Jeremy Strong on the Challenges of ‘Succession’

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“I trust that if it’s coming from the unconscious in me, then that’s right. If I ever become too self-aware, then I feel further from the truth of it.” – Jeremy Strong

HBO’s series Succession has received rave reviews for its often-intense storylines depicting the Roy family, which owns a media conglomerate, and the succession plan of patriarch Logan Roy (portrayed by Brian Cox). One of Logan’s children, Kendall, is portrayed by Jeremy Strong. In the second season, Kendall is facing personal challenges (including an unclear role in both his family and family’s company and his drug problems) that are pushing him to the edge of despair.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about the challenges of portraying a character in a fraying mental state, Strong answers:

Some other kind of actor might answer that differently and have more technical facility in terms of rendering those shades. My belief is, if you actually inhabit a place of brokenness and grief and then just let that live, without in any way trying to control or prescribe or present what that might look like, that’s been my goal, to live in and inhabit whatever given circumstances are, emotionally as best I can, and hope that the way that is emanating and coming through me, or even existing in me in an embodied way, will be felt by the audience, if it’s real for me.

But in terms of the gradations, I don’t know. Hopefully it’s not all the same color gray because I think as we’re doing it, I’m having quite a real and personal experience. You have to figure out what are the things that would break me? What are the things without which, or if I was to lose them, or if I were to cross this line or that line in some irrevocable way, would just shatter me? And so those are the kinds of creative puzzles that you’re struggling with as the actor.

That’s all very highfalutin, but really the writing just brings it out of you. I think of the writing as a set of magnets that just magnetizes out of you, the emotions and gradations that it requires. It just summons those things out of you, so you just need to be a vessel for that. So I guess that I’m not very aware of what’s showing up on camera, and I don’t want to be. I trust that if it’s coming from the unconscious in me, then that’s right. If I ever become too self-aware, then I feel further from the truth of it.

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