Succession returned to our screens this week, and so did ranch-owning, presidential candidate-aspiring Connor Roy, played by Alan Ruck. The eldest Roy sibling, Connor is often laughed at, dismissed and delusional, especially when announcing his intent to apply for the the most powerful job title in the world – as Roman (Kieran Culkin) suggests, he might want to try working somewhere, literally anywhere, first.
We sat down with Ruck to talk about how Succession became such a cultural phenomenon, what really drives Connor, and the show’s depiction of the Roys’ power over politics:
READ MORE: Succession Season 3 Review
READ MORE: The 20 Best Quotes From Succession
PILOT TV: Alan, congratulations on an incredible third season of Succession****. When you first got the role, and starred in the pilot, did you ever think it would become this huge phenomenon?
ALAN RUCK: No, actually. Because it was HBO, I knew it would be a top notch quality show, but really didn’t know how it would be received. When it was initially released, the reviews were quite mixed, because people didn’t quite know what to make of us. Our producing director, Mark Mylod, he said that we had to put down a lot of railroad track in the first four episodes, because there’s so much story to tell, and it’s so dense. It’s funny because at the very beginning, some critics were like – I don’t know what this show is, and they’re all miserable, and why should I waste my time. And then when it got to around the fifth episode, people said – they finally found their voice! And it was like, no, we knew what we were doing from the beginning, I think that you’ve only just caught on.
This season, Connor’s presidential ambitions become more focused. There’s some very interesting political stuff going on. Is that something that you were thrilled by? The sense that Connor might actually do it?
Yeah, I was thrilled. I mean, this has been an idea since the very beginning, since my first audition, where I first met Adam McKay. So this has been something that Jesse’s [Armstrong, showrunner] been toying with since the very beginning. How far he takes it, I don’t know, but I’ll be very happy to go along for the ride. I have more to do this season. Connor never let go of his political aspirations, even when his old man [Logan, played by Brian Cox] said ‘stop it, you’re embarrassing me’, and ‘I’ll give you the money if you drop this political bit’. Connor never let go of it.
He wants to know – what would make my dad need me? How can I be useful?
It’s so pathetic, but with all the characters, it’s really all about – what would make Daddy proud? I think that’s why people relate to our show, because there’s similar dynamics in every family. Connor’s never had a job in his whole damn life. And now he’s like, well what could I do that would make the old man proud? Or would make him need me? Because Connor’s not needed anywhere, by anyone. And so he wants to know, what would make my dad need me? How can I be useful? He’s not going to let go of that very easily.
Do you think Connor believes in anything? Does he have any big political philosophy?
It’s whatever he hears on the radio. Or whatever he sees when he scrolls on his phone in the morning, and is like, ‘that’s a mess, we gotta clean that up’. Part of his plank is – I’ve got my money; leave me alone. But I do think he’s actually concerned about the environment, because he has this ranch out in New Mexico, and there’s this huge aquifer under the land that’s reducing in size and becoming tainted with different pollutants and so forth, and so there are actually things like that that I think he is concerned about.
In Season 3, we see the Roys’ power and influence over American politics writ large. Does that feel to you like an accurate portrayal of how powerful the media can be?
Follow the money. Yeah. It’s because they all want to be on television, these politicians, and they all think they’re so photogenic [laughs]. But it costs so much money to run a political campaign of any level in the United States that they have to cosy up to some nefarious people sometimes. And the thing that’s true about my country is that there’s still a great deal of naiveté about how the world works. There’s still this sort of holdover image from World War II that’s like ‘we’re the good guys’, and we’re making the world safe for democracy, and it’s like no, we’re opening up markets for all of our corporations, is what we’re doing. And so I think it is quite accurate. Most of our writers are Brits, and I think it takes a more outside point of view to shine a light on what we’re doing, because often we can’t see the forest for the trees. And so we’re lucky that way.
Do you have a favourite scene or line from Season 3 that you can share with us?
I can’t tell you! I don’t know how much you’ve seen. But I have some really delicious stuff towards the end.
Connor is, in some ways, the most abused and put upon of the Roy kids. Is that fun to play?
I’m thrilled to have the part. No it is not fun [laughs]. It’s not fun to be dismissed, even if it’s pretend, you know. But, I think, in this season, and because we’ve been picked up for Season 4 as well, perhaps in days to come, he will find more of his voice.
I get the sense Connor might just have the last laugh.
He might. He’ll at least get his say.