Aaron Sorkin has become the latest creative to rush to actor Jeremy Strong’s defense, following a controversial profile of the “Succession” actor published in The New Yorker online last week. Written by Michael Schulman, the piece offers a detailed account of the actor’s overzealous commitment to his craft, including some extreme examples of what some might call “method acting.” (Though that term is grossly misunderstood from its original meaning.)
Sorkin, who was quoted in the article, wrote an open letter disputing the characterization of Strong. (Sorkin directed Strong in “Molly’s Game” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”) Sorkin said he believed the piece presented “a distorted picture of Jeremy [Strong] that asks us to roll our eyes at his acting process.” He shared his lengthy answers to five questions which he sent to Schulman, noting that Schulman only used “one and a half of these answers.”
The letter was posted on Jessica Chastain’s Twitter account, because Sorkin says he does not have a Twitter profile. For her part, Chastain also leapt to Strong’s defense, tweeting two days after the article’s release.
“I’ve known Jeremy Strong for 20yrs & worked with him on 2 films,” she wrote. “He’s a lovely person. Very inspiring & passionate about his work. The profile that came out on him was incredibly one sided. Don’t believe everything you read folks. Snark sells but maybe it’s time we move beyond it.”
A New Yorker spokesperson defended the profile, telling Deadline: “This is a nuanced, multi-sided portrait of an extremely dedicated actor. It has inspired a range of reactions from people, including many who say that they are even more impressed by Jeremy Strong’s artistry after having read the article.”
But not all of Strong’s collaborators take issue with the characterization. “Succession” star Brian Cox, who is also quoted in the piece, reignited the controversy on a recent visit to “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” when he admitted Strong can get too obsessive.
“The thing about Jeremy’s approach is it works in terms of what comes out the other end,” Cox said. “My problem — and, it’s not a problem, I don’t have a problem with Jeremy because he’s delightful. … He’s an extraordinary dad. He’s a pretty unique individual. But he does get obsessed with the work. And I worry about what it does to him, because if you can’t separate yourself– because you’re dealing with all of this material every day. You can’t live in it. Eventually, you get worn out.”