“I’ve never done a TV show before, so I remember feeling that this was going to be scary, like I’m going to feel locked in a cage,” reveals Kieran Culkin about working on HBO’s acclaimed drama “Succession.” He admits, “It just hasn’t been that way,” noting that he hopes the show will go on for some time because of how much fun he is having. Watch our exclusive video interview with Culkin above.
In “Succession,” Culkin co-stars as Roman Roy, the youngest of the Roy clan, whose magnetic bravado and cockiness belies an insecurity and ambition underneath the surface. The Roy family is headed up by media mogul patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and is in constant upheaval as they navigate power struggles both within the family and in the corporate boardroom of his Waystar Royco media empire. At the heart of the show is the interaction between Logan his damaged adult children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck) as well as the extended family, sycophants and acquaintances that orbit them.
“It sounds like ass-kissing, but these writers are brilliant,” Culkin says smiling, acknowledging that actors praise their show’s writers all he time. But he really means it, talking at length about how his complicated character has developed over two seasons thanks to the way in which show creator Jesse Armstrong, the writers and Culkin have collaboratively approached and shaped who this guy is.
“They write great scripts, they tell great stories, but they also know how to write for each actor. They all have, and Jesse in particular, an amazing ‘bullshit-ometer.’ He knows if something is a little too far or a little on the nose, so I am in completely safe hands. There’s a lot about Roman, well most of how I approach Roman, is not at all this,” the actor explains, gesturing to his head. “It’s all gut,” he adds. “It’s all like I read the page, it feels right and if it doesn’t then I will express myself and then it feels like I’m heard in this collaboration. It’s not a struggle. I’m never fighting to make sure I have a voice. I’m never fighting to try to understand who this guy is. We all seem to have a really good understanding of what it is and we all have a lot of trust.”
One of the more surprising developments for Roman over Season 2, other than the unexpected flirtation he has with unflappable lawyer Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), is that Roman has grown up a little. By the end of these episodes, there are hints that his dominating ice-cold father may be looking at him as an emerging credible successor, which may not have been the case back at the beginning of season 1. “Roman is absolutely insanely resilient,” he explains. “He is a rubbery guy. You can say whatever you want and he’s going to fire them back. You can whack him in the mouth and he’s ‘it’s fine’ and comes back and everything’s normal. He’s resilient and strong, even though he may come across as a dumbass. He’s well aware of that, but he takes that in stride.”
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