Nicholas Braun on scene-stealing as Cousin Greg in Succession
We chat to breakout star Nicholas Braun on his role as hapless cousin Greg. In the second season, he’ll come into his own as he holds the key to a big secret.
The whole world is talking about Succession, the bitingly funny HBO drama that follows the dysfunctional but fabulously wealthy Roy family. They control Waystar Royco, the world’s largest media and entertainment conglomerate. Patriarch Logan Roy (Golden Globe nominee Brian Cox) is ageing and ailing, and his four adult children jockey position throughout Season 1. As Season 2 picks up, it may all become a moot point as the family struggles to retain control at all in a rapidly changing landscape.
This Bafta and Emmy Award winner has a great cast but it’s Nicholas Braun who’s been stealing scenes in his breakout role as the newcomer to the family business, cousin Greg Hirsch.
“So I’m kind of the eyes of the outsider. I’m also the poorest member of the family, so people can relate to that”
Why do you think Succession’s so successful?
I think the tone is something that doesn’t really exist out there. There are characters who are compelling and important but you’re also able to laugh at them and find their situation completely ridiculous. Every 20 seconds, they’re able to swing between a dramatic moment and a funny moment. And they’ve created a big ensemble where you care about every little piece of what everybody is going through.
In some corners of the internet Cousin Greg is a bit of a phenomenon. How did that feel?
It’s flattering! It feels good that people understand Greg from the way I’m performing him and they’ve written him. They’ve written a character who’s in this world but is also not from it at all. And that lends itself to people going: ‘Oh my God, that could be me. I could be the clueless one in this world…’
What I love is: I get to enjoy the private jet, going on these trips, going to England, being in a castle, all that stuff. It feels good to feel things, as opposed to most of the characters, who are shutting down their feelings. So I’m kind of the eyes of the outsider. I’m also the poorest member of the family, so people can relate to that too. But this season is cool because you get to see Greg starting to spread his wings and getting more comfortable in that world.
He’s clearly not as naïve as he makes out, or as people think…
Greg hides a lot of his actual cunning side. He finds that he can more easily hang around if he plays dumb. Sometimes I think he doesn’t know how to operate in this world. But he’s started to learn a lot from watching everybody. He’s picking up tools as he’s going on and employing them. Greg is starting to see: ‘OK, how do I do that, in my own way?’ He’s hiding some of that side. But there was a moment with Kendall at the end of the first season – ‘I’ve got some stuff, take a look at me. I’m not to be forgotten here.’
He does become smart…
Yeah. That’s what I like about the way he’s written; he’s written in an ambiguous way. He does a lot of the right things but you’re thinking: ‘Did he mean to do that?’ I like that there’s a question mark about him. That’s why Logan takes a liking to him as well – he sees that this kid is smarter than he looks. I think Logan understands Greg, and empowers him. Even in the very first episode, he sees: ‘OK, this kid’s highly ambitious. Maybe not fully equipped but he gets the game.’ So Greg understands the leverage part of it; he’s just got to catch up to the experience part.
Your scenes with Matthew Macfadyen are very funny. How’s their relationship in Season 2?
Greg’s got the biggest piece of sh*t on Tom. He’s got the thing that could bury him. And Greg doesn’t trust Tom, because he assigned him to do the worst possible criminal thing. So both have these resentments living underneath every scene. This second season is really good for Tom and Greg’s relationship. I won’t say too much but every scene they’ve written is really fun. Their friendship cracks, then it reforms in a different way. Greg’s looking for a better role model, but he’s stuck with this guy for now.