Telly’s most brutal businessman, Logan Roy, is back this week, as HBO’s wildly successful Succession returns to our screens. Starting out as somewhat of a sleeper hit with the first season and becoming an all-out quotable, memeable sensation by the second, Succession’s third series is set to see Logan pushed to his limits, after number one boy Kendall (Jeremy Strong) revealed that he too can be a killer, with that bombshell press conference.

We spoke to Logan himself, Brian Cox, about sharing the season premiere with an audience, what makes the show so special, and the power of the c-word:

PILOT TV: The London Film Festival screening of the first two episodes on Friday was like a rock concert.

BRIAN COX: I was just saying that. Apparently, people were fainting, some woman fainted. I’ve never experienced anything like [it]. My wife said, ‘Brian, this is like a rock concert.’ I mean, I was very proud – particularly because I’m a Brit, so I was very proud of [the audience’s] reaction and their intelligence. They’re so sharp, and they were getting things so quick. There’s a moment which passed everybody by – when I get into the car and Matthew [Macfadyen, who plays Tom] gets out, talking to Shiv [played by Sarah Snook] – and of course it got a huge laugh. Nobody noticed that when we did it, didn’t think it was going to be funny. But they were extraordinary. I’ve never witnessed an evening quite like that.


Towards the end of Season 2, the show had become a phenomenon. Now it’s one of the biggest pop cultural things out there. Did you ever suspect it might be this big?

You know, I had a feeling about it. I got a kind of premonition when it came to my manager. He said, ‘There’s this show…’ And then when I heard it was Jesse [Armstrong, showrunner], and because of, well, the thing that they’ve never seen over there which is The Thick Of It, I just thought this could be extraordinary. That, and the combination of Adam McKay, who was SNL chief writer at one point and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, which he started, the improv group. So with that whole combination of talents, straight away I knew. And also the fact that it’s classics, it’s archetypal, it’s Lear, it’s every major sort of figure who has a family, and Dallas, Dynasty, all of that. So there’s that element to it as well. And it’s also based on the fact that we do have these families. We’ve just witnessed four years of these people who do not deserve any time of day, and we’ve seen them given massive time of day. Hopefully they’ve faded forever and we’ll never see them again, but you can never say never.

It’s a bit like the Colosseum. The Romans got so corrupt with how the games were run. There’s an element of that in Succession.

Indeed. There is a more political element of Season 3, delving into the way the Roys influence American politics. I thought that was a fascinating, slightly new emphasis this time.

Well, it’s true. American politics is in a particularly bad way, I mean it’s really not at all healthy. And it’s also because it’s all ruled by the dollar. This is the thing, money has become the god. You can understand it in the way that for a lot of people, the whole notion of god has failed. They look to substitute. I think they should give him a bit more of a break, or her. But at the moment we are sort of lost, and that’s also why the show is – I think there’s a sort of gladiatorial element. It’s a bit like the Colosseum. The Romans got so corrupt in the way the whole games were run. There’s an element of that in Succession. It’s so reflective of the horrific elements of our society.

I’m always amazed by how incredibly authentic it feels. Every scene, you completely believe everything the characters say. Sometimes it’s quite heightened and incredibly witty, but you make us believe that. Can you put your finger on how Jesse Armstrong and the writers and the crew manage to make it feel so real?

I think it’s because they keep it rooted. Jesse himself is one of the most graceful people I know. He’s so rooted as a man, he’s so unaffected by things, and particularly by the success. He’s an extraordinary man. He’s not swayed by anything, he’s constant – both him and Tony [Roche, writer and producer] and Lucy [Prebble, writer and producer], they’re a phenomenal team. We owe it all to them.


And that’s the great thing about this culture, especially in drama – it’s about the writer, it’s always about the writer. And if the writer is given his or her head, they can do the most extraordinary stuff. It’s neither drama nor is it comedy. It’s this fusion that they’ve created, which is so unique to Jesse and Armando Iannucci. They’ve done it. They’ve sort of broken through a barrier, which is great. When you think about the writing of the ’60s, that broke through a different kind of barrier – the angry young man period – we’ve now got the sort of comically frustrated person.

Are they writing more towards you as actors? I feel particularly like in Season 3, we see Logan at peak anger and fury. It’s so entertaining to watch you doing that.

I know. I asked him to be careful you don’t shoot your bolt too much as Logan. But what is extraordinary is the extreme to which Logan is pushed without having another stroke. We’ll see that as Season 3 culminates. I think some of the most exciting stuff is yet to come. The best is for last, and that’s a great quality of the show.

A couple of years ago, you said that people come up to you and they like you to tell them to fuck off. I see the c-word now is being used more by you. Are people now asking you to call them a cunt?

No, Americans don’t.

Can I be the first?

Yes [laughs]. You can! No, Americans are funny because, as I was saying earlier, they’d sooner ‘bleep’ their mothers than call somebody a ‘c’. I remember I did a play years and years ago where I played a critic, and I had this line: “And the critic’s there, and you’re sitting next to him, and he’s probably a ‘c’.” And I remember the sort of [gasp] that came from the audience. I thought, ‘That’s odd, they can’t deal with the ‘c”. And yet that’s actually a rather good word. If you look at its origins, it’s actually a rather celebratory word, whereas there’s nothing celebratory about ‘beep off’.

READ MORE: Succession Season 3 Review

READ MORE: The 20 Best Quotes From Succession

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