Actors are weird people who have chosen to make their money by playing make believe for the pleasure of others. Sure, they will tell you it’s about “exposing the truth of the human condition,” but most of them are attention-hungry theater kids, little Tinkerbells who need applause or they will die. Others still will take issue with that metaphor, because they believe Tinkerbell to be one of the great tragic characters in Scottish theater and not some kind of cheap punchline. Which brings us to Succession’s Jeremy Strong.
In a New Yorker profile in this week’s issue, Strong (with the help of many famous people who know him) revealed himself to be one of the most pompous and self-serious actors working today, to the delight of insufferable New Yorker readers looking to feel comparatively normal. In one anecdote, the writer, Michael Schulman, tells Strong that he thinks Succession is a comedy. To which Strong replies, “In the sense that, like, Chekhov is comedy?” To his credit, when you do The Seagull correctly you’re gonna get some laughs, but Succession at its funniest is closer to a Noël Coward farce than, say, Three Sisters. See, I know things too, Jeremy.
Unfortunately for his co-stars, of which only two speak on the record with one declining to be named, he seems like a nightmare to work with. Strong refuses to rehearse because he wants “every scene to feel like I’m encountering a bear in the woods,” he stopped going into the makeup trailer when anyone else was there (“Which I remember making everyone else roll their eyes,” the unnamed cast member said), and, according to Kieran Culkin, he views every scene as a battle. (In his defense, he’s winning.)
Now imagine if Strong had put this energy toward literally any career other than acting. Imagine if he was the guy in your office badgering you to file your expenses, or if he was the guy behind the counter at the rental car office. What if your accountant’s process included self-isolating with your W-2 forms for days at a time until he got inspired? I would probably run away and just not file my taxes that year for fear of being murdered in cold blood.
Unsurprisingly, Strong’s acting heroes are Daniel Day-Lewis, Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman — three men who paved the way for him to fracture his left foot because he ran too hard in Tom Ford dress shoes (which no one asked him to do) and ask Aaron Sorkin to tear gas him for real on the set of Trial of the Chicago 7.
On this beautiful Monday morning, say a little thank you to whichever deity you believe in, because Jeremy Strong chose to direct his energy toward acting and not whatever you do (sorry if you are an actor, but that’s kind of on you). And let’s say a little prayer for all the crew members of Succession, who are definitely not getting paid enough.