Nicholas Braun and Matthew Macfadyen are the power couple of “Succession,” a New York-based dramedy about a fictional media company, Waystar Royco.
The actors who play Tom (Macfadyen) and Greg (Braun) on the HBO hit series “Succession” have become TV’s favourite unconventional friendship but what do the two really think about one another?
Braun and Macfadyen sat down with Entertainment Weekly for an exclusive interview and gave fans an inside look at their on and off screen relationship.
When the two characters are not on camera, a very different bond is shared between the actors. It began with the pilot episode when both Tom and Greg attempted to impress the central character of the show Logan Roy (Brian Cox), as they also sized each other up.
“There was instant animosity [between Tom and Greg,]” Macfayden said. “My character’s thinking, who’s this guy? Greg is blood family, and I’m tall, but you’re a bit taller, [and] he’s younger. It’s just unsettling [for Tom]. But I suddenly thought, ‘Oh, it’s going to be okay,’ because I found Nick so funny.”
Braun told EW that he thought the same about Macfadyen.
“That was a good feeling to me, as an actor, to know, like, ‘Okay, that’s a safe space,'” he says. “If I want to interact with that actor, and that character, he’ll be there for me. When somebody makes you want to laugh while you’re working, you know there’s a connection there. So, yeah, [we] pretty quickly realized we’re kindred spirits and have similar styles and sense of humour — and the writers luckily wrote towards that.”
However, the problem was that the lines became problematic for them to say because the dialogue made them crack up on camera. “We struggle, Nick and I, because the scenes are so funny,” said Macfadyen. “We find that we just about get through the scene and then the writers will come in with a load of alternate [lines].”
“Sometimes I’d beat myself up after days where I broke too much,” Braun added. “I would tell Matthew, ‘I hate that I just laughed. I hope we got it, I hope they can cut out right after we said the line.'”
When the show first started in June 2018, Macfadyen noted that “you had to pay attention” to understand characters’ comedic potential. When season two premiered in August 2019, viewers were on board with Tom and Greg’s love-hate relationship, a pop culture phenomenon.
“There is a sort of symbiotic thing with actors and writers where they put something in there and the actors either run with it or don’t. There’s a chemistry or there isn’t,” Macfadyen told EW. “And if there is, then so much the better and it develops.” This development was evident as Tom occasionally began to genuinely show signs of affection for Greg, even while torturing him.
“I think Tom really likes Greg, because I think if he didn’t like him, he wouldn’t bother with all the poking and bullying,” said Macfadyen. “The degree to which he bullies him is exactly the degree he likes him and values him and trusts him.”
During the interview, the British actor then turned towards his co-star with genuine interest and asked, “Do you think Greg would be happy to never see Tom again?”
“Sort of,” Braun replied with a laugh. “I mean, the person who is underneath another person in a relationship, and they can’t ever get really above them — it’s sort of torturous.”
“Yeah, there’s nothing you can do really,” acknowledged Macfadyen.
As for the future of Tom and Greg, Braun did tease viewers with a slight look-ahead of the current third season. “The episodes are very chaotic and the dynamics are changing and things at Waystar are definitely upended,” he says of the second half of the season. “Tom and Greg’s relationship takes a nice turn. I shouldn’t say nice. It takes a big turn.”
“Succession” has been renewed for another season on HBO.