What does it say about the state of things that the idea of Connor Roy (Alan Ruck) running for President within the world of Succession feels like a glove-perfect fit? That sense that consequences are for poor people, obliviousness is an asset, and that mediocrity always rises.
Previously insipid and often out of view, Connor and his politically aspirant rumblings have grown stronger and louder in season 3. His eye is on a really big prize right now while everyone else in his family scrambles while trying to deal with the fallout of Kendall’s very public and very messy separation from the inner circle of the Roy family and the business at its center. As has often been his cross to bear, no one seems to be taking his intentions seriously, though a few words of consideration from Logan at the end of the most recent episode likely meant the world to the prospect of candidate Connor, even if it may have been head game and a bit of a show from a master player.
What now, though? Uproxx spoke with Ruck, the actor behind Connor, to get a sense of where Connor’s head has been this season and to get his take on what kind of President Connor Roy would be.
I really want to talk about Connor and his political aspirations, but the first question is just going into this season, how has Connor changed in terms of his relationship to the family?
I think what has happened with Connor is that he’s decided he’s going to do this thing. He’s made up his mind that he’s going to run for office, that he’s going to run for POTUS. And I was talking to somebody else, I said, “It’s like the Dunning-Kruger effect. It never occurs to him that he has no aptitude.” It’s just like, in a way it’s true. It’s a thing that has turned into a popularity contest.
And I think that’s how Connor views it right now. It’s just if you get enough people to like you, you can be President of the United States. And you’ll figure out your platform somewhere down the road. You’ll figure out what your ideology is as you go along. And I think that Connor has just finally accepted the fact that the only way to get ahead in this family or in this corporation is to play dirty and to use whatever it is you have. If you have some information about the old man and the way he treated Connor’s mother, whatever that might be, it’s just let him know that you’re getting serious. And he’s been… The black sheep [label] would indicate that he’s a bad boy in some way. It’s just that Connor has never added to the family brand, to the luster of the family. So he’s just been pushed to the back for decades. And I think he’s just decided that he’s going to go for broke and he’s going to do whatever it takes to try to get what he wants.
Is that fulfilling to play that kind of turn, not a “heel turn,” but to play great scenes like the back and forth between Connor and Shiv in the “Retired Janitors of Idaho” episode when you were looking to get some time with Logan?
Yeah, I mean, yeah. When I auditioned for this show, the little email from the agency said, “Connor, the only child by the first marriage, not involved actively in the family business. This part will grow over time,” is the way it was described. And I had some things to do in the first season. In the second season, I was around, but I didn’t do that much. And now I have more to do again. And if you think about it, if you sit around and people are just dismissive of you, even if it’s just a character, it gets under your skin. People say, “You’re an idiot. Shut up. That’s stupid. Just be quiet, go away.” So to finally get a chance to snap back at some of this stuff is, yeah, it’s very satisfying to actually engage.
Is it a leap of faith to go into a show and see that “will grow over time” note and have faith? Because obviously shows change course all the time.
Well, sure. But I mean, when anybody says HBO, well, the chances are this is going to be a really good show because they’re the standard-bearers. And so I was very excited that it was an HBO show. And then I heard that Brian [Cox] was involved and this character is a member of the family. So yeah. But I mean, it was a pretty safe bet that it was going to be a good gig.
What kind of President would Connor be?
Well, there’s not a lot of depth to the platform right now. He basically doesn’t want to pay taxes. So in terms of that, he’s as far to the right as anybody else in the family, certainly. But then he’s concerned about the environment basically because he has this ranch and his aquifer underneath his vast property is diminishing and becoming tainted with pollutants. And so now, because it’s affecting Connor, he thinks it’s… and it is a world-class problem, but he thinks that everybody should take this very seriously. It’s a very serious problem. But if he didn’t have that ranch and he didn’t know anything about the water supply, he wouldn’t care. He has a very short attention span. So I think the country would hold its breath for four years.
And pass out. Would he be happy in the job of President because of all the luxury he’s experienced and the life that he’s led, where he hasn’t really had to be held accountable and hasn’t really had to work fully?
I think he would be very happy for a short period of time. And then I think he would just say, “When do I get a day off?” And, “Can’t somebody else, can’t Maxim Pierce (Mark Linn-Baker) handle this for me?” I think he’d be very pleased with all the pomp and pageantry at the beginning and then the excitement of meeting all these powerful people. And then I think he would quickly become fatigued.
Not to give anything away but, with this last episode, it’s very clear that there’s obviously another candidate that gets the rose from the family. For Connor and his political aspirations, is that episode a beginning or an end?
I think it’s a continuance. I just think, he lost a battle, but the war is still going on. I don’t think he’s given up.
Is this something where he has to have the support of the family to do it? Or is it something where he would potentially go it alone?
I mean, I think there are different places to find money and different ways to get money and maybe different ways to get money out of the family. And so I don’t think it’s the end and I certainly think that he’s made up his mind to do this and he’s going to try by any means necessary. So if that means going third party, he’d do that. I’m not saying that’s going to happen.
No, no. I get it. I don’t want HBO assassins to jump in through the window.
No, they’re around, man.
Oh, sure. So I’ve heard people say that this show and shows like Billions are not relatable because you’re dealing with titans. Why do you think the show connects so well? Because to me, the relatability [criticism] doesn’t necessarily scan.
Right. I think it’s something that everybody can relate to and that’s family dynamics. And in any larger family, it doesn’t matter what the economic station is, just the dynamics between siblings. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be a wealthy family where everybody wanted to get the old man’s approval. Everybody was still looking for daddy’s love. So I think that’s how people relate to our show more than anything. Because they’re, I mean, what a wretched bunch of people. I mean so, the relatability, I agree with you. I don’t think you have to relate to them in that way, but it’s just, maybe it’s the family.
Connor’s still the best of them, but he’s still an absolute monster.
Yeah. He’s a sociopath. I mean, he has no idea of how the world really works.
As someone who I’m sure watches the show too, do you want to see these people pay for their sins and to have consequences? Just as a viewer.
Well, I mean, I think you always want to see an asshole get his comeuppance. But I do think that our show tries to hold a mirror up to nature. The thing is these people rarely do pay the price. I really can’t think of an instance actually, at least nothing comes to mind. And so I think that would be really satisfying if somebody got their nose rubbed in shit, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.
‘Succession’ airs every Sunday at 9PM ET on HBO