“There’s this myth that actors have to make choices. I guess I feel like choices are made for you by your instincts in the moment.” – Jeremy Strong
On HBO’s Succession, actor Jeremy Strong plays Kendall Roy, the son of a media tycoon who seeks to succeed his father though he appears ill-equipped to be the heir apparent. Portraying Kendall is a challenge for Strong, since he needs to play a complex character full of ambitions, weaknesses, and conflicts. In an interview with IndieWire, Strong speaks extensively about his process when it comes to acting — and how he feels acting is the result of using your instincts to discover the best take you can do of a scene.
The interviewer asks Strong how he balances having the knowledge of what his character will go through but having to play the character who does not know what the future holds. Strong answers, “Something I really believe in is not proscribing any answers. If you have loaded yourself up with enough understanding of the character’s struggle and need and dilemma, then your job is to work through the knot of that dilemma in real time, on camera, in front of the audience. There’s this myth that actors have to make choices. I guess I feel like choices are made for you by your instincts in the moment.”
Furthering that idea, Strong points to how he relates acting to “searching” for the right take that exists inside of you. He continues, “I’m one of those actors where performance is not a monolith, it’s thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of imperfect attempts at a scene and each take is a search. I think sometimes something opens up to you within a take and you follow that line of intuition and sometimes the doors are all closed to you. Matthew McConaughey just wrote a book called Greenlights and I was thinking about that idea. You expect a take sometimes to be a bunch of green lights and things are just clicking in and you kind of catch a wave.”
With that in mind, it’s no surprise what Strong’s opinion is when it comes to rehearsing a scene. He says, “I don’t like to rehearse, and I like to create the dynamic in the environment as much as possible.”