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Aaron Sorkin slams New Yorker profile of Succession star Jeremy Strong, calls it 'a distorted picture'

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Aaron Sorkin has taken it upon himself to defend Succession star Jeremy Strong, whose reportedly intense acting process was recently detailed in a lengthy profile for The New Yorker.

The writer-director, who has worked with Strong on two films, Molly's Game and last year's The Trial of the Chicago 7, wrote that the article paints "a distorted picture" of the actor in an open letter shared on social media Friday.

"After reading Michael Schulman's profile of Jeremy Strong — a profile in which I participated — I wanted to speak up," Sorkin wrote. "I think I helped Mr. Schulman create what I believe is a distorted picture of Jeremy that asks us to roll our eyes at his acting process."

Aaron Sorkin and Jeremy Strong
Aaron Sorkin and Jeremy Strong

Rich Fury/Getty; Macall B. Polay/HBO Aaron Sorkin; Jeremy Strong on 'Succession'

In the letter — posted to Twitter by Strong's Molly's Game costar Jessica Chastain, as the Being the Ricardos director does not have social media accounts — Sorkin goes on to share his full answers to the questions Schulman posed via email, noting that "only one and a half of these answers were used" (which, he acknowledges, "is perfectly normal" in journalism).

The portions used were his anecdotes about Strong's work on the set of The Trial of the Chicago 7, which included asking to be hit with actual tear gas and pulling pranks on his costar Frank Langella, who played the judge presiding over the film's titular trial.

"I don't like saying no to Jeremy," reads a quote used in the profile. "But there were 200 people in that scene and another 70 on the crew, so I declined to spray them with poison gas."

In his letter, Sorkin added, "Let me be clear, Jeremy would never suggest endangering a member of the cast or crew or anyone else. It was something he mentioned in passing and I was telling the story affectionately and as a way of demonstrating his commitment."

Chastain also criticized the profile on Twitter this week, writing, "I've known Jeremy Strong for 20yrs & worked with him on 2 films. 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 responded to the comments in a statement provided to EW, saying, "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."

Representatives for Strong and Chastain did not immediately respond to EW's requests for comment. A representative for Sorkin declined to give further comment.

The profile extensively describes the intensity of Strong's acting methods and their effect on his coworkers. For example, his Succession costar Kieran Culkin, who plays his character Kendall's brother Roman, discusses Strong's technique of self-isolation, saying, "That might be something that helps him. I can tell you that it doesn't help me."

However, the piece also chronicles the acclaim his performances have garnered and addresses concern about the impact Strong's commitment has on his health. Brian Cox, who plays Kendall's father, Logan Roy, says in the profile: "The result that Jeremy gets is always pretty tremendous. I just worry about what he does to himself. I worry about the crises he puts himself through in order to prepare."

The season finale of Succession airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

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