Danny Strong on Why He Recut ‘Rebel in the Rye’ (Exclusive Video)

TIFF 2017: “There were certain elements to his character arc that people weren’t getting,” writer-director tells TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman

Last Updated: September 8, 2017 @ 2:14 PM

The Sundance premiere of “Rebel in the Rye” was disappointing to its director and co-writer Danny Strong, but, he told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman, “it also was incredibly helpful.”

“It made me see what I needed to do to the film,” Strong said in a one-on-one with Waxman at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

“Rebel in the Rye” takes viewers on a journey into the life and mind of the legendary and secretive author J.D. Salinger and tells the story of the birth of “The Catcher in the Rye.” As the author who captivated a generation, Salinger soared to the heights of the literary world but left it all behind for a life of seclusion.

Although the response the film received at Sundance in January was less-than Strong had hoped for, it did serve an important look at what he thought was missing.

“I wanted people to put me on their shoulders and march me through Sundance,” joked Strong. When he didn’t get the overwhelmingly positive response, he realized there were elements to the story that weren’t coming across clear enough.

“I was frustrated with myself that I didn’t make these things clear enough that were so important to me in the story,” he said. “Like the PTSD story, like that this was the story of a veteran. There were certain elements to his character arc that people weren’t getting.”

After Sundance, Strong took his film back into the editing room. “I think the film greatly benefited because of it.”

Strong is known best for creating the hit Fox show “Empire,” for which he has written and directed multiple episodes. He also wrote the screenplays for “The Butler,” both “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” movies and the HBO films “Recount” and “Game Change.”

Watch the interview above.

“Rebel in the Rye” opens today in theaters.