The Best Acting Advice from the Cast of ‘Succession’

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Photo Source: Macall Polay/HBO

Whether you’re the eldest boy, the boar on the floor, or the sibling who can talk about their feeeeeelings, you can center yourself as an actor by following the advice of the acclaimed and award-winning cast of HBO’s darkly comedic drama “Succession.” If you want to level up your craft without going to the trouble of toppling a corrupt conglomerate, enjoy these pieces of acting advice from the wonderful “Succession” cast.

Brian Cox (Logan Roy): It will come to you

“One of the problems for actors is anticipating. They expect; they panic about success; they panic about whether it’s working for them; they panic about all kinds of things you’re not in control of. My mother had a great saying, which is a Scottish saying. If you translate it, it’s ‘If it’s for you, it will not go by you.’ And I believe that. I believe that so many actors have to embrace that a little bit more than they do. And sometimes you’ll meet an actor where they’re just trying too hard in their career, and it’s always going to be out of their grasp. What they want to do is to just sit in their truth a bit more and just be a little bit more and allow it to come to them. Of course, it’s a natural thing, because it’s such an insecure profession, so people tend to try to chase things. But when you chase something, the more you chase it, the further away it goes, and the best thing to do is not to do that.”

Kieran Culkin (Roman Roy): Don’t think, just act 

“Sometimes you just do shit because you just do shit. Stop thinking about it, because we’re not usually so aware [of] why we’re doing stuff. Some actors like to really try to understand why it is they make every move, but do you do that in life? No.”

Matthew Macfadyen (Tom Wambsgans): Be a sponge

“It’s odd, acting—because you can do research, but so much of the work is done without you really knowing it, as long as you keep your imagination open. When I work on a part, I don’t sit down and say, ‘Let’s do this and this.’ I don’t try and commit to things or make decisions until the last minute. As an actor, you’re constantly observing, watching, like a magpie; you think, Maybe I could use that—that little thing I saw someone do on CNN.”

Alan Ruck (Connor Roy): Take breaks when you need to

“You just have to take a pause and be with yourself, whether you like it or not, and not pretend to be someone else. Just like: Oh, reality. I remember this. I’ve struggled for [so] long to get away from it. That’s true about actors. We’re kind of missing a chip, in a way; and the way that we can process the world is to pretend to be other people and create our own reality for a little while. And that’s, in some way, what keeps us from going crazy.”

J. Smith-Cameron (Gerri Kellman): Be bold

“When I started acting, I was a drama school purist. I wanted everything to be so completely real and untheatrical. Things can be broader and still be real. That’s the trick: being believable and believing what you’re saying and having your intentions be sincere as a character. Also, I didn’t dare be very ambitious when I was younger. I wanted to see if I could play good parts and make enough money to live, which is not a bad way to be. I’m very proud of my résumé now. I didn’t do years of shitty things. I didn’t try to get day player parts on TV shows. There’s nothing wrong with those parts, but they’re not always thoughtfully written. Whereas if you play Juliet in a regional theater somewhere, that’s a really worthwhile thing that you’ll always reflect back on, and you’ll be proud of what you learned from that.”

Sarah Snook (Shiv Roy): Relate to your character, no matter what 

“Stand behind whatever decision your character makes, even if it’s the wrong one. There’s got to be a reason that they’ve done it in the first place.”

Jeremy Strong (Kendall Roy): Begin again

“I wouldn’t say that I hate acting. I have a ton of joy in the creative process. But the idea, to me, is it’s like you get to be a beginner forever. You have to have a beginner’s mind… People talk about craft, about technique, in a way that makes it sound like these are known quantities, something that someone possesses, and I’ve certainly never felt that way. I wish someone had told me that. I spent many years thinking I was missing something, like some acting chromosome, because I didn’t have a sense of security in terms of, ‘I know how to do this.’ You have to perpetually be a beginner. Every scene, you’re starting from scratch again, and you don’t know what’s going to happen… It’s like you enter into some kind of creative state, and in that moment, all of your preparation and acuity of perception and intuition—hopefully, those things are all firing on all cylinders. I have to do so much work and really saturate myself and my unconscious as much as I can through research, through attuning, in blind exploration and through deeply internalizing the material. You can change, almost molecularly, cellularly, who you are. And when all of those things are done, then you can drop all of it and have a beginner’s mind.”