Strong’s role as the self-destructive media heir takes commitment – and the actor goes all in
• Plus: inside the Succession writers’ room
Earlier this year, Jeremy Strong left his apartment in Brooklyn, walked across the bridge to Manhattan and headed towards the far west side of the island, where he was filming the third season of the feverishly adored and heavily accoladed HBO series Succession. Strong plays Kendall, the alternately bullied and rebellious son of the vilified, Murdoch-esque media tycoon Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox, and Succession follows the jostling among the patriarch’s four children for his affection and respect, both of which he generally withholds. None of them is as visibly crushed by this as Kendall, who bears more than a slight resemblance to James Murdoch, even down to the dabblings in hip-hop. With every timid step Strong makes on screen, every apologetic dip of his chin when he starts to talk, he captures the pain of a son who knows he has failed to live up to his father’s expectations from the first time he cried. He won an Emmy last year for the role, beating, among others, Cox, in neatly Freudian style.
Strong likes to walk while learning his lines, so on that day in New York as he was walking he was also talking, reciting a speech he would soon be saying to Cox, in which Kendall tries to curry favour with his father, but also to be seen as his own man. “Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a ghost-grey Tesla rolling to a stop, so I looked in it, and there was James Murdoch,” Strong says when we meet in a London hotel. “He looked at me and I looked at him, and there was a flicker between us. Then he was gone. So we had a moment.”