The Watcher's Web - Danny Strong Feature (May 11th, 2000)
Note from Little Willow: I was more than happy to set up an interview between The Watcher's Web reporter Rob and Danny. Rob sent some excellent questions, Danny matched right up with answers, and WW had it up that very night! This is the serious half of the interview. Read, then continue to the wacky half. . .
DANNY STRONG: ACTOR, WRITER AND 'SUPERSTAR'
INTERVIEWED BY FRAXIS
Very big thanks to Danny for answering these questions with great wit and style and to Little Willow for making it all happen
TWW: It has been written that you initially auditioned for the role of Xander on BTVS. What would have been your take on playing that particular part and, financial considerations aside, do you regret that it wasn’t to be?
DS: Really interesting question, no one has ever asked me this before. I can honestly say that I don't know. I feel like Nick has put his thumb print on the role in such a way that I've never even thought about or wished that I had gotten the part. I think that if I had come close to getting the role, my attitude might be different on the subject, but I didn't even get a callback. I never really think about the parts I don't get, I usually just have hostility over the fact that I wasn't picked. It's not a very mature response, but it's the truth.
TWW: Earshot was a major turning point for the character of Jonathan. Can you relate in any way to the character's state in the episode and what are your feelings on the issue of the episode being held back because of Columbine?
DS: I don't think I have ever been suicidal at the point that Jonathan was at in Earshot, so I can't really say that I could relate to that emotional state. However I have experienced depression (it's called an acting career) so I knew a little bit about the subject. As far as the decision to pull it, I agreed with it. I thought it would have been totally insensitive to air the episode in the same week as Columbine. I still can't believe that Columbine happened.
TWW: There was such a difference between the ‘nerd’ seen prior to Superstar and the charismatic leader of the gang in that show. What are the tricks of the trade in portraying those two radically different personas?
DS: I don't really know. I learn my lines and try to execute the material truthfully and passionately. Neither character is really me, which is too bad as far as the Superstar character goes. I put a lot of my faith in the writing. If the writing is good, then I just need to keep my work as simple as possible and let the story take care of itself.
TWW: Although I imagine Joss Whedon gives little away about the characters’ futures, where would you like to see Jonathan headed during the course of the fifth season. Has he had his finest hour or can you see scope for other things?
DS: I really hope he hasn't had his finest hour, but if that's the case, then it was a hell of an hour. I don't know if I will ever be able to match that episode on a per episode basis, but I would personally hope that Jonathan could be a part of some ongoing storyline. I think that would be a blast. It would also be great if the Superstar alter ego could come back in some way. No one has mentioned anything to me about returning, but they never do, so we will just have to wait and see.
TWW: What is the part you feel you were born to play?
DS: Eugene Morris Jerome in the Brighton Beach trilogy. Neil Simon is second nature for me. I think that his work was in some way very influential on me when I was a kid, because I feel so at ease and in tune with his comic timing. I did "Lost in Yonkers" at Tennesse Rep. and I feel that it was without a doubt my finest work to date. I would also love to play Treplev in "The Seagull", and Phillip in "Orphans". I know that these are all plays, but I'm a theatre boy at heart.
TWW: You have spoofed the horror genre by appearing in the film "I Know What You Screamed Last Summer." Does outright comedy appeal to you more or are you more interested in the mix of styles present in Buffy? Is ‘Buffy’ itself spoofable and would you want to be a part of a film sending up the show?
DS: I like any style that is executed well, however I think I am more partial to a mix of styles than outright comedy. I actual find outright comedies not as funny as dramas with comedic elements. The drama makes the comedy richer. I think that "Erin Brockovich" had more laughs in it than any comedy since "There's something about Mary." Buffy is definitely spoofable, but it wouldn't be nearly as cool as the actual show (and probably not as funny).
TWW: David Boreanaz was a big hit with the fans when he came over to the U.K. recently. Any plans to come and visit Britain over the summer?
DS: I don't have any plans to, but I would love it. No one has invited me - the story of my life. I have never been to London, which I think is embarrassing for a stage actor. I feel like someone is going to show up at my house and tell me that I can't act in anymore plays until I see Big Ben.
TWW: I gather that you have now turned to writing. What sort of projects are you working on in that respect and in what genres?
DS: I finished a screenplay in the vain of "Swingers" and "Rushmore" that is starting to make the rounds. And I just started writing a romantic comedy that is a little bit more mainstream than my first script. My first script is an independent film that I plan on acting in, and the one I'm working on now is going to be more of a studio film. I'm also developing a script with another writer that is going to be a dark thriller in the vain of "Seven". My natural bent is toward comedy, but I like any genre that is well executed. I think that comes from a theatre background where you do Mamet and Moliere in the same weekend.
TWW: Did the ‘Buffy’ cast and crew play along with your ‘Superstar’ status during filming? Did you get the biggest trailer and a director's chair?
DS: Unfortunately no. That would have been great. However, everyone has always treated me fantastically on that show. Marc Blucas let me use his trailer on the days he wasn't shooting - now that's a cool guy. I was hoping that being the Superstar meant that I could get a date with Emma, unfortunately, anytime I got near her, the nerd Jonathan would come out and screw everything up. It's probably for the best, I don't think my girlfriend would've appreciated it (she made me write this last sentence).