“I will say it was a little bit of love at first sight,” declares two-time Tony winner and two-time Emmy champ Cherry Jones about working alongside the equally formidable Brian Cox on HBO’s “Succession,” who the actress had never met. Both actors play the head of their respective families and media empires, and when they go toe to toe midway through the show’s second season, fireworks ensues. Watch our exclusive video interview with Jones above.
In “Succession,” Jones plays Nan Pierce, the tough-as-nails matriarch of the old-money Pierce family and media giant PGM. She features in two Season 2 episodes, as Logan Roy (Cox), family patriarch and head of media goliath Waystar Royco, offers to purchase rival PGM, setting up a clash of cultures between two family empires.
It was a battle that culminates in both episodes (“Tern Haven,” which is Jones’ nominated episode, and the following episode “Argestes”) as the families initially cosy up to each other but ultimately clash when the deal eventually turns sour. On the one hand are the nouveau riche outsiders represented by Logan and his adult children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck). On the other hand are the Pierces, headed up by Nan and her confidante Rhea (Holly Hunter), the coastal elites that the Roys aspire to be, who control a more prestigious news machine that Logan desperately wants to devour at all costs.
Jones thoroughly enjoyed her time on the show and would return in a heartbeat if show creator Jesse Armstrong asks her. “It was a great deal of fun. It was family against family and we all kind of knew each other. A lot of my family members [on the show], the Pierces, were people I had come up with in the theater,” she explains. “We ad-libbed through everyone’s close up at the table, when they would zero in on two or three characters talking. The rest of us were carrying on, completely in character! They would finally yell cut and one end of the table would just absolutely practically roll on the floor.”
The epic drama leads all drama series (alongside “Ozark”) with 18 nominations across the board, up from five nominations for its first season (it won for writing and main title theme music). That impressive haul includes nine nominations for its cast, including Cox and Strong in the lead category and fellow freshmen Snook, Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen (Shiv’s husband Tom) and Nicholas Braun (cousin Greg) in the supporting categories. Jones joins fellow veteran James Cromwell (Logan’s estranged brother) and Harriet Walter (estranged Roy matriarch Caroline) in the guest acting categories.
This is the third year in a row that Jones has scored a guest acting Emmy nomination, having won last year for her role on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” for which she was first nominated in 2018. Jones also won an Emmy as a supporting actress in a drama series for her role as President of the United States on “24.” She is also a renowned for her work on stage, having garnered five Tony nominations to date, including wins for the 1995 revival of “The Heiress” and the 2005 original production of “Doubt.”
Jones is the defending champion in her category for her work on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and if she wins next month, she would be only the second ever performer to win back-to-back guest Emmys for two different shows after Charles S. Dutton did so at the turn of the century, having triumphed for “The Practice” in 2002 and “Without a Trace” in 2003.
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