SPOILER ALERT: This question and reply contains spoilers from “With Open Eyes,” nan bid finale of HBO’s “Succession,” now streaming connected Max.
During their screen communicative for Variety’s Actors connected Actors, Claire Danes — who’s starred successful a number of TV shows, including “Homeland” and FX’s caller constricted bid “Fleishman Is successful Trouble” — asked Kieran Culkin whether he’d ever done episodic tv earlier “Succession.” The answer, moreover though Culkin has been acting since he was a child, was no.
Danes laughed, and said, “So you conscionable thought, ‘No, I’m conscionable going to do nan best one, and commencement correct there.’”
“Then retire, that was nan plan!” Culkin replied.
That speech took spot successful April, 5 weeks earlier nan extremity of “Succession.” In nan bid finale of Jesse Armstrong’s Emmy-winning drama, Roman (Culkin), who passim nan show’s arc could spell from impish extremism to vulnerability successful an instant, ended up unsocial astatine a barroom drinking a martini. With his look banged up, and his stitches busted unfastened courtesy of an overly fierce hug from his relative Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman flashes a little grin — but immoderate he’s really reasoning is indecipherable. Earlier, however, successful a disastrous boardroom meltdown among his siblings Kendall and Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman had decisively travel to nan aforesaid realization their father, Logan (Brian Cox), had agelong agone travel to: “We are bullshit… We are nothing.”
As portion of our Actors connected Actors issue, Culkin shared his insights for nan first clip connected nan finale — calling Variety from Poland, wherever he’s filming a movie. There was conscionable 1 issue, though, since he’d been truthful busy, and is truthful acold distant from home: “I haven’t seen it, truthful nary spoilers!”
Well, I’m going to spoil something. In nan convention room segment pinch Roman, Kendall and Shiv, Roman is nan 1 who yet crystallizes everything, really, erstwhile he says, “We are bullshit.” Can you break down that scene?
It was correct location connected nan page, what Jesse wrote. I cognize “we are bullshit,” that that was written, but location were different versions that would travel out. I retrieve apologizing once, because immoderate different type came out. He said, “No, it’s fine.” Jesse and I were synced up astir what nan infinitesimal was for Roman.
Initially, it was written arsenic much of a screaming lucifer betwixt Shiv and Kendall that sewage a spot physical, and he ended up throwing a phone, and they benignant of scuffled. There was a discussion, a information thing, because Sarah was really pregnant astatine nan time.
Jeremy and I are of nan aforesaid opinion: We don’t really emotion rehearsing. We cognize what’s happening successful nan scene, let’s conscionable do it. But we besides person to beryllium safe, because location was a information risk.
We thought possibly it would get to a spot wherever Shiv was going to push him aliases propulsion thing — we weren’t sure. But erstwhile he went for her, I conscionable instinctively grabbed him. And past he turned his attraction to me. There were a fewer takes wherever we ended up scuffling, and really going for it connected nan floor. I haven’t seen it, truthful I’m not judge what made it in.
He pushes you against nan wall —
And grabbed my face, right.
It’s beautiful violent.
Does it ever travel to, like, slaps? Or do we ever spell to nan floor, aliases thing for illustration that?
You wrestle, but you’re not afloat connected nan floor, no.
Oh, well, cool! There were immoderate wherever I was connected top, and I was smacking his head. There were times erstwhile he sewage connected apical of maine and conscionable punched nan crap retired of me. And it was very alive, because we weren’t judge what nan adjacent 1 was going to be, and really it was going to manifest.
Can we talk astir nan hug pinch Kendall, erstwhile he busts unfastened Roman’s stitches? People person different interpretations of it.
Well, Jeremy and I, arsenic I said, we don’t really for illustration to rehearse. I really really dislike discussing nan scene, particularly erstwhile I consciousness for illustration I understand it. The worst point a head could do is travel successful and picture what nan scene’s about, and what our characters are going through: We don’t request to talk it, we understand. Jesse had said thing earlier successful nan season, which I work together with, which was: “What’s funny is sometimes I’ll constitute thing pinch a very circumstantial intention. And past nan character has their ain mentation of it. But erstwhile they play it, some work, truthful I don’t person to travel successful to statement you, moreover though I person a emotion you person a different publication connected it. It useful my way, and useful your way.”
In that scene, erstwhile I publication it, I was benignant of confused arsenic to what was happening. A mates of days before, we had to talk astir nan stitches, nan prosthetic, and each that stuff. He showed maine — benignant of vaguely — what he thinks of really nan hug opens up my stitches. I had my ain mentation of it, and I didn’t want to inquire him. And we changeable it, and he seemed happy pinch it.
After nan fact, I asked him what he thought that infinitesimal was about. And we did person nan aforesaid thought — which is great. But nan point is, if it was thing else, it would activity each nan same. Because earlier I came to nan conclusion of what I thought it was, I realized location could beryllium 2 aliases 3 different things that this could mean. And it could mean everything each astatine once.
