Screenwriter and actor Danny Strong is interviewing colleagues at the Democratic National Convention for an Associated Press video diary.

He spoke this week with several members of the Creative Coalition, a nonprofit group that engages the artistic community in issues, about why they're in Denver and what role actors have in politics.

_ Rachael Leigh Cook ("She's All That," "Nancy Drew"): "A lot of people say, `Well, what do you actors need? Why are you speaking up? You're not people who need anything.' And it's true, we're very blessed. But almost all of us come from real middle-class families, and because we have the platform that we do, it makes it a little bit easier for us to speak up, speak out. But everyone should really be doing it. ... Mostly, I'm just here because I'm a bleeding heart liberal and a concerned citizen, and I can't wait to hear the speeches. ... Every election is historic. ... But this one is particularly so. And so I'm so excited to be here."

_ Zooey Deschanel ("The Happening," "Elf"): "I don't feel very good about the last eight years. And I feel like we're in a place where we really need _ there's a lot of damage that we need to recover from, and we need a very strong and inspirational leader to bring us out of this. It's pretty grim."

_ Ellen Burstyn ("W.," "The Exorcist," "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"): "I did support Hillary (Rodham Clinton) in the New York primary because I've been an admirer of Hillary's for a long time. She's been an excellent senator. And of course I was slightly biased by the fact that she was a woman. I never thought that in my lifetime I would have the pleasure of voting for a woman for president. So I did vote for her in the primary. But I always admired (Barack) Obama. And when it became time for Hillary to step aside and for Obama to become the nominee, I was very pleased to be able to support him. And I prayed that he would pick Joe Biden for his vice president. I thought that was the best possible choice."

_ Matthew Modine ("Full Metal Jacket"): "One of the benefits and pleasures of being an actor is having the opportunity to travel around the United States, to travel overseas. I began traveling to Europe and Asia when I was about 20. And the respect that our country had, the regard that our country had throughout the world was so tremendous. The embrace that you'd receive just for being an American was extraordinary. And over the last eight years, during my travels, I've seen that love for our country become so compromised that I don't know how we'll ever regain our stature in the world."

_ Josh Lucas ("Poseidon," "Sweet Home Alabama"): "If you go overseas you see how much there's an excitement that a country that the rest of the world felt got so lost suddenly is on track enough to make a change this dramatic _ not only an African-American, but a man whose name is Barack Obama. There's so many different elements of it that suddenly make I think the rest of the world feel like, 'Hey, maybe they're not as insane as we think they are.' And that to me is primarily what I keep seeing."

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