Exclusive: Cast Talks HBO ‘Succession’ at NY Premiere

‘Succession’ follows the Roy family as patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox), looks to hand over his mega-media and entertainment company to his son, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong). But soon all of the drama and dysfunction that ensues within a powerful and rich family that is hungrier for power above anything else begins to seep out. ‘Succession’ was created by Jesse Armstrong and executive produced by Armstrong, Adam McKay, and Will Ferrell.  

Natalie Gold – “Rava Roy”

How would you describe your character in three words?

Natalie Gold: Patient. Intelligent. Witty.

Can you speak a bit about your character’s relationship to the Roy family?

Natalie GoldMy character is Rava Roy and I’m married to Kendall Roy. He is one of Logan’s sons, kind of the heir- apparent to take over the company. We are in a fraught relationship in the process of getting separated, so we have two children together. So that is my relationship kind of like half in the family, a little bit outside of it.

What drew you to this role? 

Natalie Gold: Oh, I mean it’s a dream. It’s a dream cast, it’s dream writing, it’s a dream role.

What do you think your viewers can expect from the rest of the season? 

Natalie Gold: I hope that they are ready to kind of be emotionally devastated one minute and laughing through their tears on the floor the next moment. I think it shows a lot of that. Really human, really beautiful.

Rob Yang – “Lawrence”

Can you describe your character’s relationship with the Roy family?

Rob Yang: Enigma. Speed Bump.

What made you want to get involved with this project? 

Rob Yang: Everybody involved with it. It’s like an all-star cast and creative team. It’s sort of like being called into the NBA or the NFL.

Your character really comes in to shake up a lot of things in the business. Can you kind of talk about what his motivation is throughout the season?

Rob Yang: I guess without giving anything away, his motivation is- he’s not a big fan of the family, especially the actual sons and daughter. I think there’s a respect for the patriarch, but not so much for who stands to take over. I think there’s- without giving anything away- I think it adds into further drama for the family as they try to figure out what they’re going to do for the business.

What was your experience like working on set?

Rob Yang: It was pretty amazing. It really was. I had this moment when I was sitting there and I looked at everybody involved, like in a particular scene and just the body of work and what everyone has done, and what I’ve seen as a kid growing up- just the cumulative body of work around me, was just amazing. I just kind of was there on set in awe of everybody around me- just kind of being like “You know, this is pretty cool that I get to be in this scene and this moment.

Alan Ruck – “Connor Roy”

Can you describe your character’s relationship within the family, specifically where he fits in with his siblings and how he feels about his father?

Alan Ruck: The thing is, all of us are like vying for our father’s affection. Even like I’m fifty-something years old and I still want Daddy’s approval. It just keeps going on in the episodes. I was the only kid by the first marriage, then my dad married this other woman and had these three kids. They’re sort of the “Golden Trio”. Connor’s not so good at school. He has some focusing issues, maybe some other mental challenges. He always felt “other than”, “apart from”. I think to this day I still feel that. And on some level, I still want in.

What was your experience like working on set?

Alan Ruck: I had a ball. The thing is, you know, we’re fairly despicable human beings, but the actors that got to play these characters are really loveable, so it’s a real nice balance. I’m crazy about everybody I’m working with. There’s no assholes. They’re all top professionals and really sweet people. I mean the whole thing is a gift.

Can you speak about what drew you to this role?

Alan Ruck: Truthfully, I auditioned for Adam McKay. There’s a line where I say to my father, “You know there’s this job I want. It’s called President of the United States” and I said to Adam, “Clearly I’m putting my father on” and he said, “Oh no. You’re deadly serious.” Then when he said that, I knew exactly what kind of person we were talking about. He’s got some delusional problems. Anybody that’s that messed up- that’s fun to play. You don’t want to play anybody that has no problems, you know. You want to play the most messed up person you can find.

What can we expect from your character the rest of the season? 

Alan Ruck: I’m placed in some stressful situations. In Episode 4, I’m placed in a very stressful situation. There’s some emotional outburst you may not have expected. You find out about it in the second episode- I have a relationship with a younger woman. I basically pay her to be my girlfriend. I’m in love and she is not. That’s a continuing saga. That relationship keeps growing.

Can you describe your character in three words?

