Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun Aren’t Quite Roys
By Bradford William Davis
The Succession actors discuss the significance of their outsider roles.
While most of the Roys were born into unending riches and immense power, Tom Wambsgans and “Cousin Greg” Hirsch are relative newbies to the family empire. Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun discuss their outsider roles and what bonds them together.
On joining Succession:
Matthew Macfadyen: Working on an American show and playing an American role gave me a chance to do something I hadn't before. As an actor, you don't want to get stuck in a rut, so Succession was perfect for avoiding that. It ticked every box.
Nicholas Braun: I saw Adam McKay and Will Ferrell were producing it, and I've always loved Adam McKay's movies. The Big Short of course, but really everything. Then, the script was so weird, dense, funny and uncomfortable. Greg's character was all those things too. I also really liked the idea of playing a really ambitious guy.
On playing Roy family outsiders:
Nicholas Braun: When I’m reading my lines, I give myself permission to fall short of the typical Roy family coolness and authority you’ll see from the others. I want Greg to have some room in his character to grow, and possibly learn from the family on how business and relationships are done.
I think his ignorance makes him relatable to viewers. I imagine a lot of people who go into their cubicles don't really know what's going on, but really want to try. Greg’s unfamiliarity with such a daunting environment and his zeal to catch up is an experience a lot of people can identify with.
Matthew Macfadyen: Most people don't know what they're doing, in general. People go to work every day and tell themselves and their colleagues, "Oh yeah, I know what I'm doing," but in truth, we’re all trying to get by. Even making good television — no one knows for sure what makes a TV show successful. We're all trying to get good people and hope for the best, but there's no formula.
On Tom's relationship with Shiv:
Matthew Macfadyen: I think he's genuinely in love with her but is also punching way above his weight. As irritating as Tom may be, with his nasal strips and constant groveling, he's never gonna dump her. Like, ever. That security is attractive to Shiv. I really believed in this marriage when I read the scripts. There's a lot of relationships and marriages that work for different reasons than pure sentimentality.
On Tom and Greg's dysfunctional alliance:
Matthew Macfadyen: Tom is a little unsettled by Greg when they first meet. I'm trying to get as close as I possibly can to my fiancee's father, Logan, because he's the boss of the firm and I've got all these ambitions to be a powerful businessman. But this guy, Greg, just strolls in to Logan’s birthday party cause unlike me, he's already family. He seems to have no fear of the patriarch while I'm terrified of the guy. Oh, and he's taller than me. That’s upsetting. Even though I'm sycophantically groveling to the Roys, he’s so intimidating to my character, I can’t help but be f**king horrible to him. I need to put him in his place.
Nicholas Braun: Greg doesn't know anything about Tom when he first enters the scene. I mean, I know I need to talk to everybody, so I talk to him. I'm just trying to process all the strange, cruel behavior he throws at me as some sort of lesson. I have no other choice because I need him. He runs Waystar's theme parks business, and that department is Greg's entry point into Waystar and the Roy family. Eventually, I see our relationship developing a strange, toxic co-dependency. We’re both outsiders and need each other.
Matthew Macfadyen: There are moments of joy between the two, like the club scene from episode six.
Nicholas Braun: True, but even still I don't play Greg at ease because Tom can turn on him so quickly. We can have a joyous moment, where Tom will act like they're friends. Until they're not.