party chat

The Butler Screenwriter Danny Strong Doesn’t Get Why Anyone Cares That Jane Fonda Is Playing Nancy Reagan

Writer Danny Strong attends 72nd Annual George Foster Peabody Awards at The Waldorf=Astoria on May 20, 2013 in New York City.
Danny Strong. Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Some conservatives are incensed that Jane Fonda, a woman who basically took up arms against the United States during the Vietnam War, will be portraying American patriot Nancy Reagan in The Butler, an upcoming film about longtime White House butler Cecil Gains. The First Lady’s former press secretary called the casting decision “ludicrous.” A Facebook group called “Boycott Hanoi Jane Playing Nancy Reagan” currently has more than 20,000 likes. It’s a whole thing. 

But Danny Strong, the film’s screenwriter, doesn’t get what the big fuss is about. “It’s a cameo,” he told Daily Intelligencer at the Waldorf=Astoria last night, where he was accepting a Peabody Award for Game Change. “She’s in it for, like, a minute, but she’s wonderful. And it’s great casting — she’s looks exactly like Nancy Reagan.”

Strong added, “I don’t know what’s controversial about it. It’s a very small role, and she does a great job. She’s an Academy Award–winning actress, and she wanted to play the part, so obviously we were honored to have her.”

That may not quell the uproar, but it was certainly more tactful than telling critics to “get a life,” which was how Fonda responded. 

Danny Strong on Jane Fonda Playing Nancy Reagan