Apparently, Jeremy Strong‘s first audition wasn’t very successful.
In an interview with The New Yorker on Dec. 5, Strong revealed that he originally auditioned for the role of Kieran Culkin‘s character, Roman Roy, before landing the role as his older brother, Kendall, on HBO’s Succession. According to the interview, back before the series premiered in 2018, executive producer Adam McKay approached Strong with the pilot script and said, “tell me what role you connect with.”
Strong ultimately chose the youngest of Logan Roy’s children. “I thought, Oh, wow, Roman is such a cool part,” Strong explained. “He’s, like, this bon-vivant prick. I could do something that I hadn’t done before.”
Strong went on to interview for the role but while he was in Denmark to get married, he got the call that Culkin had received the part.
Following the disappointment of not being cast as Roman, things looked up for Strong, as the show’s creator, Jesse Armstrong, agreed to audition him for the role of Kendall Roy. “I’ve always felt like an outsider with a fire in my belly,” Strong said of connecting with the eager-for-power Roy sibling. “And so the disappointment and the feeling of being thwarted—it only sharpened my need and hunger. I went in with a vengeance.”
Though Armstrong was skeptical at first, he asked Strong to “loosen up the language.” Per Strong, “It was about, like, Beastie Boys-ing it up. I was missing the patois of bro-speak.”
That same day, Strong was chosen to play Kendall, and thankfully so, as he became the moody son that we both detest and root for.
Not only does Strong play Kendall, he takes the role very seriously. “To me, the stakes are life and death,” he continued. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.”
But this is normal for Strong, as many of his former co-stars and colleagues, including Robert Downey Jr., Aaron Sorkin and Amy Herzog, see him as a method actor, even though he doesn’t see himself that way.
While Strong played Jerry Rubin in Sorkin’s, The Trial of the Chicago 7, he asked a stunt coordinator to “rough him up” and requested to be sprayed with tear gas. “I don’t like saying no to Jeremy,” Sorkin explained in the same interview. “But there were two hundred people in that scene and another seventy on the crew, so I declined to spray them with poison gas.”
Herzog explains that when he played a child who was a potential victim of child abuse in The Great God Pan, “there was a shirt he wore that was really important for him.”
“For compositional reasons we wanted to try it in a different color,” Herzog continued. “I remember him saying that the shirt he was wearing had functioned as his armor, and this new shirt wasn’t like armor.”
Downey Jr. had a similar experience while working with Strong on The Judge.
While playing Downey Jr‘s mentally disabled brother in the film, according to the article he “paced around the set weeping loudly, even though he wasn’t called that day” and “asked for personalized props that weren’t in the script, including a family photo album.”
“All I know is, he crosses the Rubicon,” Downey, Jr., added.
And a member off the design team recalled, “It was almost swatting him away like he was an annoying gnat—I had bigger things to deal with.”
Brian Cox, who plays Logan Roy, Strong’s on-screen father, expressed concern regarding Strong’s intense method acting. “The result that Jeremy gets is always pretty tremendous,” he said. “I just worry about what he does to himself. I worry about the crises he puts himself through in order to prepare.”
We’ll get to see plenty more of Strong’s work in the near future, as Succession has been renewed for a fourth season on HBO.