Danny Strong

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Danny Strong
Danny Strong 2013 (cropped).jpg
Strong at the 2013 Peabody awards
Daniel William Strong

(1974-06-06) June 6, 1974 (age 47)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
OccupationActor, film, television writer, director, producer
Years active1994–present
Partner(s)Caitlin Mehner (2013-present; engaged)

Daniel William Strong (born June 6, 1974) is an American actor, film and television writer, director, and producer. As an actor, Strong is best known for his roles as Jonathan Levinson in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doyle McMaster in Gilmore Girls. He also wrote the screenplays for Recount, the HBO adaptation Game Change, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and the two-part finale of The Hunger Games film trilogy, Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay – Part 2. Strong also is a co-creator, executive producer, and writer for the Fox series Empire.

Strong has won two Emmy Awards, two Writers Guild of America Awards, a Producers Guild of America Award, and an NAACP Image Award.

Early life[edit]

Strong grew up in Manhattan Beach, California and attended Mira Costa High School.[1] He was raised in a Jewish family of Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish origin.[2] He began acting at a young age. As a child, Strong rented videos from Video Archives and became friends with Quentin Tarantino, who worked there as a clerk. "I would just literally sit and chat with him for 45 minutes, an hour at a time about movies, and he got me turned on to all these different movies that 10-year-olds don't see."[3] Strong attended Mira Costa High School, and then studied film and theatre at the University of Southern California.[4]



Strong is known for playing Jonathan Levinson on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Paris Geller's boyfriend Doyle McMaster on Gilmore Girls, but he has also appeared in films such as Pleasantville, Dangerous Minds, Seabiscuit, the spoof Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, and was in the film Sydney White as the Grumpy dork, Gurkin. Strong has also had guest parts in sitcoms such as Seinfeld, Clueless, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Over the Top, Grey's Anatomy, Boy Meets World and How I Met Your Mother and has also guest-lectured in acting classes on finding a job as an actor. In the popular AMC series Mad Men he played Danny Siegel, a young man with no talent, trying to break into the advertising industry, later making a career in Hollywood. Strong also appeared on the HBO series Girls in the third and fourth seasons; and appeared on the fifth and sixth seasons of Justified as Albert Fekus, a rapist prison guard. He is currently starring in Billions as Todd Krakow, Secretary of the Treasury. Strong was set to appear in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as Dean Martin.[5] However, his scenes were cut from the film.[6]


At 25, in the hopes of being the lead actor in his own film, Strong wrote a dark comedy about two men who kill an elderly man for his rent-controlled apartment.[7] The film never materialized, but it sparked his desire to become a full-time writer.[7] His first successful script was Recount, a film about the 2000 US Elections, produced by HBO and directed by Jay Roach.[8] The film starred Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, Denis Leary, John Hurt and Tom Wilkinson and premiered on May 25, 2008.[9] The script had been voted number one on the 2007 Hollywood Black List,[10] a list of the "most liked" but unproduced scripts as voted on by the Hollywood community and insiders.[11] Strong was nominated for a 2008 Emmy Award for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special for Recount. The film was nominated for Best Television Miniseries or Film at the 66th Golden Globe Awards and won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie as well as the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay for a Television movie.[12]

Strong followed up Recount with the 2012 film adaptation of Game Change, based on the book written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.[13] The film starred Julianne Moore and aired on HBO on March 10, 2012.[14] In 2012, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special for Game Change.[15] The film was also awarded a Peabody Award, which recognizes distinguished and meritorious public service by radio and television stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals.[16]

In February 2012, he was hired to write the screenplay for the film adaptation of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, whose production has been stalled since 2013.[17][18]

Strong wrote the screenplay for the film The Butler.[19] Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker starred in the film and it was directed by Lee Daniels.[20] The script was voted on to the 2010 Hollywood Black List.[21] It was released in August 2013 and grossed over $100 million in the US box office.[22] He also had a cameo in the film.

I write characters of every race, gender and sexual orientation. I write some characters that are animals. That's just my job. To me, writing 'Empire' is not more difficult than Sarah Palin [in 'Game Change']. ... I mean, I'm not a Republican from Alaska.

