Matthew Macfadyen on his role as Tom Wambsgans in SuccessionWatch full episodes now
As Tom Wambsgans, Matthew Macfadyen is conniving and clumsy at the same time. He talks about his role in HBO comedy-drama Succession.
The bitingly funny HBO drama Succession, now streaming on Showmax, follows the dysfunctional Roy family who control Waystar RoyCo, one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world. In the series, Matthew Macfadyen has become a fan favourite playing son-in-law and perpetual outsider Tom Wambsgans.
With patriarch Logan Roy (Golden Globe nominee Brian Cox) ageing and ailing, his four adult children jockeyed for position throughout Season 1. As Season 2 picks up, the Roys are struggling to retain control of their empire in a rapidly changing media landscape…
Matthew Macfadyen (aka Mr Darcy in Pride & Prejudice) won a 2020 Emmy as Tom Wambsgans, a Waystar RoyCo employee who’s in a relationship with Logan’s only daughter Shiv (multi-award-winning Australian actress Sarah Snook from The Dressmaker).
We recently caught up with Matthew to find out more about Tom, who The New Statesman recently described as “a character in whom a brown-nose and a bully have achieved a state of perfect coexistence.”
Tom Wambsgans snapshot: His best moments, including his bachelor party and that black eye, quotes and the actor who plays him
- Tom hails from Minnesota and didn’t come from money. His efforts to fit into the family are sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing.
- Tom’s wild bachelor party, organised by Roman, had everyone talking. He got up to some questionable antics with Tabitha, who makes a return to the series as Roman’s girlfriend.
- Questionable antics seem to be his thing – the internet was abuzz at his black eye in S1E6. It seems that Shiv gave him the injury in the bedroom.
- He has some great quotes, but here’s one of our favourites: “Here’s the thing about being rich, okay? It’s f*****g great. It’s like being a superhero, only better. You get to do what you want — the authorities can’t really touch you. You get to wear a costume, but it’s designed by Armani and it doesn’t make you look like a prick.”
- He’s played by British actor Matthew Macfadyen.
How would you describe Succession?
I never know how to classify the show. I think it’s a drama, with funny bits – I wouldn’t say it was a comedy, but as an actor you play it straight, always. Life is ludicrous and preposterous and hilarious, so, yeah, it’s a drama.
How would you describe Tom Wambsgans?
He thinks he’s quite heroic and decent and funny and hard-working. He thinks he’s a good husband and a good boss. Tom loves Shiv – but I think he knows that he’s probably punching above his weight a little bit with her. And he’s struggling with their new marriage arrangement – probably more than he’s letting on. He behaves dreadfully at times, but there’s something quite sweet about him as well.
Where are things headed for Tom in Season 2?
He and Shiv moved apartment and are ploughing on with their life together and their plan, which is him shinning up the greasy pole at work and her perhaps following Gil Eavis into politics and the White House – or going towards the family firm. That’s their life and business plan… And him and Greg [fan favourite Nicholas Braun] are still jousting – a little less, perhaps. There’s still a bit of friction but they’re working more as a team – a little bit.
Tom Wambsgans is Machiavellian and clownish at the same time. Did you think it would stretch a different acting muscle?
Absolutely, although I didn’t know he was going to be like that. In the pilot he wasn’t really – he was like an affable idiot. But there’s one scene at the improvised baseball match where he turns on Greg. It’s only one scene but it was an inkling of this weird bully he might be. When we got picked up, it was only then that weird aspect of Tom revealed itself.
Doing the scenes, are you cracking up?
Hopelessly! Awful. Cracking up throughout. Lot of corpsing going on, especially with Nick and Sarah. It’s really bad. Really unprofessional!
Sarah is Australian and you’re British. Do you and Sarah help each other with the American accents?
Yeah. The Aussie and the Brit, in a sea of Americans…It’s very tiring… It’s like talking in another language sometimes.
Do you see Rupert Murdoch in Logan Roy?
Sure. Yeah. Bits of that, and you see Lear. It’s quite Greek. The tyrannical father. It’s a family thing. When we were shooting it, we thought, ‘These guys are not terribly attractive and is anyone going to want to watch a show about these fairly unpleasant, wealthy people?’ But they’re not inhuman; they’re just in a certain situation.
But more than that, it’s about family. That’s what’s interesting ultimately. It’s the eternal thing of the parent, the matriarch or patriarch, not allowing their offspring to flourish for whatever reason. They’re not really showing them love in the right way. It’s interesting because none of the kids really have any self-confidence in the true way because Logan doesn’t give them any. It’s awful, really.
Matthew Macfadyen bio: His age, marriage and relationships – including Keeley Hawes and rumours about Keira Knightley – and his past TV and movie roles
- Matthew Macfadyen as born in Norfolk in the UK on 17 October 1974. He is 47.
- He’s a renowned theatre actor, and found fame in period pieces such as Wuthering Heights (1998) and as Mr Darcy in 2005 film Pride and Prejudice.
- He starred in Brit crime drama Spooks, where he met his current wife Keeley Hawes on set. They’ve been married since 2004 and have two children.
- There’s no truth to rumours about Matthew and his Pride and Prejudice co-star Keira Knightley. They’re just good friends.