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Filthy-Rich Facts About Succession, HBO’s Newest Hit

Andrea Papillon

So you’re a scriptwriter with an idea about the main character growing up dirt-poor in Dundee, Scotland…where on Earth do you go from there? If you’re the creator of Succession and you’ve previously written another script about a real-life billionaire media family you’ve got plenty of material to go on. Succession has been drawing fans in increasing droves with riveting, bloodthirsty, and dialogue-rich storylines. Here are 42 loaded facts about Succession and its cast.


1. Pre-Succession Plan

Succession is the creation of executive producer and showrunner Jesse Armstrong. Apparently, the show is purely fictional—yet there’s an interesting backstory. Prior to developing Succession, Armstrong had also penned a script about the real-life Murdoch family’s media empire. It never got produced, but comparisons between the real-life Murdochs and the fictional Roys have inevitably occurred.

2. One of the Best Scripts You’ll Never See

In 2010, Armstrong’s reality-tinged script about Rupert Murdoch made the Hollywood Black List of best unproduced screenplays. Armstrong’s script had the added distinction of being called the strangest work on the 2010 list.

3. How’d He Know That?

Producer Adam McKay knew Succession had to be centered around a media conglomerate. He said families in that world are the “most interesting and the most dramatic.” Sounds like someone imagining they’re a fly on the wall in the Murdoch manse.

4. Who Are These Murdochs Anyway?

Rupert Murdoch is a worldwide media mogul who runs channels like Fox News in the US and Sky in the UK. He’s a very similar patriarch to the fictional Logan Roy, most notably in the fact that he seems to be hell-bent on never stepping down. At 88 years old, Murdoch is still going strong at the helm of his empire.

5. Like a Rolling Stone

It’s not all stuffed-shirt business stuff when it comes to Murdoch. He actually made an honest woman of Jerry Hall in 2016. She was his fourth wife. Hall and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger had previously shacked up from 1977 to 1999, but they never got hitched.

6. Diner Trash Talk

When hipsters say a phrase from a TV show has reached immortal status in the lexicon, you know you’re onto something. Succession has already sprung multiple forever classic lines, including the frontrunner: “you can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs.”

7. Tomelette Origin Story

If you’re an origin story type, the line “you can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs” refers to an email chain between the Tom Wambsgans and cousin Gregory characters that comes to light during fictional congressional hearings into the shady Waystar Royco cruise ship scandal.

8. Not Safe for Prime-Time Lines

You can’t beat Succession for droll lines that, without a shadow of a doubt, cross into vicious NSFW territory. There are webpages devoted to the “best insults and threats” from particular episodes that fans love to chew on. Do the words “Hello? Is this the Replicant Department? My meat puppet stopped working” ring any bells?

9. Little Ratings, Big World

Don’t be concerned if you’re just catching up on the hugely addictive and entertaining Succession. The show’s ratings in its first season were described as “fairly low” and even “minuscule.” That hasn’t stopped a groundswell of fan support for Succession that rivals fan-favorite shows like Breaking Bad. And the good news is that the Season 2 premiere scored a record-high 1.2 million viewers for the series.

10. It’s Reached the Twitterverse

When the fandom goes digital, you know they’re diehard. Succession has a small but growing Twitter following at @ClubSuccession.

Rating

11. The Language of Contortionists

Critics and fans alike swoon over how well-written Succession is. One reviewer noted how the writing creatively bends the English language, using this Kendall quote as an example: “Words are just nothing…complicated airflow.”

12. Not Ready for Retirement

Actor Brian Cox plays Logan Roy, head of the Waystar Royco media empire. Simultaneously described as stubborn, ruthless, and cantankerous, the aging character doesn’t hide a lack of civility either. Roy is known for signing off on meetings with expletive-ridden putdowns. In real life, Cox is known for his acting credits and his charity work, donating his time to film PSAs in Britain for organizations devoted to assisting seniors and the aged.

13. Commander Cox

Logan Roy may rule over a media empire on Succession, but actor Cox was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in December 2002.

