We’re toward the end of our interview time when actor Brian Cox, in describing his character’s few but strong loyalties on HBO’s “Succession,” raises his voice to the level most people only hear through the television.
He says those relationships — such as the one with legal counsel Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) — show that Logan is more than “all the bombast.”
“Of course, I shout every now and again. And the REASON I SHOUT,” he says, straining my computer speakers, “is to keep the audience, wake them up, and wake the other actor up.”
“It’s part of his technique,” he says, giving me another high-decibel example. “It’s all part of his little show.”
I joke that actors’ on-screen personas often follow them off-screen in the public’s perception. But he’s unbothered by that.
“I scare people all the time, but I have done even before Logan Roy so it’s nothing unusual to me,” he says. “It’s a kind of hazard that I deal with all the time.”
As he sits there, turning one of TV’s most feared figures off and on like a switch, the acclaim and the awards make even more sense than they did just minutes before: There’s no character on television quite like Logan Roy and there’s no actor who could play him quite like Brian Cox.
The third season of “Succession,” which follows the Roys, a media family inspired by real-life headline makers like the Murdochs, continues the thread of last season — with Logan Roy’s son attempting to pin illegal happenings in the company on his father.
The move, as one might imagine, throws the already delicate family balance once again into a tailspin. The question looming is does Kendall have what it takes to uncrown the king of Waystar Royco.
“If Kendall really does gather some values, which are outside of the domain of Waystar Royco, then I think that’s his salvation,” Cox says. “And it’s going to be interesting to see if he will get those values because he’s so locked into that ambition and the family dynamic, but it needs someone to break it. And unfortunately it has to be one of the children. Logan’s not going to break it because it suits Logan to have this situation.”
For all the family’s drama, though, Cox believes Logan does love his children.
“They mean a lot to him. Unfortunately, they’re consistently disappointing, which I understand,” he says. “I mean, any parent is both in love with their child, but there’s also expecting sometimes too much of them. You know, we’re all guilty of that. We can put terrible pressure on our children in order to validate themselves, you know?”
One things viewers won’t see this season is the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision not to address it was made by showrunner Jesse Armstrong, and Cox sees it as the right call “because we couldn’t become hostages to Covid.”
“Otherwise, it would have been a different show,” he says.
The dysfunctional Roys
The pandemic has, however, “made certain things very, very clear, particularly the position of the rich,” as Cox sees it.
“Eleven minutes up in space. Give me a break. What does that mean?” he says. “You know, Richard Branson, ‘More spaceships’ and you go, ‘No, no, no, we don’t need more spaceships. We need to take care of our world. We need to really look after our world and what our world is and what’s going on.'”
The disparity between the rich and the real world on so many fundamental levels is why he thinks the show continues to have so much intrigue around it.
“The show hits all that because the dysfunctional Roys are a sort of reflection of the dysfunctional elements in wealth in the world,” he says.
Logan’s personal dysfunction — whether he’s is screaming at someone or making some underlings play “Boar on the Floor” — is what Cox says he enjoys most about the role.
“You can’t underestimate Logan in any shape or form because he’s an extraordinary animal,” he says. “Logan, you know, there aren’t very many characters like him in drama. We haven’t seen them. Because he’s relentless. He doesn’t seem to take any prisoners. That’s the joy of playing him.”
All things, of course, will one day come to an end, and Cox says it’s his hope that Logan is around to see it.
“I don’t want to be a killed off before the end of the show. I don’t want to be killed off at all,” he says. “I just want to disappear down a long corridor at the end and go, ‘Bye. I’m off.'”
Well, Logan would probably say something else. But it, too, would end with “off.”
“Succession” begins its third season Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.
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