Kieran Culkin looks back on ‘Succession’ and the Roy family

Most child actors don’t make the transition to adulthood on the big screen. Sure, there are exceptions, but for every Jodie Foster there are a dozen Shirley Temples. At the age of 10, Macaulay Culkin was one of the biggest stars of the nineties. His two-year-younger brother, Kieran, was not. He appeared with him in both «Home Alone» films and over the years established his own career in supporting roles.

In 2017, he was given a script titled «Succession». The part was for Roman Roy, the youngest of the Roy clan led by media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Loosely based on the real-life Murdoch family of Fox News, the show quickly became a breakout hit and catapulted Culkin to center stage, playing not as a child, not as a tween, but as a man, albeit a spineless one. At first glance, he knew the text was strong, but he didn’t see the audience for it, including himself.

«When we were filming, I was like, ‘Maybe I’m not going to watch this, this isn’t for me.’ And then something clicked,» Culkin tells The Envelope. «The first few episodes are good, the quality is there, but I don’t care about the characters. And somehow after a few episodes, I started to care.»

If older brother Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is Fredo of the Roy family, Roman is Fredo Kendall. Overcome with insecurity and a profound lack of impulse control, he’s the king of the cringe show, initiating an affair with much older in-house counsel Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron), sending her crotch shots—one he accidentally sends to his father. .

A young man and an older woman in serious conversation on a rustic mezzanine with rough-hewn wooden railings "Sequence."

Kieran Culkin often played the king of cringe as Roman Roy in «Succession», especially in scenes with J. Smith-Cameron as Gerri.

(Peter Kramer/HBO)

As the series ends, Roman, along with Kendall and sister Shiv (Sarah Snook), vie for control of the family company Waystar Royco, even though he knows deep down that he, like his siblings, is unfit to lead. The point is reinforced by Logan telling them, «You’re not serious people.»

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«He could have raised them better, he could have taught them a little better,» Culkin says of the troubled family dynamic. “He taught them in different ways that emotions are weak, and they all handled them in very different ways. And I think Roman was always told to bury it. You can admit you love someone, just don’t show them love and don’t give them love.’

The emotional hurdles come into focus midway through the fourth and final season when Logan unexpectedly dies. (No cries of “spoiler!” the show is called “Succession” after all). «Roman convinced himself that he was already grieving,» says Culkin. “He hasn’t been given a moment to really accept what happened, how he feels and who he is. I don’t feel like he really knows himself other than being his father’s son.’

While Culkin has consistently worked as a child actor, Culkin credits «Igby Goes Down» director Burr Steers with teaching him about the process when he was just 20 years old. ” he says of the 2014 Broadway production starring Michael Cera. “I understood more about the language and how to play with it. You don’t play with dialogues on stage. Without changing a single syllable, there is room to play.”

Up until «Succession,» Culkin prepared by stepping off the book and absorbing the full arc of his character. But with the hit series, they got the scripts and changes so late that he was rarely sure of his lines. “The nature of the writing was very lively but very last minute. So I had to completely change my procedure,” he notes.

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Much has been made of Strong’s Method acting, but Culkin found himself adapting to all of his co-stars, including Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun. “Brian worked differently than anyone else. If we were doing a group scene, we knew the lines, but we were encouraged to talk and try something different or stay loose with the blocking. That would throw Brian off. So we often had to stick to the script. Then when I have a scene where it’s just me and Sarah or me, Sarah, Matthew and Nick, we can play a lot more. There were times to play with Jeremy. It wasn’t that we had to stick to a certain way, but we had to adapt to personal preferences. And now I have to go to my next job knowing that they probably won’t let me do what I did in ‘Succession.’”

Two men stand outside and look up "Real pain."

Kieran Culkin stars with Jesse Eisenberg in the Sundance hit ‘A Real Pain’.

(Sundance Institute)

Another assignment was “A Real Pain,” starring and directed by Jesse Eisenberg, which recently premiered at Sundance to stellar reviews. In it, Culkin and Eisenberg play cousins ​​who travel to Poland to honor their Holocaust survivor grandmother after her death. Early press noted differences on set between Culkin and Eisenberg.

«He had a specific way he wanted to direct this movie, and I was like, ‘I can’t even choose my own blocking.’ That’s weird. It’s his movie, not mine. I don’t want to step on his toes. But if I’m hired to do a job, I feel like within reason I should be able to do it how I want. So I think the day or two he was a little sensitive to the process. And after a few days we started to adjust a little.»

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His recent, if long-delayed, Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series (best performances by Strong and Cox) joins his Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards, which are well-deserved accolades, even if some question whether Roman is the lead.

«I wanted to change categories (to lead) and I got a lot of pushback,» Culkin says, noting that HBO supported him but others told him it would hurt his chances. “If moving to the second category meant agreeing to not get any awards, I was fine with that. Snook and I said we should trade two seasons early. This year we switched.»

During his acceptance speech, Culkin yelled at his wife and held her to a promise that if he won, they would start planning more children. Toward the end of our conversation, he receives a photo of his children playing in the snow in Central Park and recalls his own childhood with his six brothers and sisters raised in one room in Manhattan’s Yorktown by their mother (whom he thanked in his acceptance speech). . «I really wish I was there,» he says, looking at the photo. “Those moments really matter.

#Kieran #Culkin #Succession #Roy #family

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