Macall B. Polay / HBO
Succession co–star Kieran Culkin grew up on screen. His first gig (when he was 6) was in a commercial, followed by a small role in the 1990 film. Alone at home, in which his brother Macaulay starred. But it wasn’t until recently, almost 30 years after starting his acting career, that something clicked.
“I don’t remember if it was season 1 or 2 [of Succession], but I remember coming home from work one day and saying to my wife, “It’s going really well. … I think I know what I want to do with my life. I think I want to be an actor He said.
HBO Succession is a comedy disguised as a drama about corporate power and greed. Culkin’s character Roman Roy is one of three independent adult siblings vying to take over Waystar Royco, the family-run media conglomerate, following the retirement or death of their elderly father. Roman, the younger brother, is known for his gooey sense of humor and laid back zingers.
“Everything dances in a line,” Culkin says of his character. “This guy grew up without having to suffer consequences, so he doesn’t really know what it means to suffer consequences.”
With previous projects, Culkin was not so invested in welcoming the public. He would finish a movie or act and move on to the next thing. But with Succession, it’s different.
“I kind of hope people like the show I’m on because I’m having such a great time doing it, so I want to keep doing it,” he says.
Feeling ambivalent about being an actor
I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, and I don’t think when you’re 6, 7 and say “hey, mommy, daddy, I wanna be an actor” that you’re actually really making a decision for your future. . You are just a kid. So I felt like I had been doing it since I was a kid and I never really made the choice to do it. And I think around the age of 18, 19, 20, I found out that all of a sudden I had a career that I never made up my mind to want, and didn’t really like. So I tried to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible while I thought about what I wanted to do with my life and, in the meantime, I’ll just do this acting thing for as long as I like it and as long as I find a project that I like. I didn’t necessarily pursue acting career or success or anything like that. I just like to work from time to time.
By working with such a talented ensemble in Succession, in particular Brian Cox, who plays Patriarch Logan Roy
It kind of rubs off on you. … Just being in a scene with someone like Brian, I have a lot less work to do. … Brian is a force to be reckoned with as a person, so he brings so much that it doesn’t take a lot of effort. It’s also very interesting in the series. I agree that there are a lot of extremely talented actors on the show, and a lot of them work very, very differently and you can see the different approaches of people and how they can all make it work. … There are elements of reality [actors] in the character, so it gets a bit blurry. Brian has Logan-in within moments, but for the most part he’s like a wonderful guy and Logan obviously isn’t. But you see these little things going like, “Is that Logan or is Brian just hungry?” Can someone get him a sandwich? He’s about to come after you.
Macall B. Polay / HBO
On how all of the show’s curses affected her true speech
I would say the F word is slipping out of me. I mean, I think in general it’s always been kind of a natural word for me. But since we did the show, it’s every sentence, more or less. I’m trying to be careful now because my two year old daughter has actually become an impersonator. So this one was tough. She hasn’t said it yet.
On witnessing childhood fame through brother and how toxic fame is
It was pretty crazy. And I think what people sometimes forget to remember too is that he was a kid. He didn’t really choose that. This is something that happened to him. And I think when you’re a kid you obviously don’t have the tools to handle something like that. So I think it could have been pretty hard. …
For me, I kind of had the opportunity to experience it occasionally when I was a kid. So for me, I always knew that it was not something that one would want to pursue. Fame is not a very beautiful thing. No anonymity, it’s terrible. I have some very famous friends. They cannot walk in the street without several people stopping them. Forget about trying to get on a plane. It’s ridiculous. They can’t go out to a restaurant with friends because people are going to come to the table saying, “Oh, I never do that” or “Sorry to interrupt.” …
Some people probably like it, and they’ve probably been able to relate to life with it. But I think most of the time it comes to people and they’re like, “Oh, I made a terrible mistake”, and now they have to deal with it. This is how I see it. Any reasonable person wouldn’t, couldn’t look at fame and say, “I want this!
On rejection in industry
I never and still do not pay attention. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been doing it for a long time. I never saw him as losing a game. … I’m just not cut out for it or I am. If the job doesn’t come, all the better. If that happens, so much the better. And that’s sort of always how it was. I kind of remember my dad teaching me like during an audition: “You work really hard for the audition and by the time you leave this room you forget it because it’s not your. work. You let it go. If it comes back to you, then great, and you can redo the work, but you don’t think about that stuff. ”
On being surprised by how much he loves parenthood
It was never something I had considered until we did. Now it’s actually the biggest – much better than I could have imagined! No matter how hard it gets. As with anything else, you have too hard a job or too hard a relationship, you end it. It’s like, finished, move on. [With parenthood] no matter how hard it gets. It is always enriching and always wonderful. And I’m only two years old. So who knows, but it’s the best thing, much better than I could have imagined.
On its ability to memorize lines very quickly
This is something I can attribute to my childhood as an actor, as I memorize the lines extremely quickly. It’s almost like a parlor ride. … I can watch a speech like once or twice, and I can repeat it pretty quickly. …
I don’t like linebacks either, which I know a lot of actors like to do. … Actually, I don’t like to say words. I don’t say them out loud when working on them the day before or the same day. I don’t like to say it until I’m in the room to say it. And there was one day … it was a big scene with a big group of us and [Brian Cox] shouted: “We’re running lines!” And then he started in the scene and everyone is doing it. It came from me and he looked at me and I said, “Well, I haven’t really watched the scene yet.” So I grabbed the sides and kind of read it once, and then we got called in for the shoot and walked in and we just shot. And he said, “When did you learn these lines? See you later ? I went, “Oh yeah, earlier.” And he said, “Damn !!” And he got so angry because he had to work the day before and try to learn the lines and I looked at him twice and I knew it.
Heidi Saman and Thea Chaloner produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Natalie Escobar adapted it for the web.