18 May 2023
Nicholas Braun on Cousin Greg and the final season of Succession
Succession is eight episodes into its fourth and final season on Showmax, and it’s going out with a bang. Created by Oscar nominee Jesse Armstrong (Veep), Succession has already won 13 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series in 2020 and 2022, but Season 4 may just be its most loved yet, with Indiewire hailing it as “the end all, be all of TV.” Episode 3, Connor’s Wedding, still has a 9.9/10 rating on IMDb from over 26 000 people, and this week’s spectacular election night stunner, America Decides, is close behind with a 9.6/10 rating, as we brace for the penultimate, funeral-themed episode this Monday, 22 May 2023.
We spoke to Nicholas Braun about his Emmy-nominated role as the scene-stealing Roy cousin, Greg Hirsch, who, after this week’s episode, can now claim to have played a key role in the election of the President of the United States of America.
Watch the trailer for Succession Season 4
What are your feelings on this being the final season of Succession?
I have mixed emotions about it. I think the season is so incredible. The stuff that all the characters, [including] my character, get to go through is just amazing. So I feel very content creatively. But I’ll miss this crew a lot. These actors, this crew we worked with, some since the pilot, they are the best!
There was a shorthand that came with working together for so long. They knew what Greg wanted to drink at a party. They knew what tie I would probably choose. They knew when I wanted to get a haircut. Things like that. There’s just an ease to it. So that’s kind of an amazing thing to have to give up.
How was the news broken to the cast that it was the last run?
We knew before we started shooting the season that there was a big chance of the show being over. Jesse kind of set that up for us. He never said, “It’s one-hundred percent.” And even at the last table read, he didn’t say, “one-hundred percent”. But he was like, “Unless something brilliant hits me in the next year and I feel like going another round, this will be it.” But he’s always left that little asterisk on top.
What’s the state of the relationship between Tom and Greg, the self-styled Disgusting Brothers, at the start of this season?
I think they’re feeling really good, like they’re at the top. They’re aligned with Logan. They’re on the side with all the momentum, all the power. It’s the side that probably can’t be beat.
Tom has a bigger job, with more responsibility. And Greg is right there with him. And with Tom loosely separated from Shiv, I think he’s feeling pretty free. And wants to get a bit disgusting.
How has it been working so closely with Matthew Macfadyen over these four series?
It’s just an incredible partnership we’ve got there. We have so much to look forward to every episode. So many scenes that we know are going to be fun to play.
I love him as a person. I love how he lives his life off-set. He’s a real family man. And I look up to him. And then on-set, I’ve learned a lot from him as an actor. We’ve tried a lot of things. It felt constantly experimental, and I knew I could trust him. He knew he could trust me. We’ll try some sh*t and see what works. That feels good.
Ultimately, what’s been your favourite scene, over these 40 episodes and 40 hours, to film?
There’s a scene on the yacht, where everybody is [present] – the big roundtable scene where everybody’s talking about who should be the “head on a stick” or however Logan describes it. Who should take the hit for the scandal in the cruises [division]. And it was a really beautiful acting experience. It’s probably a 10-15-page scene, with all of our main characters sitting around this table.
The writing is amazing – it’s like a long scene in a play – you can see how clearly these actors understand their character. So even if they pop in for two or three lines, like Frank or Karl, it was just so specific. It felt like a table full of actors who are excellent. That was a beautiful, beautiful scene to be a part of.
The wasabi scene, that’s one of the best scenes I think we’ve ever done too. I’ve never had wasabi in my eye; I would imagine it’s horrible. But if you don’t have saline or anything, I would guess LaCroix is a pretty good backup… The election episode is a spectacular episode. It’s just an incredible script and it’s nonstop; the pace is crazy.
You’ve said that with Greg, you played with his side parting, the length of his tie, the darkness of his suit, to create character. What can we divine in this series, with Greg’s shorter haircut and darker suit, about where he is psychologically?
Greg’s feeling pretty slick at the beginning of this season. He’s got a bigger role at ATN. I see him as a guy who now goes to the gym, has a membership at [the luxury fitness company] Equinox. And he’s trying to look like a more complete man in this business world. He’s got more responsibility – he’s overseeing other people, so I think he feels like a mini-boss. A mini-Tom perhaps.
And, yeah, I’m still very much into those specifics. Choosing the suits: the brands of the suits matter and the price of the suits matter. Same with shoes, and watches. Greg acquired another watch or two in the period [between seasons] we haven’t seen him in. So he’s definitely got some more money coming in now, a bigger salary.
How have you changed as an actor over these four seasons and seven years?
Because this writing is so elevated, I think it’s trained me to read a script differently. Just to be more thoughtful and look for more detail. Jesse and the writers, they write with so much context from years and years and hundreds of scenes [and] history for the character. They pack in so much humour and intention. I never want to miss an opportunity they give Greg in the writing.
And then making big decisions for yourself. You’re in a big cast, you can’t run every decision by Mark Mylod or [another] director or Jesse. You have to make strong choices for yourself. So I liked coming in with my three, four options of how to play this scene and knowing what I might try those first few takes. And if one of them that I thought was going to be great doesn’t work, then I know Jesse or Mark will be able to help me find it.
I trust Jesse’s instincts completely. He would always know what would calibrate the scene, or my performance, to land right where the writing needed it to be.
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