013. Click here for details and information. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2013 Patrick McDonald,

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