From in March 26th, 2000:

Danny Strong, Superstar

Buffy's beloved bit player chats with IGN Sci-Fi about rumors, Saved by the Bell, and his upcoming turn in the Slayer's spotlight.


























[Article Archive]

Danny Strong wants to get something on the record right away. "The rumors about me and Sarah Michelle Gellar? Totally unfounded. And me and Alyson Hannigan and Charisma Carpenter? Those are all untrue as well!"

For those of you asking, "Uh...what rumors?" or, perhaps more accurately, "Uh...who's Danny Strong?", allow us to enlighten you. Remember that guy who presented Buffy with her tinsel-encrusted parasol at senior prom? That's Danny. The innocuous partygoer snacking on dip at the Slayer's welcome home soiree? Danny. The guy she saved from himself in "Earshot"? Yup, Danny again.

While he's probably still known to many as "That Guy," Danny's character does have a name (Jonathan) and a fairly extensive online following that refers to him as the "Almighty Recurring One." He's joking about the rumors involving him and the lovely ladies of the Scooby Gang, but Strong is about to be rewarded for his bit player duties. On April 4, Buffy fans will get an hour's worth of Jonathan-related antics when The WB airs "Superstar," an episode in which Strong takes center stage.

"I'm wondering how much I can tell [about the episode]," Strong says conspiratorially. He's chatting with me via phone, and, as with most of the Buffy players, he's cagey about letting plot details slip. "Why don't we say a certain character becomes the biggest superstar in the world..." And would this character be Jonathan? "I'm not saying if he is or not!" Strong laughs. "That's pretty much the extent of it, though. A certain character becomes the biggest superstar in the world, and it just kind of goes from there."

That's OK, Danny, this much we know from reading up on our spoilers (Warning: When we say "spoilers," that means possible spoilers ahead. If you don't want to know, skip this part!): rumor has it that, in the episode, Jonathan has created some kind of alternate reality in which he is indeed the biggest star in the world. Posters heralding his achievements line the streets, people break into song for no apparent reason, and even Buffy's opening credits will be altered to focus on Jonathan. In short, it's a chance for both Strong and his character to shine.

Though he won't get into detail about the episode, Strong will say that he had a blast filming it, and that he's eager to see the finished product. "It's really wild," he says. "And I think it's going to be -- at least, I'm hoping it's going to be -- a pretty memorable episode, 'cause it kind of alters the relationships of all the characters on the show. It's one of those. Where it's a whole different world."

He may be the main attraction in "Superstar," but it's taken a while for Jonathan to achieve equal screen time with the Scooby Gang. Previously, Strong has referred to the character as being akin to Kenny on South Park. "You know how Kenny always dies?" he says. "Maybe less so now that the character has kind of expanded. But before, I always seemed to be in peril of some sort. I was always, like, the random student that was almost about to die. But I never died, so I saw him as the Kenny that just wouldn't die. 'Cause there were many episodes in which I'm on the brink of death, and then something happens. I think was sort of the joke for the producers for a while. You know, there were times in the script where it wasn't even Jonathan, it was just like, 'Random Student gets hit.' And [they would say], 'Oh let's have Danny do it! That'll be funny!'"

Strong's Buffy roots actually reach way back to an appearance in the unaired version of the pilot. He also auditioned for the role of Xander, a part that probably would have been quite different had he ended up with it. "It would've been better, dammit!" he jokes. "I think Nick [Brendon]'s hilarious, actually. Xander, it seems, has evolved so much since the first season. He was kind of like, Buffy's geeky sidekick. But he's not that geeky, I don't think. I don't know. It wouldn't have been like Jonathan. I wouldn't have been playing it like that. It would have been...jeez. It would've just instead of Nick."

Now that we've shot the breeze about Buffy, let's get to the real dirt -- no, it's not those aforementioned faux rumors concerning Strong and Gellar, but rather, his first TV gig. Ready for this? Strong played not one but two -- two! -- characters on Saved by the Bell: The New Class, listed in the Internet Movie Database as "Stanley" and "Noogie." Um...who are these people?

"Stanley was the first episode I did," Strong explains. "And he was like one of those Saved by the Bell nerds that they have, you know those guys? I think that there are these two guys that did a lot of them, and then they had a revolving third guy..." Wait, so he was...the Revolving Nerd? Strong laughs. "I was the third guy once, and then they really liked me from that episode, so then they wrote Noogie for me, who was like the school con man. And I was like this New Yaaaawk type con man, right? And I'd wear this jacket and I'd always sell items out of my jacket. Stuff like that." He laughs again. "Very powerful stuff! So then I did two episodes as Noogie, and I think someone got fired at the last second, one of their revolving third nerds, so they called me and asked if I could come do it. So I did my other episode as the charming young Stanley. That is my Saved by the Bell story." Also, for all of you Screech fans, Strong reveals that Dustin Diamond is a five-time black belt in karate. Who knew?

Strong isn't all Buffy and Revolving Nerds, though. He has also appeared on shows such as Seinfeld and Boy Meets World, movies like Pleasantville (with Buffy boy Marc Blucas) and a wide variety of theater. You can even hear him on the radio, as the rude clerk in the ad. Eventually, Strong would like to write screenplays and direct plays and movies. For now, though, he's got two starring gigs on tap -- I Know What You Screamed Last Summer, a satire of various teen genres, and Spoof, a short that should be making the rounds soon.

And of course, to many, Strong's still That Guy. "I have been [recognized] from time to time," he admits. "More often, 'cause I've done a lot of random shows, [people are] trying to figure out who I am. They're always just like, 'So what have seen you [in]?' And then I'll name a couple of credits, and they haven't seen any of them and I'll feel stupid. 'Seinfeld?' 'No.' 'You haven't seen Seinfeld?!? Alright, you know what, never mind.'"

Don't worry, Danny. You're about to go from bit player to "Superstar" -- we have a feeling that it won't be long before you're denying those rumors for real.

--Sarah Kuhn wishes Danny would star in a theatrical adaptation of Saved by the Bell.