14. Depression? Not on My Watch

Brian Cox seems like a pleasant bloke, and he’s revealed what helps him to stay happy. Cox said he never ever watches his onscreen performances, saying it would be too “madly depressing” if he did!

15. Don’t Macaulay Him That

Actor Kieran Culkin obviously delights in playing Roman Roy on Succession, a character best described as lazy, snarky, and arrogant—but Culkin’s youth was far from pampered or privileged. Culkin’s brother Macaulay, of Home Alone fame, was the first of seven siblings to achieve stardom.  Culkin has described their home life prior to Macaulay’s success as wildly abnormal, and he’s said that he never warranted much interest from his father, since he wasn’t the kid bringing in the paycheck.

16. Gone Gregory

Kieran Culkin wasn’t supposed to read for Roman Roy. The producers thought he’d make a better cousin Gregory. Culkin, though, felt a resonance with the Roy character that he still can’t quite explain—or he doesn’t want to explain—especially considering “the kind of guy” that Roman is, in Culkin’s words.

17. The Snookie Monster

Actress Sarah Snook plays daughter Siobhan (Shiv) Roy on Succession, a faux-Liberal character brimming with hunger, manipulation, and a disdain for anyone in need. Snook has amassed an impressive filmography and she’s studied at prestigious drama schools in her native Australia. So, how does Snook define success? Well, as she says, if you can make it as a children’s party fairy, as she once did, you can make it anywhere.

18. A Free Trip Eases the Nerves

Sarah Snook felt like she wouldn’t get the part she was auditioning for in Succession, but she didn’t stress at all about the audition. She considered the whole process just another audition and thought of it as a free trip to L.A.

19. Ruck and Roll

Actor Alan Ruck plays the oldest Roy son Connor in Succession, but he’s most famous for playing hypochondriac high school student Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It always bugged Ruck that people only recognized him from that film. Now that Ruck has gone on to other things, he’s pleased with the cultural impact of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and the Cameron notoriety just rolls off him.

20. He Almost Rucked It Up

Alan Ruck nearly blew his chance to audition for Succession. He was at his kid’s music class, where parents were instructed to leave their phones in their cars. When Ruck turned his phone on again, there were multiple messages waiting, telling him to get his butt over to the producer’s house for a reading ASAP!

21. Let’s Just Forget the Last Ten Years Happened

Ruck is accustomed to playing younger characters. When he played Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he was 29 years old. But Succession takes it up a notch. Ruck’s character Connor is written as 10 years younger than Ruck is, while Brian Cox’s character Logan is written a decade older than Cox is.

22. Stronger than Fiction

Actor Jeremy Strong is a Yale graduate who appears as Kendall Roy in Succession. Strong has appeared in many biographical films or films based on true events, including Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Selma, Parkland, Molly’s Game, The Big Short, and Black Mass.

23. Bringing Strength to the Role

Strong is used to bringing truthful material to the screen and in the Kendall Roy character, he says he uses his real-life experience growing up in gritty inner-city Boston and managing to get himself into a private school to infuse his character’s ambitions.

24. The Co-Producer Is Kind of a Big Deal

It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that comedian Will Ferrell serves as co-producer on Succession. Director Adam McKay is Ferrell’s production partner. Their other production credits include Talladega Nights, The Big Short, Vice…and the Anchorman movies, of course!

25. Location, Location, Location

Succession is filmed on location in New York City, adding a glamorous pulse to the show’s exterior shots. Patriarch Logan Roy’s apartment is supposedly on Billionaires’ Row, an actual array of super-luxurious residential skyscrapers along the southern end of Central Park.

26. Fake It to Make It

Logan Roy’s Manhattan residence on Billionaires’ Row certainly looks larger than life. Maybe because it is! The stunning décor, spiral staircases, and marble floors are all found on the show’s set, located at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City.

27. Antiquity Ville

Hit up the great state of Connecticut if you’re looking to do some rad antiquing. The set designer on Succession apparently scoured through high-end “antique centers” in Westport and Stamford, Connecticut, to buy set pieces and add an authentic feel to the show.

