Actor & Screenwriter John Francis Daley Is the New Danny Strong
If you ever needed an excuse to re-watch Freaks and Geeks on Netflix, the time is now: John Francis Daley, who played lovable dork Sam Weir, is coming back into the spotlight. Before you start getting out your Grateful Dead t-shirts and non-alcoholic beer in celebration, be warned that the Freaks and Geeks reunion we're all dying to see is still a long ways from happening; Daley, now 28, is making his comeback not as an actor, but as a screenwriter.
Along with Jonathan Goldstein, Daley will write and executive produce a comedy for CBS. Called Punching Out, the show will revolve around a group of friends with miserable jobs who decide to quit in order to work at a mall. If the idea of a couple of thirty-something guys hating their jobs and deciding to take action sounds familiar to you, you're not imagining things; Daley and Goldstein were the writers behind Horrible Bosses, the hit 2011 comedy about friends who conspire to murder their bosses.
Daley's success as a screenwriter is no fluke. Earlier this year, he wrote The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which received middling reviews from critics but did decently at the box office. In the coming year, Daley, along with Goldstein, will be writing a Horrible Bosses sequel, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and a movie called The Bus Driver. In 2014, the duo plan to write and direct Vacation , a sequel/reboot to the beloved National Lampoon Vacation series. Even Cindy Sanders would have to be impressed by that resume.
To be fair, calling Daley's newfound screenwriting career a comeback is a bit of a stretch, considering that he has found significant success in Hollywood since Geeks ended in 2000. After co-starring on shows like Boston Public and The Geena Davis Show, Daley landed a main role on Fox's Bones, as Dr. Lance Sweets, a psychologist for the FBI. The show's never managed to score huge ratings, but it's gotten consistent critical love, and it'll soon enter an impressive ninth season.
Still, while Daley's acting career has stabilized nicely, it's his relatively new foray into writing that will finally get him the stardom Freaks and Geeks fans have longed for since the show's cancellation. His upcoming projects should do the trick; Punching Out sounds promising, and Vacation will garner the support of the still-passionate National Lampoon fan base. Both Horrible Bosses and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs were critically acclaimed and huge box office successes, and if the Daley-penned sequels are anything as good and do half as well as the originals, he'll surely be propelled into screenwriting royalty.
Daley's career change is impressive, but surprisingly, he's not the only teen-actor-on-a-cult-show-turned-in-demand-screenwriter of late. Danny Strong, who found fame with turns on beloved shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls, has found greater acclaim as a screenwriter than he ever did as an actor (which is saying something — everyone loved Doyle.)
He's the writer of this summer's critically adored film The Butler, as well as the guy behind Game Change and Recount, Emmy-winning HBO movies. He's next writing The Lost Symbol, the third movie in the Da Vinci Code series, as well as the hugely anticipated two-part finale to The Hunger Games. Even as his screenwriting career is taking off, Strong hasn't stopped acting, appearing in a recurring role on Mad Men and cameo-ing in The Butler.
Overachiever? Yeah, but also a great role model for Daley. The Punching Out scribe should take advice from Strong's flawless transition from cult actor to respected writer. So far, Daley's career change seems to be going smoothly, and we couldn't be happier; with his Freaks and Geeks co-stars Seth Rogen opening #1 movies and Linda Cardellini getting nominated for Emmys, there's no reason the youngest Weir shouldn't also find success.