When Strong auditioned for “Succession,” he prepared heavily. He even read a biography of Rupert Murdoch to glean details about his children. One in particular stood out — the media titan’s son tied his shoes very tightly — an indication of his “inner tensile strength,” Strong said.
Despite his best efforts, series creator Jesse Armstrong wasn’t sure that Strong had mastered Kendall’s dialogue when he first auditioned. However, once Armstrong told him to “loosen up the language,” his performance came to life.
“It was about, like, Beastie Boys-ing it up,” the actor remembered. “I was missing the patois of bro-speak.” Once he got the hang of Kendall’s tone, Strong landed the role.
Being strung too tight almost cost him the part, but it also made Strong just like his character. The actor treats his character’s life with grave sincerity, the same way that Kendall approaches his own ambitions.
“To me, the stakes are life and death,” he explained. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.”
In fact, Strong takes his role so seriously that it’s raised concern among his castmates. “After the first season, he said something to me like, ‘I’m worried that people might think that the show is a comedy,'” Culkin recalled. “And I said, ‘I think the show is a comedy.’ He thought I was kidding.”
Strong’s deathly serious approach is exactly why McKay knew he would be perfect to play Kendall. “That’s exactly why we cast Jeremy in that role,” he revealed. “Because he’s not playing it like a comedy. He’s playing it like he’s Hamlet.”