Actor Brian Cox On The Success Of 'Succession'
With David Folkenflik
Brian Cox plays a ruthless patriarch and media titan on HBO’s hit show “Succession.” His next role is LBJ on Broadway. He joins us.
Brian Cox, actor who stars in HBO’s “Succession” as Logan Roy, the aging patriarch of a global media conglomerate. He also stars as President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Broadway play “The Great Society,” which opens Oct. 1.
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Vox: “The rise of Succession, TV’s new must-watch show” — “Things have gone from bad to worse to worse to worse for Kendall Roy, the would-be tycoon and formerly most trusted son of Logan Roy, the media titan whose family sits at the center of HBO’s marvelous Succession.
“Kendall’s efforts to oust his dad from the CEO chair unraveled multiple times. He started using again, feeding a drug addiction that became a tabloid scandal when he last was consumed by it. His former marriage is now completely broken, and his kids seem to barely know him. And just when he thought he might be able to stand up to his domineering father, tragic circumstance conspired to draw him ever closer to the family he longed to shed like an ill-fitting skin.
“And that was just in season one. The moment that crystallizes how far Kendall has fallen comes halfway through season two. After a night of genuine connection with another person with addiction, he wakes up to find the sheets of his bed caked in his own shit. As a visual metaphor, it’s perhaps a bit too cheeky — Kendall shits the bed again! But the way he simply sighs and gets on with his life is telling.”
Slate: “Being Laughable Doesn’t Make Succession’s Characters Any Less Dangerous” — “With only one win for creator Jesse Armstrong’s writing, HBO’s Succession was a relatively minor presence at this past Sunday’s Emmy Awards. That likely won’t be the case next year. With its 2019 season opening to record ratings, laudatory reviews, and a greater presence in social media conversations, Succession has clearly come into its own in its sophomore year and is all but certain to be a leading contender in most drama categories at the 2020 Emmys. At which point an old argument is likely to resume: Should Succession be competing as a drama at all? Isn’t it actually a comedy?
“Succession’s proper categorization has been the subject of much discussion since its debut last year. The story of the Roy family, the primary owners of the corporate empire Waystar Royco (which comprises a Fox News–like media network as well as amusement park and luxury cruise divisions), seems at first glance to be a prestige-drama staple: the King Lear–style power struggle. Four adult children—shrewd-but-broken Kendall (Jeremy Strong), even-more-shrewd-but-self-sabotaging Shiv (Sarah Snook), miserably-self-aware jackass Roman (Kieran Culkin), and irrelevant doofus Connor (Alan Ruck)—vie against one another over which will succeed their powerful-but-fading father, Logan (Brian Cox), as the head of the kingdom-corporation. Blue-chip prestige helmers like Mark Mylod direct scenes in multiple gorgeously art-directed locations, and the storylines delve into family trauma and power brokering in smoke-filled rooms. All of that seems to add up to a show that belongs in the drama category.
“At the same time, though … it’s hilarious. The Roy children are constantly equivocating their way through situations where they’re clearly out of their depth. Audience-favorite supporting characters Tom Wambsgans (Shiv’s husband, played by Matthew Macfadyen) and Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) are already a bickering double act for the ages. Recapping sites and podcasts are spoiled for choice of withering put-downs to celebrate. More than one viewer has pointed out that Succession often plays like a bizarrely somber take on Arrested Development, with an analogous version of nearly every character from that celebrated sitcom. Considered on a macro episode-by-episode level, Succession is a dark tragedy about the abuses of the super-rich and the legacies of family dysfunction. But the minute-to-minute experience of watching it isn’t that different from Veep or Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
New York Times: “‘The Great Society,’ About L.B.J., Is Coming to Broadway” — “As soon as the Tony-winning ‘All the Way’ closed on Broadway, the playwright, Robert Schenkkan, turned his attention to the sequel.
“Five years, endless rewrites and several productions later, that new play, ‘The Great Society,’ is coming to Broadway.
“The producer Jeffrey Richards announced on Thursday that he would present a 12-week run of the play, starting Sept. 6, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater (which, although located at Lincoln Center, is considered a Broadway house).
“The play will star Brian Cox (“Succession”) as President Johnson, and the production will be directed by Bill Rauch, who also directed ‘All the Way.’ ”
Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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