Alan Ruck: Somebody asked me this earlier today, we came up with delusional, and damaged. Somebody came up with another d-word that actually wasn’t very nice. Delusional, damaged, yearning. 

Hiam Abbass – “Maricia Roy”

Can you speak a bit about your character’s relationship to the Roy family?

Hiam Abbass: I’m part of the Roy family because I’m married to Logan. I’m his third wife. We’ve been married for a few years, but the show starts with them asking for me to be on the trust. I think this is where the trouble starts because the kids, as they’ve been educated, I think they just had a big problem with that. I think from thereon the discovery of the dynamics between the family members and their relationship to her and her very strong relationship to her husband. She’s like completely devoted to him as he is to her. I think there is a lot of love and trust in their coupling. At one stage, Logan says the only person he can trust is Maricia. Her presence is a threat to all the family members. At the same time, for her, it’s none of that. She’s just a wife. As a wife and a husband, they share things. If she’s part of it, she’s part of it, whether they want it or not. But she still, tries to throw parties and dinners where the family would gather because family is really important to her, as well.

How would you describe her in three words?

Hiam Abbass: I would say strong, faithful, mysterious. 

Can you talk a bit about your experience on set?

Hiam Abbass: It’s been great. I mean what can I say? It’s very different from movies. I’m used to movies. This specific show for me was a creation of a troupe almost, I would say as if we were on stage really. We would be working together, creating together. We had a lot of scenes where it was a collective. It allowed a great discovery of a different way of doing things. The writers where there, for each episode like two or three would be there. Jesse [Armstrong] was there most of the time. I think everybody from the technical team to every department that I had to deal with made it a really enjoyable process. They were really professional and understanding of what we’re doing and the challenge of this family and their condition. Sometimes it was long hours and early calls, but it was fun. It was really fun.

What can we expect to see your character go through the rest of the season?

Hiam Abbass: You have to see it, no? To discover. I think there is a lot to come, but in the first season you will learn more about Maricia, but I think you will have to see her in future seasons, where maybe that place that place that she occupies in the family becomes different. 

Matthew Macfayden – “Tom”

Can you describe your character in three words?

Matthew MacFayden: A f*cking idiot. That’s not very good is it?

Can you talk about your character’s relationship to the Roy family?

Matthew MacFayden: So I’m the fiancé of the daughter of the patriarch, whose played by Brian Cox. I work for the company. I’m head of parks, so I work for the parks division. I’m in love with her, but I’m also keen to be in the family firm and get embedded as much as possible.

What drew you to this project?

Matthew MacFayden: I just thought the writing was a hoot. I thought it was really fun. Great cast and I hadn’t played an American before so that was a big draw and shooting in Manhattan 

What can viewers expect from your character throughout the season?

Matthew MacFayden: It’s a lot of fun with me and Nick Braun who plays Greg. He and I have a sort of love-hate, mostly hate. A kind of nasty, masochistic relationship so that’s sort of fun. It’s got a lovely progression all the way through.

What was your experience like on set?

Matthew MacFayden: Lovely. Really good. Great actors. Great writers. The writers were there all the time. Happy shoot. We shot the last two episodes in the UK, so I could be near my family which made it even better.

 J. Smith-Cameron – “Gerri Ellman”

Can you tell me what drew you to your role? 

J. Smith-Cameron: First of all, I thought the material, when I first read it, was really funny and kind of alarming. Right away I was like “Who wrote this?” I looked back on my computer, like “Who is this?” Right away it just jumped off the page. The quality of writing first, really made me sit up and notice and then, the part was originally conceived to be male. They decided to make it a woman, which I thought was very fantastic because I play a cagey veteran. A very crafty lawyer who’s not a pushover in an

yway even though I’m godmother to some of the kids in the family. I’m also general counsel for this huge company. She is just as crafty and cold-blooded as the most ruthless male counterpart you can think of which is really fun and fascinating.

Can you speak a bit about your character’s dynamic within the Roy family?

J. Smith-Cameron: As I said, I’m godmother to at least Chiv, I don’t know if I’m godmother to the others. I’m friends with them, but I’m also always doing my job. I think she’s a bit duplicitous and that’s always fun to play. There’s a side to her that’s really fun and then social, but at her heart she’s one of those people who is always working and covering her bases. 

