Awards Daily’s Megan McLachlan talks to Nicholas Braun of HBO’s Succession about what went down on the plane in the Season 2 finale, what it was like to get pelted by water bottles, and whether Cousin Greg is on Tinder.
Cousin Greg has become a fan favorite on HBO’s Succession. And in Season 2, when the Roys face sexual assault allegations on their cruise line, Greg proves to be a power player when he helps Kendall (Jeremy Strong) go against the family with records he himself helped abscond. Yes, the family member the Roys least suspected has become the one that is the most dangerous (maybe he’s the one with the true killer instinct?).
Greg really takes a big swing in the Season 2 finale, because in addition to going against the family that has given him a job and better opportunities than when we found him (puking in a mascot’s uniform), he also betrays his partnership with Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), who was his closest ally up until this moment (despite their scuff up with thrown water bottles). As much as Kendall is putting himself out there in the season finale, Greg is also sticking his very tall neck out.
Nicholas Braun plays Greg with a mixture of sensitivity and wide-eyed sincerity, with Braun describing “a loneliness” to his character. There’s more to the Roys’ favorite cousin than meets the eye, and I had a great chat with him about it.
Awards Daily: So many people say that Greg is the only good human on the show, and yet he is essentially using the family to move up in the world. What is your opinion on that?
Nicholas Braun: I actually think a lot of the family could be good humans; they just cover it up by habit or whether it’s just been ingrained in them to hide their goodness. But I think Greg most easily allows himself to be good. He’s more naive than anything. He’s not doing a bunch of good, nice things to people all the time. I think there’s a sweetness to him, and he doesn’t know how to cover it up yet like the rest of them.
AD: That’s such an interesting answer. I really like that. Maybe at one point Kendall was like Greg. Although I don’t know if I could imagine Roman being like Greg.
NB: At some point, maybe Greg will learn to cover it up, and it’ll be a sad day I think. (Laughs) When he does.
AD: I hope he doesn’t.
NB: Yeah, exactly. Me, neither.
AD: Although he proves in the finale that he might have more of a conscience than we think when he gives Kendall the papers. Who do you think approached whom? Was it on the plane? How do you think that went down?
NB: I believe it was on the plane. I think Kendall approached me, and I think Greg just sort of, taking stock in where he was getting on that plane—he was kind of like the Kendall babysitter—I think after the whole boat episode, where Greg was like, “I shouldn’t be on the chopping block. I just went to Congress and I testified in front of the world for you guys.” I think he found Greg in a vulnerable moment on that plane, where Kendall was able to say, “Hey, why don’t we just make a big move right now?” And I think Greg found that that’s the best turn for him.
AD: I also wonder if Greg felt like he was so close to being on the chopping block that it made him realize how expendable they might view him.
NB: I think that’s totally true.
AD: What do you think Greg’s social life is like outside of the family? We don’t really see him interact with too many people other than family members. Does he have one? Do you think he’s on Tinder? Maybe Bumble?
NB: It’s fun to think about. What is Greg actually doing as a young an in New York? We saw him have this little gathering of neo-conservatives, or maybe it wasn’t conservatives. I don’t exactly know where Greg stands politically, but I think he probably goes on a date every once in a while. I think he’d probably like a girlfriend. Even though he’s always going to these family events and working all the time, I still sense there’s kind of a loneliness. I think he probably wishes he could fill that void somehow. So I think he’s on the side and we don’t see it, trying to make some good friends that are real people, so he can balance all of the crazy Roy energy out. I think trying maybe he’s trying to meet a girl and go on dates and spend some of his larger, growing salary. He’s also got that sick apartment now.
AD: Yeah, right! One of my favorite moments of the season comes from you, and it’s during Kendall’s rap. They pan to you, and Greg looks so confused but also kind of exhilarated. What is Greg thinking in that moment?
NB: (Laughs) Jeremy and I believed that Kendall would have rehearsed this with Greg and in that moment—oh, man, there are a lot of thoughts. One is “He’s really going for it! Hell ya!” for my friend. And then also “Is this really a bad look? And should I have done something and stopped this?” And then it’s also like, “Whoah, Kendall is really enjoying himself. Good for him!” Rarely do you see the Roy children do some form of expression; they’re not expressive in an artistic way. So for him to go up there and do something musical, I think it’s kind of astonishing, and I think that’s also what’s playing through Greg’s head.
AD: Another thing I love about the show is your relationship with Tom. Is it convenient or is it genuine? Do you think Greg genuinely has a connection with Tom and feels like they’re friends?
NB: There’s sometimes a warmth from Tom. So at times, like we were saying earlier, [there’s ]that loneliness and he gets a real friend sometimes. When Greg walks into one of these parties or into work and it’s not a day where Tom needs to make him a punching bag or to treat him like shit, he’s actually nice. There is something real there. And then I think Greg has realized more in Season 2 that Tom isn’t the only track. There are multiple tracks, and Kendall likes Greg. [With] Logan, there’s some kind of rapport there. There’s something there, too. And I think Greg is starting to realize he can find his way toward more success without this guy who’s basically hot and cold with him at a moment’s notice. It’s a lot of things. Sometimes it is actually a decent friendship.
AD: That’s interesting. I wanted to ask you about the confrontation scene with Tom and the water bottles. What was it like filming that and did you get injured? Did you actually get hit with the water bottles?
NB: I got hit with a bunch of water bottles. Yeah. But it was so fun. That day was one of my favorite days of the whole season, because we were just shooting in this room that was 10 by 10, this tiny little room. And we had these great scenes they’d written us, and we knew we had this arc—that’s all gonna take place in this room, from thinking we’re gonna die from the shooters to me thinking I’m gonna get hurt by Tom to patching it up and then eventually we’re gonna leave and I’m gonna decide to blackmail him. It was this awesome day for our relationship, so I loved it. Matthew, he’s just so much fun to work with. I was just really looking forward to all of the stuff we got to do that day.
AD: Looking forward to Season 3, do you think we’ll see a different Greg going forward, maybe a more confident Greg, with everything that went on at the end?
NB: Yeah, I think so. I’m not exactly sure what it’s gonna look like, with how he supported Kendall and having those documents and what the fallout is. So I don’t know exactly how that looks, but I do sense that Greg is willing to take bigger risks and he’s growing into himself, and I would think that that’s only going to keep continuing. And it’s fun for me and fun for Jesse [Armstrong, series creator] and I to collaborate on how to grow him in the right ways while still maintaining his Greg-ness.
Succession Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on HBOGo and HBOMax.