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Jeremy Strong gives a devastatingly real performance as Kendall Roy on HBO’s “Succession,” but would you believe that he was vying for a different role? After his profile in The New Yorker, Strong developed a reputation as being a real-life Kendall Roy. He takes the part so seriously, it’s hard to imagine him playing anyone else. But believe it or not, Strong originally wanted to play Kendall’s devil-may-care brother Roman.

The Emmy Award-winning actor was on board as soon as he read the script. Executive producer Adam McKay gave the actor the script over lunch and asked to pick a role that he connected with. Roman was an unusual character for Strong, but that’s exactly what attracted him to it.

“I thought, ‘Oh, wow, Roman is such a cool part,'” the “Armageddon Time” star recalled. “He’s, like, this bon-vivant prick. I could do something that I hadn’t done before.”

Sadly for him, the part had already gone to Kieran Culkin. Luckily for everyone, Culkin ended up being an objectively better fit. Where Strong is darkly serious even in his most comedic moments, Culkin manages to mask his character’s pain with a mischievous glint in his eye.

Although Strong didn’t get the part he wanted, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. The actor’s beat-down, villainous mentality was honed just in time to audition for Kendall.

“I’ve always felt like an outsider with a fire in my belly,” Strong explained. “And so the disappointment and the feeling of being thwarted — it only sharpened my need and hunger. I went in with a vengeance.”

Strong Wanted To Be Kendall’s Wise-Cracking Brother Roman

When Strong auditioned for “Succession,” he prepared heavily. He even read a biography of Rupert Murdoch to glean details about his children. One in particular stood out — the media titan’s son tied his shoes very tightly — an indication of his “inner tensile strength,” Strong said.

Despite his best efforts, series creator Jesse Armstrong wasn’t sure that Strong had mastered Kendall’s dialogue when he first auditioned. However, once Armstrong told him to “loosen up the language,” his performance came to life.

“It was about, like, Beastie Boys-ing it up,” the actor remembered. “I was missing the patois of bro-speak.” Once he got the hang of Kendall’s tone, Strong landed the role.

Being strung too tight almost cost him the part, but it also made Strong just like his character. The actor treats his character’s life with grave sincerity, the same way that Kendall approaches his own ambitions.

“To me, the stakes are life and death,” he explained. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.” 

In fact, Strong takes his role so seriously that it’s raised concern among his castmates. “After the first season, he said something to me like, ‘I’m worried that people might think that the show is a comedy,'” Culkin recalled. “And I said, ‘I think the show is a comedy.’ He thought I was kidding.”

Strong’s deathly serious approach is exactly why McKay knew he would be perfect to play Kendall. “That’s exactly why we cast Jeremy in that role,” he revealed. “Because he’s not playing it like a comedy. He’s playing it like he’s Hamlet.”

Culkin Was Ultimately A Better Fit

Kieran Culkin takes a much more lighthearted approach to his “Succession” role than Strong does. “The way Jeremy put it to me is that, like, you get in the ring, you do the scene, and at the end each actor goes to their corner,” the actor recounted. “I’m, like, this isn’t a battle. This is a dance.”

He might seem like an obvious choice for Roman but, believe it or not, the casting directors saw him in another role at first — Cousin Greg. “They wanted me to read for Cousin Greg,” Culkin recalled on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “Which I just didn’t feel right for … Normally, in any other script, I would be like, ‘Okay, I’m not right not for this part. I’m gonna close it. I’m not gonna continue reading on. But I just kind of liked the script, so I read on.”

When Culkin delved further into the “Succession” pilot script, he found a part that he was much more excited about — Roman. “‘Well, I kind of like this guy … I like the way he talks. I can do that.'” But his quest to play Roman didn’t end there. Culkin had to chase down the casting directors to convince them to let him try out for the part.

“I asked,” the actor admitted. “I was like, ‘Can I audition for Roman?’ And then the response back was, ‘We’re not auditioning for that part yet,’ but I just sort of put myself on tape anyway and sent it in.”

Despite all the shuffling of parts, the final casting fit each actor like a glove, and the fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Shout out to Culkin for realizing he was best for Roman — his decision made everything else fall into place.

Read this next: The Best TV Episodes Of 2022, Ranked

The post Kendall Roy Wasn’t The Succession Role Jeremy Strong Was Shooting For appeared first on /Film.

/Film – Kendall Roy Wasn’t The Succession Role Jeremy Strong Was Shooting For
Author: Shae Sennett
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March 16, 2023

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