Dan Levy and Kieran Culkin share a lot in common on their TV shows.
In the latest episode of Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” series, the “Schitt’s Creek” and “Succession” stars get together for a virtual conversation about their respective roles, with each playing the son in a wealthy family.
Among the revelations from the discussion: Culkin wasn’t originally intended to play Roman Roy on “Succession”.
“It was sent to me to read for the part of Cousin Greg, and I immediately got to who Cousin Greg was, and I went, ‘That’s not me. I couldn’t do this,’ but I liked it enough to want to read on,” he says of the role that ultimately went to Nicholas Braun.
“And then Roman walks in the room and his first line is ‘Hey, hey, motherf**kers,’ and I went, ‘Who is this guy?’ And then I saw that he was kind of horrible, and I immediately loved his voice,” Culkin continues. “By the end of the first episode, he offers a kid a million dollars to hit a home run and gets to tear up this check in front of this poor kid, and I’m like, ‘Oh, that would be a really fun day of work.’ To torture a small child. I asked if they were auditioning Romans, and the word I got back was they weren’t yet, and I said, ‘Well, I’m just going to put myself on tape anyway.’ And I picked three scenes and sent it in.”
Moving on to “Schitt’s Creek”, Levy explains how he and his father Eugene Levy created the show.
“Well, I brought him the idea, which at the time was kind of a grain of a concept about a wealthy family who loses their money,” he says. “A lot of that for me was playing on this collective consciousness we have now about how wealthy people live. It’s all over reality TV, and we have this kind of intimacy into the lives of very wealthy people. What do these people look like when they have nothing? And that became the seedling that grew into the show.”
He adds, “It was really just wanting to satirize and explore the level of wealth that we’ve all become accustomed to, and I think for me speaking about our show, our budget is the first two seconds of your show. But both kind of are examinations of wealth and what it does to people. My show is sort of if your family were to lose everything and really have to refigure their lives and their priorities. So it’s like hopefully they find love and the meaning of the true value of love and that it can’t be bought.”
Levy also praises Catherine O’Hara’s performance in the show, saying, “Nobody plays drunk better than Catherine O’Hara. Nobody. There is not a single human actor on the planet that can play drunk with the level of complexity, struggle, nuance that Catherine… I mean, and we’ve asked her time and time again to share the secret of it, and she was like, ‘It’s just a matter of not wanting to be drunk.'”
Discussing the extreme wealth on display in “Succession” and how he inhabits his character within that world, Culkin says, “He’s just Roman. This is all he knows. But there are little things. Like you said, the helicopter. They have consultants on set for how very wealthy people live. We did a take where we all got out of the helicopter, and they told us, ‘You would have been doing this your whole lives. You know where the propeller is. You wouldn’t be ducking your head.'”