KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Scheming children vying for their billionaire father’s fortune, a powerful yet dysfunctional family who seem to go all out to hurt each other, Succession might sound like a familiar premise at first.
But beneath its gilded veneer, the show is a Shakespearean dark comedy reimagined for our modern age that makes allusions to influential tycoon-types like Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump.
Prestige television has never been this good and it’s easy to see why the HBO hit show has been dubbed TV’s best show.
To promote the show’s latest season which starts today, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, sat down with the stellar cast — Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Alan Ruck, Matthew Macfadyen and J. Smith-Cameron — via Zoom to dive into the world of the Roys.
Jeremy Strong enjoys soaking up Kendall’s turmoil
Playing the troubled Kendall in the series involves going to a dark place and Strong, 42, doesn’t mind being strapped into a burning chair.
“I don’t try to lighten up the mood in between takes, that would make my job really difficult because the task is to inhabit the place where the character lives,” he said.
“On one level it’s intense and difficult, sometimes the writing puts me through things that I’d rather not go through — I’d love to just go home or go to Malaysia.
He does, however, find joy in the creative process of playing someone with a lot of anguish and torment, and doesn’t spare himself from that so it’s palpable to audiences.
“In between takes I tend to just stay quiet, it’s not a methody thing, it’s just allowing yourself to be a vessel for the material,” Strong said, adding that Kendall gets some respite this season.
“And then I do feel an indescribable amount of relief when I finish this job because it’s heavy.”
Sarah Snook imagines Shiv without wealth and power
So much of the Roy children’s identity is shaped by their privileged social status and Snook who plays the only daughter in the family was asked to picture Shiv without billions.
“(Shiv) believes she deserves to be in any room because she can probably afford to buy the building,” the Aussie actress told Malay Mail.
Shiv’s confidence and strength, she added, comes from the world she grew up in.
“That’s a great question, I wonder what Shiv would be like without all the trappings of wealth and power around her.
“Maybe she would be a bit boring, she’d be scrappy, she’d be a fighter — maybe she’d be like Logan and make her own empire from the ground up,” she said.
Kieran Culkin thinks all families are dysfunctional
Asked whether the Roys would be just as dysfunctional if they were middle or working class, Culkin said yes without hesitation.
“What is a functional family?
“I don’t understand what this thing is, dysfunctional family, just say family.
“They’re nuts, you’re nuts, I’m nuts, we’re all nuts, leave it alone,” the actor who plays Roman in the show said.
Alan Ruck on why we love watching billionaires self-destruct
As audiences, we can’t seem to get enough of horrible people doing horrible things to each other and Ruck has a theory.
“It’s just really satisfying to watch billionaires self-destruct,” the 65-year-old said.
“It’s like watching a train wreck, there’s something really wrong about it but we love it.”
Best known for playing Cameron Frye in the 1986 cult film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the actor said it’s fun to watch a bunch of reprehensible people devour each other.
“We all know that money will not fix us, hopefully we all know that and hopefully we have enough money to get along and take care of our lives,” Ruck added.
“But having obscene piles of wealth, a lot of people fantasise about it but it just reinforces the truth that if you’re damaged goods, it will not fix you.”
Matthew Macfadyen can’t wait to revisit Malaysia
The British actor who plays Shiv’s husband Tom spent seven years in Jakarta when he was younger and travelled to Malaysia when he lived in the Indonesian capital.
“I’m trying to find an opportunity to come back to Malaysia and that part of the world with my kids, they’re starting to get very interested,” Macfadyen said.
Commenting on whether audiences from different countries interpret the show differently, the actor said he doesn’t know how anyone can admire the Roys.
“Maybe they do, admire their ruthlessness or stubbornness.”
J. Smith-Cameron: Gerri’s tenacity is a good example for women
Every woman in the corporate world who has seen the show probably wants to grow to be Gerri, the Roys’ lawyer played by actress Smith-Cameron.
“She’s tenacious and she does her homework,” she said.
“That is good advice for a career woman at the top of an organisation and it’s also good advice for a college freshman.”
The actress said someone like Gerri knows she had to work twice as hard as her male colleagues to get to the top.
“Those are her two big things and they’re not necessarily things that come naturally to me,” Smith-Cameron said.
“Actors have to be tenacious so in my own small way I have done that — I think that’s good advice for females everywhere.”
Succession season 3 airs at the same time as the US on Mondays, 9am exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411), with a same day encore at 10pm on HBO.