To most a family business is a garage or diner or organized crime. For the Daniels family, that business is comedy and at the ripe old age of five, Chester made his big debut. At the time he had no idea of the path his life might take. Yet over the years he always came back to the business he first discovered as a child, whether he was acting, writing or working Kraft Services. Even though he had his ups and downs with dedication for the profession and parental motivation, his perspective remains the same. It's who he is and what he loves. It makes him happy.
Chester's earliest memories are about writing. He was born on October 1, 1978 in Pasadena, CA to Sela and Frank Daniels, writers. His mother wrote freelance for the prestigious Tiget Beat Magazine until 1995 while his father stuck with comedy as his forte. By then his resume already included such sitcoms as All In The Family, The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP In Cincinnati and Maude as a hired comedy gun for CBS. Yet Daniels always felt undervalued at the studio and was considering moving to his wife's native New York City, when an opportunity of a lifetime came along. In '81, NBC execs sniped Frank, landing him a writing gig for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Later he would climb the ranks to their senior writing staff before the show would end. The new job invigorated the Daniels family, and unknowingly cemented their place in Southern California for the next decade as well as Chester's role in the entertainment industry as a whole.
Despite slowly forming family and marital problems due to his long hours, Frank relished in his new job. At the time, everything seemed great. In a very short span, Sela gave birth to three more children: Nicolette, Abigail and Nathan. This rounded the brood to five with their oldest Frank Jr, two years Chester's senior. While her husband rubbed elbows with the stars, Sela rubbed elbow grease in a constantly messy house. She was beginning to feel like the forgotten wife, left to raise five children on her own. Motherhood seemed hard enough with just one, but five was maddening. Forced to focus her time as a stay-at-home mom in the 80s Woman's Wold, she was determined to maintain some semblence of the career she'd dreamed of as a teenager and wrote freelance. Trying to balance it all nearly drained her completely, but the work ethic she projected never left her children -- especially her second son who in 1984 would set the wheels in motion to forever change the family landscape.
In the beginning Sela truly believed the disjointed lifestyle was temporary. Chester, however, was like most kids and never found an issue in how he was raised. He was accustomed to last minute dinners with someone like Ted Danson or Tony Danza. Frank had a bad habit of making friends with everyone he met, a trait Chester would share as an adult. Even if the boy had no idea who their dinner guests were, Chester loved the excitement. He always preferred the company of adults and would stay up well past his bedtime as everyone drank wine, smoked cigarettes and laughed for hours. He loved hearing people laugh and frequently fell into the role of little entertainer just to keep it going. It was really just another one of those moments when Chester first met Mr. Carson. As a way to ease the pressure at home, Frank had begun taking the boys to work a few days a week during the summer of '84. Frankie loved the arcade games that didn't take quarters, while Chester loved performing his comedy bits for his father's colleagues. One day Johnny came in while the staff was supposed to be hard at work. Frank apologized profusely, making up a family emergency to explain his son's presence and said it would never happen again. The TV host, however, was so impressed he insisted the boy come on the show in the coming week to tell his jokes. Almost over night, Chester turned int a pint-sized sensation.
His parents could have been more supportive. His dad was the most enthusiastic about his son's budding career while his mom took a more logical approach, enrolling him in acting classes as a 'fun activity.' It didn't take long to land his first role in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Sure it was only a couple of days on set, but Chester loves every minute of it. He continued appearing on TV and became the late night gimmick. In a way it all seemed normal. His mom would pick Frankie up from basketball and Chester from the NBC lot. In this environment, he learned about comedy, writing and timing. Slowly the acting classes began to prove more successful as well as Chester's career grew as well as his relationship with his father. They did nearly everything together, sharing a bond none of his other siblings could.