My first spell astatine it is benignant of was — it’s a point that happens. Which I cognize is benignant of silly. But sometimes I don’t want to overanalyze something, because successful nan moment, Roman’s not going to cognize why he’s doing it, perhaps. So why would I cognize it? Sorry, it seems for illustration I’m talking successful circles, but location person been times erstwhile I spell to Jesse erstwhile there’s a statement that sounds for illustration it’s conscionable words, but location could beryllium a meaning down it. And I’ll spell up to him and say, “This point here, that conscionable a —?” And he conscionable goes, “Yeah, it’s conscionable a —.” And I go, “OK, great, opportunity nary more.”
That sounds for illustration possibly a lazy interpretation? But that’s really conscionable what group do. So erstwhile I first publication it, I benignant of thought, “This could conscionable beryllium a point that happens, and cipher really knows why it happened, it was conscionable fucking strange. And they mightiness person to talk astir it successful therapy to fig retired what it is.”
But I person my interpretation. And I do benignant of want to support that 1 to myself too. Which is very unsatisfying to you.
My mentation was that Roman has been physically abused by Logan, and Kendall is benignant of bringing him to heel. My wife’s mentation was that Roman is freaking retired astir being embarrassed, and Kendall is giving him nan gift of opening up his stitches truthful it’s much clear why this personification can’t beryllium nan CEO of a company.
What was nan Logan thing? What was yours again?
That Kendall, successful his attempts to move into Logan, was abusing Roman. Physically controlling him.
Interesting. I will opportunity that 1 of your interpretations has elements that are successful mine, and 1 of them not astatine all!
I conjecture I’m nan 1 who’s wrong! Annoying.
I’m not going to say! They’re both very interesting, actually.
Roman was very upset astir Gerri being successful nan agency for nan last committee meeting. In his past segment astatine nan bar, is he drinking that martini, and reasoning of her? J. Smith-Cameron tweeted thing astir it.
Yes, she likes to person nosy pinch her tweets. I person my thoughts connected that, but I don’t really want to put that retired there. Jesse didn’t constitute that successful for that logic — I’m beautiful judge he conscionable said, “…orders a drink.” So that’s not a pointed “Roman-orders-Gerri’s-drink” moment, arsenic acold arsenic I’m concerned. Whether aliases not that was my volition down it, I will support to myself.
What do you deliberation that last segment of Roman intends astir wherever you spot Roman heading successful this world, if this were a play finale and not a bid finale?
Where do I deliberation he goes from here?
There are group who deliberation that Roman is going to beryllium conscionable fine, much than immoderate of nan characters.
But that’s not saying very much, is it? None of nan siblings are successful a peculiarly bully spot astatine nan end. I’ve heard that interpretation, and I deliberation that’s interesting. A batch of group conscionable go, “Well, he’s sewage tons of money — he’ll beryllium fine!” Which conscionable isn’t really nan lawsuit for these people. I don’t deliberation it’s arsenic elemental as, “Well, I conjecture I’ve sewage my riches and my martini, I’m fine.” I don’t deliberation he’s OK. No.
I retrieve connected that day, Jesse said, “Do you want to talk astir this moment, aliases not?” I said, “No, let’s conscionable sprout it.” Because I didn’t want to perceive what it was. Because I had my ain idea. He has said that he thinks it’s much of like, “Roman has gone backmost to wherever he was astatine nan beginning. What’s really sad astir that was each of this was for nothing. It’s been a discarded of his time. Like, what’s nan point? What did he learn? What did he gain?”
Which is simply a cool interpretation, and that’s his, truthful that seems to beryllium nan 1 that’s right.
But there’s mine, which has, I think, elements of that. People inevitably do turn erstwhile they spell done experiences for illustration this. I deliberation he has evolved arsenic a person. I don’t deliberation he’s gained thing from this. I deliberation there’s thing he must person taken distant from it, whether aliases not that’s for amended aliases for worse. The point that gets me, moreover astatine nan extremity of Season 3, was if Roman’s trim retired of nan company, and there’s nary logic for him specifically to travel to nan agency and interact pinch his siblings, they don’t person nan capacity to say, “Hey, I miss you. Let’s get together and bent out.”
I deliberation he not only conscionable genuinely loves his family, I deliberation he needs them. Now that it’s done, and he’s out, and they’re each out: When is he going to spot them again? Who does he have? He has fucking nobody. That’s it. And siblings are retired there, somewhere. And it’s not for illustration we’re gonna get together for a beer. He’s very overmuch alone. Have you ever seen Roman pinch a friend?
God, that’s terrible. In your reasoning astir this, do you deliberation there’s a world wherever they tin reconcile?
Roman would beryllium very overmuch up for that, I think. But I person nary idea! I emotion that location are different interpretations of it, and different theories. I emotion that, because each these things tin beryllium astatine erstwhile — that’s why I deliberation it’s awesome that it ended wherever it did. It feels very overmuch for illustration nan end, but location could beryllium more. Because location really could be!
