CraveOnline: You’re moving into somewhat different territory doing adaptations of major franchise novels. Was Mockingjay already a two-parter when you were hired for that?
Danny Strong: Yes.
So you went into the book thinking of where a part one might end?
I really can’t talk much about it but I’ll tell you that the pre stuff was they were looking for a writer for Mockingjay and they knew it was going to be a two-parter, so part of the pitch that I had to give was how I would write both parts. But I was just hired to write the first part and then after I turned it in, they hired me to write the next part.
Oh, so you might have only been hired for part one.
That’s interesting. So how different is the world of doing the Mockingjays and Lost Symbols from doing the political historical screenplays?
I get asked that and I don’t even really know how to answer it because every time I’m facing the blank page or every time I’m rewriting, it’s all the same to me to a certain extent. I’m just trying to make it work. I’m just trying to make the scenes work. It always has its own unique set of challenges depending on whatever that story is. In the case of the historical pieces, there’s a challenge because you’re, as a screenwriter, somewhat shackled by history. At the same time, if the history is not pretty fascinating, then you’re probably not writing the screenplay in the first place because I wouldn’t want to do the movie. So there’s so much great stuff in there, and the same is said for the novel.
The novels, you can change more, depending on the book. Some books you have more liberty for more creativity and some books you have less because A, the books are great. You want to use as much of them as you can, and B, they’re so wildly popular that it’s not an open season for interpretation. I’ve done adaptations that haven’t been made that weren’t as high profile in which I changed quite a bit. Each has its own unique set of challenges.
You don’t have that freedom with Hunger Games or Dan Brown though, right?
Yeah, I’m not going to really get into the specifics of how I approach those because I’m not allowed to.