In late 2021, The New Yorker published a head-turning profile of Jeremy Strong, the very serious actor who gained fame as Kendall, the very serious son on the very funny HBO drama Succession. The piece painted Strong as more than just committed; it showed that he had a habit of staying in character, which perplexed and even slightly annoyed some of his castmates. The profile earned a fair amount of pushback for making him seem like a bit of a weirdo when he simply takes his job seriously. Now it turns out he’s a bit more committed to the role than previously reported.
In a new interview with W Magazine (in a bit teased out by The AV Club), Strong talks about his last year’s very good film Armageddon Time, in which he plays a sometimes explosive father to a kid growing up in early ‘80s Queens. His starmaking show, set to return in sometime in the spring, inevitably came up, which is when he supplied a piece of his methodology not known before.
“I don’t know if it’s a skill or secret, but fashion is a passion,” Strong revealed. “I pick out all the wardrobe for Kendall Roy, my character in Succession, and I live in those clothes when we’re shooting the show. The clothes maketh the man, and aesthetics are so personal.”
That green turtleneck with the trying-too-hard-to-be-hip chain he wears in the hilarious Season 3 episode “Too Much Birthday”? Presumably his idea.
Strong also reveals going to unusual lengths for his Armageddon Time role. (Note: We already knew he learned how to fix a refrigerator for it.) The film is inspired by an incident in director James Gray’s childhood, which meant Strong was effectively playing his dad. He had trouble getting a lock on the character, but one way in was finding the voice. Gray, he said, was “hesitant to reveal too much, so Strong came up with a creative solution: He gave Gray’s wife and daughter a tape recorder and “deputized them as researchers.”
“I was able to get a few hours of his father speaking and answering the Proust questionnaire,” Strong revealed, referring to a parlor game popularized by legendary French essayist and novelist Marcel Proust involving a list of 35 probing questions, like “What is your greatest fear?” “Actually, the first night I met James, we went to Shun Lee, and I asked him to answer the Proust questionnaire as Irving, his father. His answers were uncannily exact to when his father then answered it himself. So I got a composite picture and a visceral sense of who he was.”
In other words, Strong will go even more above and beyond than you thought.