I really do want to spot what happens pinch these characters. But I’m really satisfied sitting pinch that emotion of wanting more, and knowing that it’s over.
To that point, though, do you deliberation successful your bosom that you’re really done everlastingly playing Roman Roy? I cognize it conscionable ended — I know. And that Jesse Armstrong says he’s done. But fixed nan “more” of it all, and fixed his emotion of this project, which has consumed him for years, really could location not beryllium a movie aliases a constricted bid — aliases a something someday?
I mean — because he ended it. I deliberation that’s it. That is nan end. We don’t each emotion to perceive that. But you know, it’s nan end.
Dammit. Why do you deliberation Shiv shivs Kendall astatine nan past minute? What do you deliberation is happening successful her mind?
Ooh, that’s a mobility for Jesse and Sarah. God, I really request to watch nan episode!
I consciousness for illustration initially location was thing successful location wherever Roman was angry astatine Shiv for a infinitesimal astir doing it. Like, he was embarrassed — like, “Hey, I put myself retired there. And I look stupid now.” I can’t retrieve what it was, but past it ended up conscionable not emotion correct successful nan room. Because instantly erstwhile she did it, I retrieve instinctively, arsenic Roman, emotion like, “Oh, yeah. No, absolutely, you’re right. It can’t beryllium him.”
I can’t precisely construe what those feelings are. But successful my gut, nan infinitesimal she bailed, Roman was like, “Oh, convey God, 1 of america had to do it.”
The narration pinch Gerri doesn’t resolve, and I deliberation J. Smith-Cameron said location was a segment that was trim from nan ceremonial section wherever she goes to him. What do you deliberation of that relationship? Is it complete forever?
Well, what does “resolve” mean? If this is simply a real, quality relationship, what does that moreover mean? Are each your relationships tied up successful a neat small front successful your life? It conscionable doesn’t really hap that way. I would beryllium unsatisfied if I were fixed a satisfying solution there.
She said in an interview that you and she person a scheme to spell to Balthazar and person martinis erstwhile you get backmost from Poland.
She and I and her hubby did that a fewer weeks ago. She conscionable texted maine nan different day, like, let’s do that! I’m not judge if it’s a double date, aliases conscionable nan 2 of us. They make a really bully martini there.
You and Sarah Snook are some going into nan lead character categories this year, which makes full sense. And you’re acting a movie correct now — do you consciousness that “Succession” has changed your trajectory?
I can’t deliberation successful position of that. The 1 point that’s an adjustment, that each of america successful nan show person talked about, was really nan hellhole are we gonna activity connected thing else? The measurement that we sprout is 1 of a kind. With nan ceremonial scene, erstwhile we sewage there, [director Mark] Mylod told a batch of gave this large reside to everyone, including a mates 100 inheritance actors, further camera crew, further PAs, what nan time was going to be. And he fundamentally said, “We’re going to tally nan full ceremonial convoy without rehearsing it. We’re going to sprout it pinch 4 cameras. And past we’re going to do that twice.”
When we did nan array read, Jesse had asked that we don’t publication nan eulogies, because we’ll conscionable prevention it. So I specifically did not publication nan eulogies. This is shooting connected film, truthful cameras person to support reloading: We conscionable did nan funeral. And I didn’t know, for example, what Uncle Ewan was going to opportunity until he was up location doing it. And there’s our genuine reactions to it. I didn’t cognize what Kendall was going to do aft he saved me. I didn’t rehearse what my point was — I learned nan lines, but I didn’t cognize really it was going to travel out. My knowing is nan 1 that’s successful nan section was nan first take. We conscionable ran nan full thing.
Who nan fuck does that? The full funeral, which is almost half of nan episode, we ran successful its entirety. We ne'er do sum connected nan show. We don’t do marks. We don’t do continuity. All nan things that are restrictions for an character that you’ll do successful immoderate different movie, we conscionable didn’t do. I’m not frightened for different job? I’m much worried astir not having nan aforesaid benignant of freedom.
But I’m retired present moving connected this thing, and there’s nan first bump of like, “Oh, you’re putting a people down? That’s weird. Coverage!” But it’s a mates of days of adjusting, and there’s been immoderate adjustments connected their portion too. Like, I’m not fixed marks connected this movie, truthful it’s loosened up a small bit. But it’s going really well. It’s odd, because I deliberation I went successful pinch an anticipation of emotion very agitated aliases boxed successful aliases something. But it’s not nan case.
In other words, I’m looking guardant to doing much stuff.
Is location thing that you want to opportunity astir thing nan finale aliases Roman, aliases thing that I haven’t asked you?
No. There’s truthful overmuch I don’t want to say, and there’s immoderate worldly I said that I benignant of almost regret.
This question and reply has been edited and condensed. Ethan Shanfeld contributed to this report.