Sunday night’s Succession was a barnburner, even for Succession. The eighth episode of the pandemic-delayed third season went to some extra-dark places, with each of Logan Roy’s children hitting new lows. Who had it worst? It’s a hard one to answer. Maybe it’s a four-way tie. (Or a three-way tie, since even Connor’s ill-advised marriage proposal was far from the worst thing to happen to the siblings.) But when the episode ended, there was one person people were talking about more than the others: On Sunday night, The New Yorker dropped an epic and at times bewildering profile of Kendall Roy himself, Jeremy Strong.
The piece paints a portrait of the thespian as rather intense, to put it mildly. He’s one of those actors who stays in character on set. He doesn’t like rehearsal. (“I want every scene to feel like I’m encountering a bear in the woods,” as he puts it.) He doesn’t consider what he does Method acting, referring to his approach as “identity diffusion.” When the reporter tells him he’s going to ask his Succession castmates what they think of his methodology, he admits, ominously, “I don’t know how popular the way I work is amongst our troupe.” (Kieran Culkin, who’s spoken about him before, seems skeptical, even vaguely dismissive, while Brian Cox, an old pro who can turn acting on and off like a switch, worries about him.)
Strong is so serious that he doesn’t seem to recognize one of the things that has made Succession so beloved: It’s very funny. It’s not a comedy (or at least that’s not how awards bodies, who place in the Drama category, see it). But it’s filled with clever insults, pitch black humor, and, of course, champion cussing. Strong, however, doesn’t seem to see that. Indeed, Culkin tells an anecdote about him:
“He said something to me like, ‘I’m worried that people might think that the show is a comedy.’ And I said, ‘I think the show is a comedy.’ He thought I was kidding.”
But perhaps there’s method (if not Method) to his madness. Adam McKay, executive producer, who directed the pilot, said Strong’s intensity is what got him the gig. “That’s exactly why we cast Jeremy in that role,” McKay told journalist Michael Schulman. “Because he’s not playing it like a comedy. He’s playing it like he’s Hamlet.”
The New Yorker’s profile of Strong became about as talked-about as the latest Succession episode itself. His methodology drew a mix of reactions. Some found him a little too intense.
jeremy strong seems like a terribly annoying asshole. I love him pic.twitter.com/A59ngQYyRg
— I hope this is satire… (@sablaah) December 6, 2021
when jeremy strong says "i don't rehearse, i want to enter every scene like greeting a bear in the woods," that, to me, is funnier than anything any comedian has ever said
— ashley ray, kate winslet’s vape coach (@theeashleyray) December 6, 2021
(He does not sound fun you guys) https://t.co/pIRWYZrTwx
— Linda Holmes Thinks You're Boo-ing Great (@lindaholmes) December 6, 2021
Others remarked that he was humorless even when talking about the funniest thing that’s ever happened to Kendall.
Jeremy Strong referencing Crime and Punishment when talking about a scene where he says “my boy Squiggle cooked up this beat for me” is peak Jeremy Strong https://t.co/DHCEQjwNkE pic.twitter.com/zp69qO72VG
— rapid reaction TEDx (@GraceSpelman) December 5, 2021
jeremy strong is the perfect kind of dumb smart guy lmfao https://t.co/YESb21Labn
— the overarchiver (@capybaroness) December 5, 2021
Jeremy Strong is on my list of “people who extremely went to Yale”
— Jackson McHenry (@McHenryJD) December 6, 2021
jeremy strong is so funny without even trying i swear pic.twitter.com/jNSLrChDew
— iana murray (@ianamurray) December 6, 2021
Others dwelled on how his castmates saw him.
i know brian cox must be SICK of jeremy strong’s antics ajsjsjsks
— oatmeal influencer (@acechhh) December 5, 2021
— Mark Byrne (@markwby) December 6, 2021
Everyone in the Jeremy Strong profile when they were asked to comment on Jeremy Strong pic.twitter.com/Vpw8juFpYo
— Olivia Rania Bowden (@OliviaBowden__) December 6, 2021
There were other amusing stand-out bits, too.
I will think about this Jeremy Strong profile and his “tiny sherbet-colored square” for a long time. pic.twitter.com/lhPlwlMUiF
— Molly McGlynn (@therealmollymcg) December 6, 2021
Others thought Strong simply came off like an actor.
Jeremy Strong’s profile just makes him sound like a normal actor, they’re all like that, that’s Actor Brain
— Mr. Chau (@Srirachachau) December 6, 2021
Others praised his working methods, saying, effectively, whatever works.
Whatever Jeremy Strong is doing on Succession clearly works. Incredible performance. Same thing with Brian Cox. That's a cool part of creative work: there's no right way to get there!
— David Grossman (@davidgross_man) December 6, 2021
the response to the jeremy strong thing is reminding me of one of the most disappointing qualities of the human race,which is that people are WAY too strict about pretentiousness as a quality. Pretentiousness is fine! you need people around who will say crackers things about art!
— Rosa Lyster (@rosalyster) December 6, 2021
Then again, maybe the real problem is allowing a reporter to hang around you for a lengthy New Yorker profile.
Why would you ever let anyone write a profile of you
— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) December 6, 2021
(Via The New Yorker)