Jeffrey Jones is an American character actor best known for his roles as Emperor Joseph II in the 1984 feature film Amadeus, and as publisher A.W. Merrick in the television western series Deadwood, from 2004-2006.
He is also known for his role as school principal Edward R. Rooney in the 1986 John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Jones was born in Buffalo, New York to Douglas Bennett Jones, who died when he was young, and Ruth, who urged Jones towards a career in acting.
Jones went to London in 1969 to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, following that up with a three-year stint with the Stratford Theatre in Stratford, Ontario.
He began acting in small parts in film and TV in the late '70s. A supporting role in the 1983 Rodney Dangerfield film Easy Money, and a guest shot on Remington Steele led to his replacing Ian Richardson in Forman’s 1984 adaptation of the Peter Shaffer play Amadeus.
Jones’ performance in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off made him a cultural icon. Rooney, self-important and obsessed with catching the chronically truant Ferris Bueller, became a symbol of stuffed-shirt pomposity and authoritarian hatefulness.
Jones has proven to be a favourite of director Tim Burton’s, starring in Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, and Sleepy Hollow, and has also appeared in such prominent films as The Hunt for Red October, Howard the Duck, Houseguest, The Devil’s Advocate, and Stuart Little.
Jones also had a key role in The Pest, a comedy starring John Leguizamo, as the evil German trying to hunt Pestario "Pest" Vargas.
Jones has guested on a number of television shows, including Amazing Stories, Tales from the Crypt, and Trailer Park Boys.
In 1989, he starred in Wes Craven’s short-lived CBS sitcom The People Next Door, in which he played a cartoonist whose imagination could make things come to life.
He also played the role of newspaper publisher A. W. Merrick on HBO’s highly acclaimed western series Deadwood. In 2007 he appeared in the feature film Who's Your Caddy.
In 2003, Jones was arrested for possession of child pornography and employing a 14-year-old boy to pose for pornographic photographs. He pled no contest to the felony charges and was ordered to undergo counseling and register as a sex offender.
In July 2004, he was arrested by Florida police after failing to notify them of his change of residence as required under Megan’s Law. He has since been sued in civil court by the minor, who is now an adult.