James Cromwell (‘Succession’) on playing estranged brother Ewan Roy, the moral compass and outsider [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“It’s better than a kick in the eye!,” laughs veteran actor James Cromwell, who just received his fifth career Emmy nomination, this time for his guest role on HBO’s flagship drama “Succession.”

Cromwell, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1995 for his role as Farmer Hoggett on “Babe,” previously won an Emmy as a supporting actor on “American Horror Story: Asylum” in 2013 and was nominated for “RKO 281” (2000), “ER” (2001) and “Six Feet Under” (2003). Watch our exclusive video interview with Cromwell above.

SEE the 2020 Gold Derby TV Awards nominations complete list

“Succession” was created by Emmy winner Jesse Armstrong, centering on the power struggles that drive dominating media magnate Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his damaged adult children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck). Cromwell plays Ewan Roy, Logan’s estranged brother.

The epic drama leads all drama series (alongside “Ozark”) with 18 nominations across the board, up from five nominations for its first season (Armstrong won for writing the season 1 finale and composer Nicholas Britell won for its main title theme music). The actors did especially well this year, as Cromwell is joined by fellow vets Harriet Walter and Cherry Jones in the guest categories. Most of the principle cast were also nominated, like first-timers Cox and Strong vying for lead acting honors and fellow freshman Snook, Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun in the supporting categories.

SEE the 2020 Emmy Awards nominations complete list

Cromwell agrees that the best way to understand his character is to see him as the outsider, the show’s moral compass if you will. While he comes across as “a man full of sour grapes and resentment and smallness and bitterness,” the actor says there’s much more to Ewan Roy. In a way, he is a surrogate for the show’s audience peering behind the veil of this filthy rich but damaged family. He truly knows the real Logan Roy underneath all of the trappings of his excess and hubris and calls his brother out on it at every opportunity.

“I think he would like his brother to awaken. I think he would like his brother to understand that the world does not revolve around him. He has learned something, he learned something because he was passed over by his father,” Cromwell explains. “He has seen what that has done to this family. The illness that he has passed on, his ambition, his avarice, his lust for power is corrupting.”

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