Kieran Culkin who plays the character of Roman Roy on the hit HBO series, Succession, reveals more about the show and the development of Roman.
The drama series has been a tremendous hit for HBO, garnering multiple awards including two recent wins at the Emmys. The series created by Emmy, Oscar and WGA nominee Jesse Armstrong, the drama centres on the Roy family – Logan Roy and his four children – who control one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world.
Starring, Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Hiam Abbass, Sarah Snook, Alan Ruck and Kieran Culkin, the HBO Original drama series tracks their lives as they contemplate what the future will hold for them once their aging father begins to step back from the company.
Succession kicked off its ten-episode second season on 12 August and is currently debuting new episodes the same time as the U.S. every Monday at 9am exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411/ 431 HD) with a same day encore on HBO at 10pm. The series was also renewed recently for a third season, which solidifies its success.
In this exclusive interview, Culkin touches on the character of Roman, the show’s success and the evolution of Succession.
is Roman the funniest character in the series?
There’s an underlying comedy to most of the show. He might get more jokey things because he’s the kind of guy who will just say what comes to his mind, no matter how repulsive or offensive it might be. Most of the time he starts his sentences without having any idea where it’s going to go.
this antic energy he has, which you seem to share…
Early on, the one character choice I made was that Roman’s the kind of guy who walks into any room and feels comfortable in it. He’ll make himself comfortable even if he’s being made to feel otherwise. So I just started with that, then towards the end of the first season they started letting me riff at the end of a scene.
That didn’t necessarily make it into the show, but they learned that that’s how this version of Roman talks. And Jesse in particular writes fragmented sentences and throws them together in this weird amalgamated structure of words that doesn’t quite make sense, but you get the idea. And that’s so much fun.
He is. He’s driven to a certain degree, and really wants that job – but he doesn’t know what the job is! He doesn’t even know how to learn how to do that job. He thinks he can brag it. ‘If you give me the job, trust me, it’s going to be great.’ He’s lived his whole life like that.
To a certain degree I think that’s a good quality to run a business this way. I mean, not really, it would be a disaster. But in a few years, after a few steps, I think he could. As he says in the first season, ‘I’m dumb but I’m smart. I know there are problems, but I don’t know how to fix it – but somebody can fix it.’
what do you ascribe the show’s success?
It really all starts with the writers, what [stories] they come up with and their brilliant dialogue. Jesse has a really good bulls**t-ometer: it’s really sensitive and really on-point. He can’t help but be funny, but it has to make sense – be a real thing that they would say. Sometimes we’ll do things in rehearsals that’s funny, but he says, no, that’s not what would happen. He’s got the right sensibility.
the socio, cultural and political resonances help?
It sure can! People take from it what they can. So it definitely could… But there is something about this that feels right for now. If it was ten years ago, it might not.
does the character of Roman evolve in the new series?
I think what I’ve learned about him, and he’s learned about himself a little bit, is how resilient he actually is. People think he’s kind of a dumb-dumb. Maybe he doesn’t quite know all the stuff. But he can take a beating, take a good lashing and just bounce right back and he’s fine. And still move forward without it having to be a great big drama. [His attitude is]: nothing’s too serious, nothing really matters, nothing really has consequences – so, f**k it, I’m just gonna keep going! Which is a lot of fun to play.
Images Courtesy of HBO Asia