What was your experience like on set?

J. Smith-Cameron: I loved being on set for this show. Really creative, inventive group of people with a terrific feeling of playeven though we’re doing this complicated, vast story. They were really interested in everyone coming up with their own stuff or creative things or letting the camera roll a bit longer than the scene just to see what we come up with, with no obligation to use that material. You just have this feeling of participating and having to be on the balls of your feet and contribute. It was exhilarating to work with.

What can we expect from your character throughout the season? 

J. Smith-Cameron: As I said, I think she’s a friend of the family. She as a big position in the company. She’s also very much out for herself. So keep your eye on her. 

Nicholas Braun – “Greg”

Can you speak a bit about your character’s relationship with the Roy family? 

Nicholas Braun: I am a Roy, but I’m from the other side of the family- the poor farming side. We don’t have any of the billions of dollars we just have the name. I’m trying to break in a get a piece of it. I want to tell Logan Roy that I want to be part of the family, so I come to his 8oth birthday party, which is the day that the pilot takes place and I try to make my case and it ends up working.

Can you describe Greg in three words?

Nicholas Braun: Earnest. Willing. Poor.

What drew you to this role?

Nicholas Braun: Adam McKay and Will Ferrell produced the show. The writing is extremely good. Greg is a really different character from the others in the family.

What’s something you admire about your character?

Nicholas Braun: I admire his ambition and his desperation. His willingness to sit next to somebody and ask them for something. It’s a trait that I don’t always have. Greg’s got this kind of “puppyness” about him. It allows him to walk into any room. He can sort of just go for it because he’s got nothing to lose. I love that. His wide-eyed ambition. 

What can viewers expect from your character throughout the season? 

Nicholas Braun: He starts to get a bit of an edge. He starts to learn a little bit of the ways of the Roy family. He starts to get a little bit better hold of himself in this world. 

Kieran Culkin – “Roman Roy”

Can you describe your character in three words?

Kieran Culkin: No. I. Can’t. Is that three? Is that good.

What is something you admire about him?

Kieran Culkin: His complete utter ability to shut off that thing in your brain that says, “Maybe don’t say that. You might hurt somebody’s feelings.” He doesn’t have that which makes him a total asshole and unlikeable, and sh*tty and all that other stuff. Honestly, it’s fun to play that kind of guy because it’s very opposite of me and everyone else that I know. You never want to say anything mean or anything awful. You know what he does to that kid in the pilot where he goes “I’ll give you a million dollars”. He’s putting the kid on the spot to make him feel like sh*t. He just doesn’t care and that’s never something I could do, but it’s fun as hell to play. 

Can you describe your character’s dynamic with his siblings?

Kieran Culkin: Sure. With each one it’s very different. There’s sort of a debate about it, but I think Jeremy [Strong] and I agreed, between Roman and Kendall that he even though he was the older brother, there’s a possibility I used to bully him when we were younger. In that way when the younger sibling can kind of get away with hitting the older one and getting him in trouble. I feel like that plays on into our adult life where, he [Kendall] works really hard to get the position that he’s in and still doesn’t get there and this guy f*cks about, and doesn’t even try so hard, and ends up getting it, and it’s not fair.

What was your experience like working on set?

Kieran Culkin: Fun. Just fun. It’s always a good feeling when you have a team of writers you have confidence in because you know what they’re writing is right, even if I’ve ever had to question it, they’re always right. So it’s great to have confidence in that. I think they like writing a bunch of alternate jokes and giving you the freedom to improvise a little bit and have fun. Everybody gets to play around and through that you sort of start finding your own dynamics on set. It sort of bleeds into the characters and they start writing it that way and it’s kind. Everybody’s kind of working together in that way. It’s kind of nice.

What can we expect from your character throughout the season?

Kieran Culkin: I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that. He kind of just does whatever he wants, so it’s kind of fun to play that. Hopefully it’ll be nice to watch it.

Brian Cox – “Logan Roy”

Can you describe Logan in three words? 

Brian Cox: Cussed. Realist. Disappointed. Or a cussed, disappointed realist.

‘Succession’ debuts exclusively on HBO, Sunday, June 3rd at 10:00 pm.

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