Alan Ruck talks Succession and Connor Roy – “He dances to the beat of his own drum.”
Alan Ruck was at work on another show, The Exorcist when he got a call to audition for a “new HBO show.” But, parent duty called first and he had errands to run. When he checked his phone, Ruck had seven messages to go to Adam Mackay’s house. And that, is how he ended up on HBO’s Succession.
On the series, Ruck plays Connor Roy. Like the other Roy sons, Connor doesn’t hold a job, but he has high ambitions. He wants to run for office, the highest he can go. He might not be as unlikeable as the other Roy children, but Connor, like the rest of his siblings seeks his father’s approval. Even in his 50s.
I caught up with Ruck for a quick dive into Connor Roy and what lies ahead in Season two.
What was the first thing they said to you about Connor Roy
When I auditioned for this, it was about two and a half years ago, I was doing The Exorcist at the time. I was in Chicago and working with Geena Davis. I’d fly home every weekend. My wife, Mireille Enos was working on her own show and was also being single mom. She was stressed out. I came home this one weekend and I didn’t have to go back until the Monday. She said, “I want you to take Larkin to the Mommy and Me music class on Monday.” I said I’d do it, and I promised to do it. My manager called up on Monday morning saying they had an audition for a HBO show. I thought, “Wow.” I turned to Mireille and she burst into tears. [laughs] I said, “OK, I’m not going.”
We took our boy to the music class. It’s one of those classes where you leave your phone outside. And when I got out, there were seven messages that said, “Just go to Adam Mckay’s house.” I drove over there and told him I didn’t even know the material. He said to just make it up, whatever came out of my mouth, he said to just make it all up.
It was kind of an improv, and I came to this one line, and they knew that Connor wanted to run for office. In the audition, he had this line, “Dad, there’s this job that I want, and it’s called President of the United States.” I looked at Adam and said he had to be putting his old man on. Adam shook his head and said that he – Connor was deadly serious.
From that instance on, I knew who he was. He’s walking around in a different world than the rest of us. He’s really dancing to the beat of his own drum. He might be missing a few chips and is slightly off, but he’s not really harmful. He’s as bigotted as the rest of them and as entitled as the rest of them, but he’s fairly benign.
He’s less of an asshole. His interests are more in putting that ball together. What was that obsession by the way?
I think – working on the backstory here. Connor was probably seven or eight-years-old when Logan divorced Connor’s mother. He moved on and married Caroline and produced the golden trio. Those kids could do no wrong. They were the smartest kids in their class. They were in every club and there was Connor showing up at holidays. For forty-five years, Connor has always felt like he’s on the outside. He wants to be included. The idea behind the ball was that it was his mother’s thing. She started it years ago. Logan always had a wife or somebody to take care of that thing. That particular year, Marcia didn’t want anything to do with it. So, the old man called me up and asked if I wanted to do it. If he wants me to wash his car, I’ll wash his car. I think I jumped at the chance to do something that was going to make my father proud of me.
It’s interesting because it’s always about doing things to make Logan proud.
Even Shiv, who has gone to D.C and distanced herself as a political consultant and not really interested in the family business. It’s a smokescreen. She cares more than anybody because she is daddy’s girl. She is his favorite.
What are you allowed to tell us about season two?
He is pursuing this idea of the presidency. There are the machinations of the business and the way things were left hanging at the end of last season with what Kendall did. There is all that fallout to deal with. That’s a major thrust of the season, dealing with the mess of last season.
Everybody, even Connor daydreams and hopes that one day the old man will say, “Connor, you know, the rest of them are really disappointing me, I think you ought to have a crack at it.” I’m sure he flunked out of business school. I’m sure he did one semester and thought it was bullshit and decided to live off of the trust fund.
He is pursuing office and doing things that are befuddling to the rest of the family, I don’t know where it’s going and it’s like life. We don’t know until the script arrives. I think Jesse Armstrong and his gang are just so talented, I think they change things on the fly. I think things occur to them, and they’ll take things in a different direction.
Do you have a season one highlight?
It would probably be the ball because that was where I had the most to do. Whatever they throw me is always choice. That episode was the one where I actually had an active role in the business. The thing that’s tricky with Connor is that he has removed himself from the family business, but that’s where the major conflict is and where the drama is. We’ll see what happens in season 3 and how Connor is integrated a bit more.
What has the fan reaction been like for you?
The truth is, I’ve been waiting thirty years for a show like this. It’s comedy. It’s tragic and it’s shocking. It’s like watching a trainwreck. It’s like people trying to manage a disaster. I think people who have been following me – I’ve done a lot of comedy and that’s great, but what’s really satisfying is you just show up and you’re deadly serious about what’s going on. But also that’s why it’s funny because these people are such fools.
My political orientation is on the left side of things, so any time I get to rub Fascists noses in shit, I enjoy it in my own little way.
I love this trainwreck. TV hasn’t been this good in so long.
That’s Jesse Armstrong. It’s his mind and his imagination. It’s all of them. We are really very lucky. I’m so very grateful that I get to work on such a cool show.