Last fall, Jeremy Strong was outed as a very, very committed actor. A head-turning (and controversial) New Yorker profile detailed the Succession actor’s unusual methods, which involve, among other things, not rehearsing and staying at least somewhat in character. He doesn’t even consider the very funny show he’s on to be a comedy, which, one could argue, makes sense for someone playing angry, anguished Kendall Roy. Now we have some more insight into his methods (which are not, by the way, Method Acting).
Last month, Strong had a new film at the Cannes Film Festival: Armageddon Time, an ‘80s-set drama from The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra auteur James Gray. In the movie, he plays a plumber in Queens, and he, predictably, went above and beyond to prepare for the role. In a chat for Variety between him and his co-star Anne Hathaway (in a bit teased out by The AV Club), they discussed preparing for roles. Hathaway herself pointed out what Strong did before they embodying his character.
“[Your] character was a plumber. And you went to learn how to fix a refrigerator,” she said. “It was a humbling moment for me as an actor to realize that you have more children than I do, and you were coming off of this huge lift. Plumber is a trade. It’s something that you can go and learn.”
Strong himself did not discuss his prep, nor did he reveal how one fixes a refrigerator. He did, though, delve into finding his Succession scion. But he didn’t go as far as he went for Armageddon Time, partly because there wasn’t much he could find, education-wise.
“I think each time, you’re starting from nothing. Right? It tells you how to work on it and you follow the line of your intuition,” Strong told Hathaway. “Of course, I read everything possible to read on the media-industrial complex. So there’s a lot of well water to draw from, but nothing for character. Very little for character.”
Mind you, Strong is very, very far from the first actor to learn a trade for a role. Daniel Day-Lewis is famously hands-on. He even learned how to build 17th century houses while prepping for the 1996 film of The Crucible. People were shocked by the Strong New Yorker profile, but it’s worth remembering that no one freaks out over the erstwhile Reynolds Woodcock. Besides, learning how to fix a refrigerator can come in handy.