Meet the 2016 Tony Awards Nominees: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

This incredible group of intense actors have given us some of the most explosive performances this season. Accessing a huge range of emotions, they somehow manage to make even the most unlikable characters relatable in some way.

Today's Spotlight: Best Performance by an

Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Meet Gabriel Byrne

Long Day's Journey Into Night (James Tyrone)

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland

Training: University College Dublin (archaeology and linguistics)

Big Break: Starting his career with the Focus Theatre and London's Royal Court Theatre in 1979, he rose to prominence in Ireland for his work on the Irish soap opera The Riordans. You may recognize him from his Golden Globe-winning work in HBO's In Treatment (2008-2011) or from one of his over 35 films including In the Name of the Father (1993) or The Usual Suspects (1995).

Fun Fact: He didn't become an actor until his 30s! He studied at the seminary and planned on becoming a priest and changed course to teach Gaelic and Spanish literature in his 20s. He didn't start getting interested in acting until his students came up to him one day and asked him to start a drama club! How cool!

Meet Jeff Daniels

Blackbird (Ray)

Hometown: Chelsea, Michigan

Training: Central Michigan University

Big Break: A film, TV, and stage actor, Jeff made his film debut in Ragtime (1981) and is best known for his work in Terms of Endermeant (1983), Something Wild (1986), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Pleasantville (1998), The Squid and the Whale (2005), Steve Jobs (2015), and most recently, in The Divergent series (2016). On TV, he is an Emmy Award winner for his work in The Newsroom (2012-2014). He made his Broadway debut as an understudy in Gemini (1981) and appeared most recently on Broadway in God of Carnage (2009). He reprises the role of Ray after originating the role Off Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2007. This is his first Tony Award nomination.

Fun Fact: Jeff is also a skilled musician and songwriter and has written over 400 songs and played over 300 gigs across the country. He also is the founder of the Purple Rose Theatre Company.