Francine Maisler Explains How She Found the Roy Family
The woman who brought together the first season's cast discusses the distinctive ensemble.
Even if you're unacquainted with Francine Maisler, you surely know her work. Since 1991, she’s helped shape some of the most popular movies and series, ranging from Bad Boys and The Larry Sanders Show to Baby Driver and Widows. Her extended partnership with Succession director and executive producer Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice) and relationships with actors across the industry prepared her to build out the series cast that inhabited the Roy family. Here, the season 1 casting director explains why she chose to join this series and her process for finding the perfect fit for season 1 of Succession’s major players.
HBO: How did you get involved with Succession?
Francine Maisler: Adam McKay and I worked on The Big Short together and I jumped at the chance to work with him again.
HBO: How did you start your casting search?
Francine Maisler: It started with the role of Logan since he is the nucleus of the family and the show. I made a list of great actors in this age range for Adam and Jesse, and they immediately agreed that Brian Cox was the best choice.
HBO: What were you looking for while going through potential actors for this show?
Francine Maisler: Both Adam McKay and Jesse Armstrong have such a specific voice as artists. An actor must be equally skilled in comedy and drama to bring these characters to life. It was imperative to find actors who thrive and travel effortlessly between the two.
HBO: You’ve had a long relationship with Jeremy Strong. Tell us how you brought him into the fold as Kendall.
Francine Maisler: I have been a huge fan of Jeremy’s for years. We introduced him to Adam for The Big Short, and they’ve had a great working relationship from that point on. Then we cast him in Molly’s Game. He just shines in every role.
HBO: Sarah Snook gave a standout performance as Shiv. What drew you to her?
Francine Maisler: When I worked on Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Sarah was the runner-up to Rooney Mara. I never forgot her audition and admired Sarah’s versatility, so I cast her in Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs some years later. When the role of Shiv came up, I think she was a little hesitant to do a series, but I assured her that this was a group of people you want to work with. We were all very fortunate she decided to take the role.
HBO: What made you think Kieran Culkin would be the right fit to play Roman?
Francine Maisler: I was a fan of his from his theater work, as well as films like Igby Goes Down and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I asked him to audition for Greg. After reading the pilot, he decided to audition for Roman because it was the role he wanted. That was a very “Roman” thing of him to do.
HBO: Tom (Matthew MacFadyen) and Greg’s (Nicholas Braun) on-screen bromance quickly became a sensation. How did you assess the chemistry between those actors?
Francine Maisler: The world knows Matthew as the dashing “Mr. Darcy” in Pride and Prejudice, but he is amazingly funny and so fearless in his work. Nick came in to read for everyone. We had a lot of great reads but ultimately Adam and Jesse responded to Nick’s presence, his openness and his timing. We didn’t do a chemistry test — they gave the best auditions for their roles. So, when they came together on set, it was just magic.
HBO: Is it harder or easier to cast an entire family?
Francine Maisler: It’s really about the material. When the words are great, it makes my job easier.