In 1990 Chester was cast as the younger brother on a new Nickelodeon series called Clarissa Explains It All. The job came with two catches: Red hair and a move to Florida. With pressure from Chester's agent to take the job, the Daniels family began to split. Frank had begun writing for other NBC sitcoms in the 80s, most noteably a permanent gig on Cheers, and chose to stay in Los Angeles while Sela and the kids moved to Orlando. Even though his parents' marriage was crumbling, Chester found the decision to be great for everyone, logical even. The would all just split their time between both cities. After all, they had a star in their midst. What Chester didn't realize was the bad side of the business he was on the verge of experiencing. He'd been working with Bill Murray, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman. How could anything go wrong?
School was hell. He hadn't anticipated the ridicule he would receive from other students as he played the nerdy Ferg Face on a children's sitcom. His ego began to deflate and he wondered if this business was right for him. Then in 1994, when Clarissa ended, Chester's career came to a standstill. Sensing it was time for another change -- a big change -- Sela moved the family to her home of New York City. Frank, however, was finding it harder and harder to leave his new job as a head writer for Frasier to come visit the family in Manhattan. The friendship that once existed between Chester and his father was slowly beginning to show cracks. After transferring, he was enjoying the anonymity of a huge public school and swore he was done with the business for good. This plan lasted only a short while as he excelled in creative writing classes and switched to a performing arts school his senior year. He found a new love for comedy as he wrote for the state, creating hilarious one-acts for his drama class and even a satirical stop-action about Janet Reno that has never seen the light of day. It didn't take long for the acting bug to strike again, only when he returned to the business it wasn't as welcoming as it had once been.
After high school, Chester studied film at The Tisch School of Arts at NYU. In the beginning, he didn't take college very seriously at all. Most of the time his mind was with his agent in California or in the pants of some girl down the hall.
When he wasn't drinking or smoking, he was auditioning to stage the comeback that never happened. He took on small, forgettable roles or the occasional deeply characterized role where he could let his freak flag fly. Even then, as he nearly failed out of school and found more bumps than most in his personal life, he wrote constantly. After graduating in 2000, only by the grace of God, he moved back to Los Angeles to pursue his career. He'd met Crosby Wells and Julie Allistair a few years prior on Can't Hardly Wait and realized they both had similar dreams to his. Wells, a fellow writer turned director, inspired Chester to get behind the camera and begin making short films. One, titled Peluca eventually turned into a major picture and in 2003, Chester set out work on Napoleon Dynamite.
During this time, the three friends kicked around ideas about making their own work together. The unholy trinity of child actors all measured in at different levels of success and failure from the business. What they mostly had in common was their refusal to believe they couldn't do something. Talk of creating their own series became more serious and in late 2004, using no budget, they shot a pilot for a series titled It's Always Sunny In Hollywood. Not taking no for an answer, they began to shop networks for their show, instead of the other way around.
As much as they believed they could do anything, taking matters into their own hands wasn't easy. Their endurance paid off when FX picked the show up for seven episodes, with minor adjustments. Sunny was moved to Julie's hometown of Philadelphia, and the trio -- now with a fourth member of the gang and a cast -- waited for the inevitable. To them there was no way they'd be allowed to do their show full of comedy rife with social faux pas for more than their first contract. Yet viewers responded, albeit slowly, and their popularity began to increase. The show expanded exponentially with the involvement of Danny DeVito as well as Chester's old friend and co-star, Fred Savage. The three creators brought more of their friends into the mix, keeping the vibe close knit like it had been in the beginning. With the show finding itself, Chester continued in the movie industry. Following Napoleon Dynamite, Daniels made a few more movies, before he and Allistair found themselves writing together more often outside of the show. In 2007 they were contracted to write what they thought would be their biggest hit: Land of the Lost. Little did they know, in 2009, it would be one of their other scripts written years ago, The Hangover, that would be their biggest success to date.
