“It’s like if Vito Corleone had rejected and shamed Michael instead of nurturing and encouraging him,” is how Jeremy Strong describes the relationship between his character of Kendall Roy and Roy’s father, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), on the HBO drama “Succession.” Strong says in our recent webchat (watch the video above) that while he believes Kendall does have what it takes to run the Roy media empire, his father acts like kryptonite to him and causes him to lose his power and capacities under his father’s gaze. “He’s pushed by his father beyond the limits of what a person can endure. When Logan tries to make this a proving ground when Kendall is up against so much adversity and struggle, he collapses under the weight and pressure of all that,” he adds.
“Succession” follows the Roy family and their family-owned media empire as Logan, the family patriarch, puts his adult children through challenges to see who is worthy of taking over the kingdom. Strong’s character Kendall seems like the heir-apparent but is plagued by his lack of ruthlessness and his history of addiction. The other children include the incredibly despicable but strangely likable Roman (Kieran Culkin) and the political operative who works for candidates she knows will irritate her father, Siobhan (Sarah Snook).
One of the reasons Strong got involved with the project was because Adam McKay was serving as an executive producer. Strong starred in McKay’s Oscar-winning film “The Big Short” in 2015. Strong had lunch with McKay, was presented with the script and told that it examined a family in the mold of Rupert Murdoch as they struggle internally for power and how the family conglomerate will be divided. “Throughout ‘The Big Short,’ Adam was searching for some story that could embody the way in which that is the center of modern life and the character that’s at the center of that and how that trauma and poisoning of the well can poison the whole world.”
When it comes to this year’s Emmys, Strong knows which episode he would submit to the voters if he were to get nominated for Drama Actor, even though he hasn’t watched the show yet. “The final episode was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced as an actor on an emotional level.” Strong felt that the whole season had to build towards Kendall’s armor cracking and being left with just an inner child that was completely exposed. He says of the experience of filming the episode, “I went as far as I’d ever gone as an actor. I felt like I had nothing left to give after that and I didn’t know where I’d go from there. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before.”
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