While audiences may laugh at the comedy in “Succession”, star Jeremy Strong takes it all seriously.
In a new profile in The New Yorker, the 42-year-old actor, who plays scion of the Waystar Royco empire Kendall Roy on the show, talks about his approach to the character.
Strong is particularly adamant that he doesn’t play the character like he’s in a comedy at all.
“To me, the stakes are life and death,” he says. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.”
Asked about the cringe comedy of the season 2 scene in which Kendall raps for his dad Logan Roy’s birthday, Strong brings up Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment before referencing his character’s “monstrous pain.”
And in case anyone thinks it’s all an act, Strong’s co-star Kieran Culkin recalls, “After the first season, [Jeremy] said something to me like, ‘I’m worried that people might think that the show is a comedy.’ And I said, ‘I think the show is a comedy.’ He thought I was kidding.”
Executive producer Adam McKay says, “That’s exactly why we cast Jeremy in that role. Because he’s not playing it like a comedy. He’s playing it like he’s Hamlet.”
Talking about his very serious and internalized acting process, Strong says, “I want every scene to feel like I’m encountering a bear in the woods.”
Meanwhile, Brian Cox, the seasoned Scottish actor who plays Strong’s father on the show, admits he worries about Strong and his acting approach.
“The result that Jeremy gets is always pretty tremendous,” Cox says. “I just worry about what he does to himself. I worry about the crises he puts himself through in order to prepare.”