Matthew MacFadyen (Rightfully) Wants Us To Stop Obsessing Over Jeremy Strong’s ‘Succession’ Method Acting

After Jeremy Strong went a little too deeply into his method acting process for Succession late last year, even he admitted that his co-stars might not be big fans of the way he gets his scenes done. Brian Cox praised Strong’s results, but expressed concerns about what being Kendall Roy 24 hours a day might be doing to Strong’s mental and emotional health. After all, Kendall is a pathetic dumpster fire to inhabit. (Still, it never made him want to superglue his hand to a Starbuck’s counter, so how bad could it be really?)

Now co-star Matthew MacFadyen has weighed in with a diplomatic nudge that we fans should consider the whole spectrum of the show’s performances instead of going all deer-in-the-headlights for Strong’s grisly process. “I find it slightly aggravating because—it makes [the show] about one thing, and it’s an ensemble piece,” MacFadyen told Vanity Fair. “You think of J. Smith-Cameron and Alan Ruck, who are fucking extraordinary actors. [Strong] is not the main event.” For what it’s worth, his process is essentially the polar opposite: he drops deeply into character when the cameras are rolling and then pops back into MacFadyen Mode when they’re done, and he resents the wrongheaded conclusion that actors who don’t go method “aren’t as invested, or as involved, as someone who’s weeping in a corner.”

Of course, this comes after Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker, rats and all, poisoned an already scummy well of public tolerance for the acting style. Angelica Jade Bastien at The Atlantic‘s read on the situation was apt, arguing that method acting as we know it has descended into an overused gimmick to shortcut prestige and to score publicity points. It’s that environment — where method acting makes audiences feel like they’re putting on a wet swimsuit — in which Strong’s comments landed, so MacFadyen’s feel like an antidote. Let’s not punish Strong for using the tool he most values to get to that dark place, but let’s also celebrate Kieran Culkin’s supreme ironic detachment, Sarah Snook’s smiling hatred, Cox’s dad-never-said-I-love-you energy, and Nicholas Braun’s Labrador Retriever vibes, too. No matter what acting technique they’re using, they all nail it.

(Via Vanity Fair)