The Actor’s Screenwriter: Danny Strong and the Rise of Next-Wave Nonfiction

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game Change

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So what DID Mr. Strong want to see in movies? Even he wasn’t sure, until watching a performance of David Hare’s Stuff Happens, about the buildup to the Iraq war. The experience was, as they say, a game changer.

Mr. Strong came out of the theater with a conviction that he should be writing about politics. “He came into my office with a plastic toy version of a voting machine,” recalled Len Amato, president of HBO Films. That kind of showmanship and confidence, combined with Mr. Strong’s extensive knowledge on the subject, convinced Mr. Amato to look at the kid’s script, titled Recount. And boy, is he glad he did.

“I can’t say enough amazing things about him,” said Mr. Amato, who is not the only big name to have gambled on Danny Strong only to find himself with a winning horse (or jockey).

“Danny is just one of those true friends,” said Gilmore Girls creator and executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino, who offered Mr. Strong a role in her highly rated Emmy-winning show in 2003 (without an audition, mind you). “It’s amazing that he’s not too big that he’s still accepting my phone calls.’

Mr. Heilemann said it’s no secret that he’d love to work with Mr. Strong and Mr. Roach on HBO’s adaptation of the next book he is co-writing with Mr. Halperin, for which the network has once again optioned the rights, sight unseen.

But perhaps the biggest testament to Danny Strong’s abilities comes from a former video store clerk who worked at the avant-garde rental place in his neighborhood. The “spazzy guy who loved movies” singled out a 9-year-old Mr. Strong to gift with his encyclopedic knowledge of films. It was at this man’s feet that young Danny learned about the ’70s classics of famous directors like Hitchcock and Kazan, where he first saw Chinatown and Prince of the City. When Year of the Dragon came out to his idol’s rave review, 10-year-old Danny Strong got himself kicked out of the R-rated feature three times trying to sneak in to see it.

It got so bad that people started calling Mr. Strong the “little” version of his hero video clerk.
In January after Game Change won its Golden Globes, Mr. Strong went to some post-party event where another award winner was holding court: the former video store clerk.

“‘You people don’t get it, okay?’” Mr. Strong recalled the inimitable Quentin Tarantino yelling at the assembled crowd, from which the Django Unchained director had singled him out. “‘This is Little Quentin, all right? Little Quentin just won a Golden Globe! Okay?’

The Actor’s Screenwriter: Danny Strong and the Rise of Next-Wave Nonfiction