28. Room With a View

Like the interior of Roy’s apartment on Billionaires’ Row, some of the office scenes in Succession are filmed on a soundstage. But some office scenes are filmed in available areas at One World Trade Center, especially when the scene requires a stunning view.

29. What’s My Line Again?

Succession creator Armstrong says he’ll often tell the cast to throw in ad-lib bits during big group dialogue scenes in the script. Armstrong added that much of the show’s best comedic lines have manifested that way.

30. Oh No…Not Another Jolly Green Giant Audition

Nicholas Braun is brilliant as cousin Greg on Succession. But the actor has been challenged in finding great roles before—strictly due to his ceiling-scraping 6’7” height!

31. He Needs a Supercouple Nickname

Of all the Succession actors, Braun’s castmates apparently think he’s most like his Greg character. Cox (Logan Roy) has even said that “Nick is almost indistinguishable” from Greg. Is that an insult or a compliment?

32. A Caustic Bromance

Fans love the interactions between Tom and Greg on Succession, and critics took to calling them a pair of scene stealers. There are webpages devoted to the top Tom and Greg moments on the show, including “Deck Shoes,” “Speakerphone,” “Mask Shame, Heighten Pleasure” “Greg’s Principles,” and “The Student Becomes the Master.”

33. Roman Would Eat This Up

Rory Culkin received an Emmy nom for Best Supporting Actor after the first season of Succession. He was the only actor on the show to get recognized at that point. Wouldn’t Roman Roy get an arrogant kick out of that!

34. That’s No Way to Treat a Princess

Shiv and Tom’s wedding was shot at princess-y Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, England and the place is apparently open for public visits. But on the show, their relationship is playing out more like regal tabloid fodder. Lowbrow Tom has been clapping back at Shiv, who has Cruella DNA with a broken Cinderella gene if you ask me. Take their recent yacht pit stop in “Divorce Cove,” Croatia as an obvious example.

35. Go Nuts, Young Man

Jeremy Strong totally improvised the scene when his character Kendall had a violent breakdown with director McKay’s support and blessing. Strong has revealed that he followed his “line of intuition” as an actor, and the blistering scene was filmed in just one take.

36. Bill Threw Some Pitches

Braun (cousin Greg) once ended up at some chichi party in the Hamptons where he met Bill Clinton. Braun said that Clinton had some stellar storyline ideas, and the former president wanted to pitch them to the show.

37. A Readthrough Day That Will Live in Infamy

The newly formed cast of Succession had its first script read-through on Election Day 2016, lending an even more relevant—and probably slightly ominous—tone to the proceedings.

38. Death Doesn’t Become Him

Few fans know, but Logan Roy was supposed to be written out of Succession early on. The character became so perversely popular that the show’s creators have kept him on.

39. No Odds Here

Hiam Abbass plays Marcia Roy, Logan’s third wife on Succession, and her character is often at odds with stepdaughter Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook). In real life, Abass and Snook are close friends who greatly admire each other’s work.

40. Check Please

There’s quite a bit of viewer debate over the net worth of the fictional Roy family, but superfans put Logan Roy’s wealth in the $15 billion range. Alright then, guess they’re buying lunch.

41. Look Out! She Got a Friends Haircut

Fashion mags, style bloggers, and the Twitterverse were freaking out when Shiv traded her hippy-dippy long hair for an angled “lob” haircut that screams “give me your media company.” Seriously, they’re saying it’s the new Rachel cut. The most noteworthy celebrity emulator? Ivanka Trump got basically the same haircut within weeks.

42. The Legend of Greg

Legend of Greg may sound more like a Monty Python reboot…but these days, cousin Greg actor Braun is whipping up normal folk and jaded superstars into a frenzy. His mystique is built around the fact that he’s the total underdog and since it’s human nature to root for someone even questionably decent with a pulse, Greg is becoming our chosen one.

At the same party in the Hamptons where Braun talked storyline-shop with Bill Clinton, he also apparently sidled up to Paul McCartney with some lame line about digging his pants. Braun and McCartney ended up chatting for ages. It really does sound exactly like the kind of situation cousin Greg would stumble into.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23


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