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Buffy The Vampire SlayerDanny Strong - "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" Tv Series - Zap2it.com Interview
Wednesday 1 January 2003, by Webmaster
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - He’s been around since the show’s unaired original pilot, but nebbish and amateur wizard Jonathan of UPN’s "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" — who, as one of the nerd Triad, bedeviled Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) all last season — appears to have finally met his end.
In an episode called "Conversations With Dead People," Jonathan (Danny Strong) was stabbed by cohort Andrew (Tom Lenk), egged on by the First Evil, appearing in the form of the deceased third member of the Triad, evil genius Warren (Adam Busch). The idea was that Jonathan’s blood, spilled on a huge demonic seal in the basement of the rebuilt Sunnydale High, would open a portal and release an ancient vampire (didn’t quite work, though).
If fans were surprised by Jonathan’s sudden demise, so was Strong. "I was actually with Tom and Adam," he says, "and we were in England doing a convention. We had to fly back to L.A. to shoot that episode, so they sent us the scripts. We were riding back to the hotel and reading the scripts together, and I skipped the part where he killed me, because it was a line of action."
"I finished the script, and I turned to Tom and said, ’Tom, this is great. It’s completely open-ended. They’ve got to bring us back for another one.’ And Tom just looked at me and said, ’Did you read this?’ I said, ’What?’ So I went back and read it, and I was like, ’Oh, my God! How could they kill me?’"
"I was a little upset, sure. It was the last thing on my radar, because I’d been on the show so many years, and the joke was with Jonathan for so long is he was the guy who wouldn’t die. But, well, all jokes have to come to an end."
In a later episode, Sunnydale High’s Principal Wood (D.B. Woodside) found Jonathan’s body, dumped it in a deep hole and buried it — an odd experience for Strong.
"That was me," he says. "I just wanted to do it, but because I had to fall in the hole, and it hurt, I didn’t want to do it too many times. David Solomon, who was directing that episode, kept saying, ’So, are you OK, Danny? Is this OK with you?’ But there really wasn’t a choice, because there wasn’t a stunt double there."
"I’m like, ’David, it’s fine, could we just shoot it and go home?’ So that was how it went down."
Also, after being dumped in the hole, Strong had dirt tossed on him. "My eyes were closed," he says. "I kept saying, ’D.B., not the face. America will be upset. Don’t get the face, D.B.’ And he completely understood as a fellow actor, so he avoided the face, and it was fine."
Strong has already made one post-mortem appearance, in the person of the shape-shifting First Evil, this year’s "Big Bad." He reveals that he has more scenes to shoot, but says, "It’s one of the few shows where being killed could be a promotion. I don’t really know if I’m going to be doing that many more, though. I just don’t know."
Meanwhile, Strong is gearing up to audition for pilot season and working on some scripts of his own, both solo and in partnership with screenwriter Michael Bacall ("Bookies" ). He’s also got a writing/directing project, for which he got advice from former "Buffy" castmate Amber Benson.
While doing her role as witch Tara (killed by Warren, incidentally), Benson wrote, directed and starred in a charming romantic comedy called "Chance," which co-starred "Buffy" actor James Marsters, and featured appearances by writer David Fury and "Angel" co-star Andy Hallett.
"I had a long conversation with Amber," Strong says, "because I wrote a short that I want to direct, and she was giving me some advice on raising money. We like Amber."