Most film fans will recognise Alan Ruck from his roles in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Star Trek: Generations. But in 2018, the actor will be remembered for his role as Connor Roy in the HBO series, Succession.
Playing one of the sons of Logan Roy (Brian Cox), Connor is unlike the other characters in the series as he is seemingly uninterested in the demands of navigating the internal politics of his father’s company. In this interview, we find out what drew Ruck to Succession and the character of Connor.
What was the appeal about this character that you play in this series?
I was attracted to this part because he’s so damaged. He’s damaged goods. We actually figured out as we were going along that he suffers from delusional disorder. He’s clearly got really big political ambitions, which is not schizophrenic, but it is delusional. I said to Frank Rich –the producer –that it occurs to me that Connor is contextually irrelevant, because no matter what anybody’s talking about, he’s talking about something entirely different. And Frank said, oh, maybe it’s Asberger’s.
So, I think we started to think that Connor suffers from some learning disabilities and from a few challenges, and back in the 1960s they probably didn’t have a name for it then. And because he has had this great big wall of money around him and all these people to help him, he’s gone 50 some years through life not ever having to work. And not ever having to really deal with anybody he didn’t need to deal with. He’s a real trust fund baby.
In what ways do you think the show is particularly timely?
Well, there are people in power that are this dysfunctional.
How would you define the show?
It’s essentially a family drama, is what it is, but we had Adam McKay direct the pilot, and he and Jesse Armstrong are cut from the same cloth, and are always looking for like the dark humour in everything.
Nobody in the show is immediately very likeable, are they?
Jesse had a good comparison. Somebody asked why we should like these people, and he said, well did you like Tony Soprano? He was someone who is actually quite evil, but you found out about his life and his family and a whole other side to him. And you kind of loved him. So I think you definitely feel that way about Logan, Brian’s character.
And Sarah Snook who plays our younger sister, Shiv – she’s the sweetest girl you ever want to meet, and in character, she’s just a viper. Siobhan is just a killer. She’s the most like the old man – she’s cut from that cloth.
What reading or research did you do to think yourself into being the child of someone like Logan? There’s an excellent documentary called ‘Born Rich’. Ivanka is in it, the kids of the heads of Johnson Johnson, Conde Nast, all these children of giant corporations. I think a Vanderbilt is in there. Not to feel too sorry for them, but they deal with things that the rest of us don’t have to deal with. For example, you can’t just fall in love with somebody and say, I really dig you, let’s go get married. You have to go through a contract; you have to go through a series of steps, the whole prenuptial thing. And it’s a reality for them, because the family’s going to be like, you can’t just marry her. You can’t just marry him. We have to have it down in writing, that should we divorce, this is what you can expect, and that’s it. We’re not giving away the empire just because you fell in love with somebody.
Do you think birth order matters, in terms of the way Logan’s kids each behave?
Well, our backstory that we worked out was that Logan married my mother who was old New York money, and he was the brash young guy making money hand over fist in the 1960s, so it was sort of a power marriage. It was good for him to have the name and the connections, and then it was good for her to have the money. And they produced me, and it was not a happy union. It didn’t last; they probably divorced when I was seven or eight.
And then he met their mother who is also a monster. I mean, she’s a piece of work. And they produced these three. And they were sort of the golden trio. And Connor’s got a few mental challenges as well, so he’s just been trying to keep up. But he’s totally incapable of operating in this business world.
Catch Alan Ruck in Succession with new episodes premiering every Monday at 10am with a same day encore at 11pm, exclusively on HBO (Astro Ch 411/ HD 431). The series will also be available on HBO On Demand (via Astro GO).