BAFTA-winning actor Matthew Macfadyen reaped his first Emmy nomination for playing the hapless Tom Wambsgans on season 2 of HBO’s “Succession.” He spoke to us recently about the challenges of playing this part as well as the real-life Major Charles Ingram, the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” contestant accused of cheating in the AMC limited series “Quiz.” He revealed that Ingram told him he was a fan of “Succession” and recalls how thrilled he was to be offered the role of this outsider who marries into a media dynasty. “It is very liberating for a Brit to play an American.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Tom is married to Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), the only daughter of Logan, a media baron (Brian Cox), who is locked in a power struggle with her three brothers Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck) and cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun). In the final episode of the season, “This Is Not for Tears,” Tom both confronts Shiv about the woeful state of their marriage and resists Logan’s push that he be the fall guy for a failed business venture.
It isn’t surprising that Macfadyen has chosen this as his submission for Emmy consideration. The actor readily admits his work was made easier by the script. “When the writing’s that good, it sort of looks after you as an actor. It’s great. It’s a real gift. You don’t have to do very much; you just have to say the words and hope for the best.”
The classically trained actor is thrilled to be playing such a complicated character. “There are moments Tom’s terribly sympathetic. He’s sort of lovely and he’s the butt of everyone’s jokes and he gets bullied and then he sort of bullies Greg in kind and he’s in a strange relationship with Siobhan. I think that’s very hard. But as an actor, when you get those great changes of mood, it’s just great fun.”
Macfadyen revealed that the show’s singular style, with plenty of reaction shots during the tense group scenes around a dinner or boardroom table, made for some intense days on set. “You are on all the time. Often when you’re filming around a table, the camera will work its way around and do a single on each person. Here, there are three or four cameras. The operators are so skilled and know the scenes so well. It feels like you are in a play and it is energizing for that reason.”
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