Chester also began dating a girl he'd met in New York during college. Emma Curuso moved to California to pursue acting in the mid 2000s and what started out as an innocent friendship while he mentored her career, blossomed into something serious. Over the years the couple had many high and low points as they broke up and got back together frequently, yet they were also good for one another. Emma made sure he didn't overwork himself while his craeer grew larger than he could imagine. Chester kept her under his wing, protecting, supporting and in some cases literally getting her foot in the door. That support was never more apparent than in 2009 when Emma's father unexpectedly passed. After helping her grieve, and secretly helping her family pay for his funeral costs, he did his best to keep her mind off of things by bringing her along as he and his friends toured the stage show for Sunny. For a time, they were perfect together.
Support alone wasn't enough. Chester was independent by nature and found difficulty in sharing his life with her. After a year of grief and pressure, thoughts and fears boiled into an ultimatum on their future in September of 2010. Either they had one or they didn't. After all, he'd never even asked her to move in after seven years together. In his defense, he never noticed them living apart. Either way, Chester wasn't going to marry her and they broke up for good. Along the way there had been stumbling blocks and bad decisions that brought them back together in the summer of 2011, however now the couple is apart for good.
The Daniels family eventually fractured completely in the late 90s. Chester's parents went through a nasty bi-coastal divorce as both parents tried to lay claim to assets that weren't theirs. His father, now on Gloria his third wife, lives only a mile or two from Chester's Studio City home. After Frasier ended, he found himself without a job for a while and now writes for a CBS sitcom. Their relationship has deteriorated over the years to the point of being a strained and alien. The two men who had once been best friends can barely maintain a normal conversation, other than acting civil over the holidays. Chester says it's because of jealousy while Frank says it's some kind of a grudge. Neither is ready to budge and give the other the upper hand.
Sela still lives in Manhattan, now remarried to Barry Erikson. The two share an adopted son and she writes for a New York news outlet full-time. All of Chester's siblings have remained in the New York area. His younger brother, Nate, eventually joined the family business as well, bringing the two closer together. He now writes for SNL and Chester couldn't be more proud and inspired by his little brother's career. His two sisters and older brother are all married with kids, while Chester maintains he will not be getting married any time soon -- an obvious bump in the road for his personal life.
Despite seeing the toll the family business has had on his personal life, Chester knows it was the right and only path for him. He is never happier than when he is working and he would miss it if he had to go back to selling lumber at a hardware store. Even though he's had problems with relationships, his family and even early promiscuity, he's always drawn into it, and knows it's what he does best. He has had multiple box office flops with a few surprising hits under his belt, and continues to work harder than before to really make a name for himself. With two television series currently on the air -- one with a contract through it's tenth season -- and a few movies coming out at the box office this year, he feels he has never been more blessed. Yet the mounting pressure of his rarely high profile career -- people usually don't know who he is, only what he's done -- has been approaching a fever pitch with recent bad press and scandals. Now that he's single, he seems to bury himself in his work more than ever. The real question is if he'll take time to breathe and truly see his accomplishments for what they are, before he's too old to appreciate them.
In Recent Years
Since 2012 Chester's life has gone througha various ups and downs. While he continued to work very hard on Saturday Night Live and other projects, he could feel his personal life taking a toll. The truth was that he began to really understand why people called that show caustic and destructive. In 2013 he got the opportunity to co-host the Golden Globes with his best friend, Julie Allistair. After that opportunity he started to pursue the idea of working in something similarly on more of a permanent level. Finally he found out that he was being considered to take over Jay Leno's job in the following year. Chester auditioned multiple times, filled in as a guest host of the show and various other shows, and somehow by luck landed the position. He began hosting The Tonight Show in 2014 after the Olympics. Also in 2013 he reconnected with an old flame by way of Leah Coutes. The two hit it off almost immediately and he remembered just why he was so attracted to her to begin with. The two tied the knot in a surprise ceremony for family and friends in November of 2014. However neither his marriage nor having his own TV show can hold a candle to the biggest and most important thing that happened to Chester Daniels in recent years. HE GOT TO WORK ON THE NEW STAR WARS MOVIE!!!