“The One Truth Is, Dad Wins”: Kieran Culkin on Roman’s Journey in Succession
This week’s Succession is a climactic episode of big upsets, pivoting around the Waystar Royco town hall meeting with its employees—an event that is supposed to take employee questions about the cruise ship scandal and introduce Shiv (Sarah Snook) as the company’s new president of domestic affairs. But somehow, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) sabotages it, getting speakers to play Nirvana’s “Rape Me” seconds into her speech. Shiv retaliates with a stinging public letter that aims to pull apart Kendall’s reputation, which drops just as he’s preparing to go on a late-night show hosted by a fictional version of the comedian Ziwe. Meanwhile, Tom (Matthew MacFadyen) considers jail time, Logan (Brian Cox) meddles with White House officials, and Greg (Nicholas Braun) buys an expensive watch.
Three episodes into the season, it seemed like a good moment to check in with Roman Roy, a creation of both the writers room and Kieran Culkin’s improvisation. A few weeks ago, J. Smith-Cameron and Cox spoke to Still Watching about Culkin’s incredible improv timing on set, and this week, Culkin tells V.F. about the 10 to 12 takes they took of his response to Cox’s line “suck my dick” in the premiere of season three. “That was one of the funniest moments on set, doing like 10, 12 takes of, ‘Do you want to suck my dick?’ Slam. ‘Do you want to suck my dick?’ Slam—slam the door. And each take I got to do a different joke,” Culkin says.
“As I read it, I immediately pictured Brian’s voice saying it to me. And it was just even better—him inside looking grumpy as hell because it was hot out wearing sunglasses saying it to me and the door slammed in my face,” he adds.
The father-son dynamic between Logan and Roman seems to be on an even keel in “The Disruption,” but a few moments indicate the deeply rooted dysfunction there. In a subplot where Roman asked to do an interview about his dad, he’s asked to dredge up a memory of a happy time together. Later, the audience discovers that moment never happened—Roman did go fly fishing in Montana, but with Connor (Alan Ruck), not Logan.
“Whatever sadness Roman might have about that is very deeply buried,” Culkin says. “It’s sort of just all he’s known. The one truth is, dad wins. And that’s always been the case, and as far as Roman is concerned, it always will be.”
“I think he has less of an agenda than maybe the other siblings do,” Culkin adds, describing Roman as a reactive character who’s willing to adapt to whatever direction the wind is blowing. “Roman sort of sees Shiv as an equal, and there’s nobody else that he sees as an equal. He doesn’t see Kendall as an equal, but I think he finds him threatening because he might be greater than, or something.”
His adaptability means he surprises his siblings too—like in this episode, when he refuses to cosign Shiv’s letter. “Roman is a killer,” Culkin says, but only “up to a point.”
“Not that he’d use the word, but he actually loves his siblings. He loves his family. The others might have that too, but they’re really good at concealing it. I just don’t think Roman can do that. I don’t think he can conceal anything. He’s probably the kind of guy that goes, My tummy hurts. He can’t even pretend he’s not feeling sick,” Culkin says.
For the rest of our interview with Culkin and analysis of the episode, listen to Still Watching above, and subscribe at Apple Podcasts or anywhere else you get your podcasts.
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Published at Mon, 01 Nov 2021 02:30:00 +0000