John Francis Daley of "Bones." (Justin Stephens / Fox )
At the age of 13, John Francis Daley launched his acting career playing the socially awkward Sam Weir on cult classic "Freaks and Geeks." A dozen years later, Daley talks about his role as Sweets on Fox's crime drama TV series "Bones," which returned for its seventh season last week, and how he became one of Hollywood's most popular comedy writers, co-writing the recent hit movie "Horrible Bosses."
You starred on "Freaks and Geeks" as a teen. Are there things you learned then that are useful today?
Unlike so many auditions that I had done before where I was directed to act really kid-like and appealing to mainstream audiences, with "Freaks and Geeks" they encouraged me to just be myself and play everything real. That is something that has stayed with me through to where I have gotten more and more comfortable with being myself on-screen.
What are you most excited about for the new season of "Bones"?
The new dynamic with the two leads, Booth [David Boreanaz] and Brennan [Emily Deschanel]. Now that they've "hooked up," it's all about the aftermath and how they are going to address it all. And the fact that I get a gun … mostly the fact that I get a gun.
You've played Sweets on "Bones" since 2007, but you just wrote your first episode of the show this past season. What was that like?
It was the first television script I had ever written that was produced, so it was great to get that satisfaction of writing something, then seeing it hit the screen just a few months later. It's a very different process — the body finds and the world that each episode is set in is a very specific formula that Hart Hanson, the creator, and Stephen Nathan, one of the executive producers, have fine-tuned. It took a minute of getting used to, but it was a lot of fun.
When did you start writing scripts?
I've been writing since I was a little kid — basically the same time I started acting. But the first real project that I wrote was with my writing partner Jonathan Goldstein in 2007. We did "The $40,000 Man," which was a spec that we didn't really take seriously because the premise was so silly: The guy that came before the Six Million Dollar Man. So we were all the more surprised when we found out that New Line wanted to buy it. We had sold four or five projects before we even started working on "Horrible Bosses." But just as an example of how you never know what project is going to go in Hollywood: The last thing that we wrote was the first thing that got made, and that was "Horrible Bosses."