Danny Strong has received two Emmy writing nominations (for HBO’s “Game Change” about Sarah Palin‘s controversial vice presidential bid, and 2008’s “Recount”), but most people recognize him for his role on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
And he has no problem with it.
“People sometimes ask me if it bothers me that I’m primarily known as being Jonathan from ‘Buffy’ even though I’ve written these political HBO movies, ” Strong told Zap2it. My response is always, ‘Are you kidding me?! Being Jonathan from Buffy is the coolest thing I got going!'”
Strong opened up about his experience on Buffy, acting versus writing and why he’s so interested in political themes from the set of civil-rights drama “The Butler.” The all-star cast of his first feature-film screenplay includes Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Vanessa Redgrave, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.
For someone who is primarily recognized by the public as an actor, what does it mean to you to receive two Emmy nominations for your writing?
It’s a wonderful feeling to be nominated or recognized for anything. My writing has definitely become the primary focus of my energy in the last few years, so I’m thrilled to have gotten these nominations.
[Acting] can be a very difficult career emotionally…I [started writing] to get my creative juices flowing without needing to be “chosen” by a director or producer.
I’m happiest when I’m doing something creative. I love being a part of stories and there’s no better way to do than writing or acting. I guess the next step is directing.
How did your original role as Jonathan on “Buffy” evolve from background character to big bad?
My role on “Buffy” started out as one line on the original pilot presentation. Joss Whedon took to the character, so he kept bringing me back from time to time and the role just organically grew. It was a blast being the big bad for a season and I’m still very close friends with Adam Busch and Tom Lenk.
What has inspired you to write about political subjects?
So many of the great plays tie into politics in some way or another and so my earliest experiences as actor was doing politically charged material… I find the world of politics extremely dramatic because the stakes are so high. It also brings out the best and worst in people, which makes for great drama.
What nominated TV series do you watch regularly?
I’m a huge “Mad Men” fan, it might be my favorite show of all time, so being cast on it in Season 4 [as copywriter Danny Siegel] was a dream come true. I also love “Homeland.” Amazing writing and acting. The show is riveting. And I love love love “Boardwalk Empire.” I think it’s a true masterpiece.
The 64th Primetime Emmys air Sept. 23 on ABC.