Danny Strong, Huff Post interview, June 2015[7]

In December 2013, Strong signed on to pen the new screenplay for the film adaptation of the musical Guys and Dolls, which originally premiered on Broadway in 1950.[23]

Strong also co-created the TV series Empire with Daniels in 2014, for which he has written and directed multiple episodes.[24]

Strong co-wrote the two-part Mockingjay, the finale of The Hunger Games series.[25] Part 1 was released on November 21, 2014, and Part 2 was released on November 20, 2015.[26][27]


Strong made his directorial debut with the biographical film on the life of author J. D. Salinger, Rebel in the Rye.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Strong got engaged to actress Caitlin Mehner on December 29, 2016 in Hawaii after meeting her three years earlier.[29]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2016 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Drama Series Empire Won
2016 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series Empire Nominated
2016 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Drama Series Empire Nominated
2016 Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series - Drama Empire Nominated
2015 TCA Awards Program of the Year Empire Won
2015 AFI Award Television Program of the Year Empire Won
2014 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Lee Daniels’ The Butler Nominated
2014 Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square Recognizing a contemporary storyteller whose work has had a significant impact on the public dialogue. Game Change, Recount, Lee Daniels’ The Butler Won
2013 Golden Globe Awards Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Game Change Won
2013 Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television Game Change Won
2013 Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form - Adapted Game Change Won
2013 PEN Center USA Awards Best Teleplay Game Change Won
2012 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries or Movie Game Change Won
2012 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special Game Change Won
2012 American Film Institute Top 10 TV Program of the Year Game Change Won
2009 Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form - Original Recount Won
2008 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special Recount Nominated
2008 American Film Institute Top 10 TV Program of the Year Recount Won


  1. ^ "Hall Of Fame | Mira Costa High School Alumni". miracostaalumni.com. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  2. ^ Jewish Journal: "The Jewish writer and actor who’s 'the voice of black America'" by Curt Schleier September 11, 2015
  3. ^ "Filmforce.ign.com". IGN. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  4. ^ "The Official Danny Strong Website". Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Galuppo, Mia (August 27, 2018). "Danny Strong, Sydney Sweeney Join 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  6. ^ Thompson, Anne (May 22, 2019). "'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Delivers a Mega Movie Star Bromance: Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt". IndieWire. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Duca, Lauren (June 10, 2015), "How Doyle From 'Gilmore Girls' Came Up With The Idea For 'Empire'", Huff Post.
  8. ^ Flynn, Gillian (May 16, 2008). "TV Review: Recount". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  9. ^ Fickett, Travis (May 22, 2008). "Danny Strong on Writing the Recount". Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  10. ^ Finke, Nikki (December 7, 2007). "Black List 2007's Best Liked Screenplays". Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  11. ^ Sperling, Nicole (December 13, 2011). "A "Black List" that's a career boost". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  12. ^ Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
  13. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (March 10, 2011). "The TV Column: HBO announces new McCain/Palin film, 'Game Change'". The Washington Post.
  14. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 12, 2012). "HBO Schedules "Veep," "Game Change"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  15. ^ Primetime Emmy Awards nominations for 2012 - Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
  16. ^ "Peabody Awards Winner Database". Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  17. ^ New Writer For The Lost Symbol | Movie News | Empire
  18. ^ "UPDATE: Tom Hanks And Ron Howard To Return For Next Dan Brown Movie 'Inferno'; Sony Sets December 2015 Release Date". Deadline. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  19. ^ DODES, RACHEL August 9, 2013, "All the Butler's Presidents". Wall Street Journal. 262 (34):D5
  20. ^ "INTERVIEW: The Cast Of 'The Butler' Speak On Authenticity, Civil Rights & More". August 5, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  21. ^ Finke, Nikki (December 13, 2010). "The Black List 2010: Screenplay Roster". Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  22. ^ McClintock, Pamela (September 15, 2013). "Box Office Milestone: Lee Daniels' The Butler Hits $100 Million". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  23. ^ Champion, Lindsay. "It's Good Old Reliable Danny Strong! Hunger Games Screenwriter to Pen Guys & Dolls Movie Reboot". Broadway.com. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  24. ^ Gilman, Greg (March 4, 2015). "'Empire' Co-Creator Disputes Mo'Nique's Claim She Was Offered Taraji P. Henson's Breakout Cookie Roler".
  25. ^ Busis, Hillary (December 6, 2012). "Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): 'Game Change' (and 'Mockingjay') writer Danny Strong on his biggest year". Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  26. ^ The Deadline Team (July 10, 2012). "Lionsgate Dates 'Hunger Game' Finale: 2-Part 'Mockingjay'". Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  27. ^ "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, first trailer". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  28. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Ford, Rebecca (April 29, 2014). "Danny Strong Making Directorial Debut With Biopic 'Salinger's War' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  29. ^ Mizoguchi, Karen (December 30, 2016). "Gilmore Girls Star Danny Strong Engaged to Girlfriend Caitlin Mehner". People. Retrieved October 19, 2016.

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