The actor of the estate ‘demanded that the character oppose the super-rich family’ | Succession

Actor James Cromwell says he’s called on his Succession character to take a moral stand against his unscrupulous ultra-wealthy family – and hopes the hit series doesn’t normalize abuses of power and privilege like The Apprentice did it for Donald Trump.

The 81-year-old actor, best known for his roles in The Green Mile, Babe and LA Confidential, as well as the Six Feet Under and ER television series, plays Ewan Roy, the older brother of Brian Cox’s media mogul Logan. Roy. Ewan is largely separated from his fractured family for political reasons, although he retains a fortune worth $ 250million (£ 180million).

In season two, he gives his grandson Greg an ultimatum to stop working for Logan or be left out of Ewan’s will. Ewan is also suggested to divulge business secrets to undermine his brother.

Cromwell, a longtime campaigner for animal rights, racial justice and environmental causes, told The Guardian that his character has been rewritten to reflect his politics as a condition of his participation in the HBO series. “I demanded that we have similarities,” he said.

The succession centers on power struggles within the super-rich media-owning family, the Roys. Photography: HBO

Ewan Roy had originally alienated himself from Logan after receiving a lesser share of Waystar Royco’s wealth, Cromwell said.

“I was the brother who got screwed… and who probably got millions of dollars, but a lot less than his brother.

“He was a spoiled curmudgeon filled with anger, bitterness and jealousy at his brother’s success; he was going to go down [from Canada], act like a jerk and go.

But Cromwell said that during an hour-long conversation with Estate creator Jesse Armstrong before signing on to do the show, he insisted that Ewan’s objection was moral. Ewan is a Vietnam War veteran; Cromwell’s political activism began when he was arrested during anti-war protests in Washington DC in May 1971.

“Jesse’s position was that all these people are guilty, they’re all the same… I said, ‘You can’t take the guy who fought in Vietnam, and saw what he saw, and think that ‘he’s going to be the same kind of asshole that the rest of his family is’. Yes, of course, he is privileged, and everyone has flaws – but he will have seen the truth.

“You can’t let him turn around and say, ‘I’m defending something [but] If you give me a million dollars, maybe I’ll think about it. You can’t do this, and Jesse agreed with me.

As an actor and activist, Cromwell has long been a vocal critic of the “cancer” of capitalism. He said he hoped Succession’s immense popularity didn’t normalize exorbitant wealth or abuse of power and privilege, drawing a comparison to Donald Trump’s stint from reality TV to the White House.

“There is no morality, they are just there for themselves, and I hope the program doesn’t normalize that behavior like it normalized when Trump was on The Apprentice and people watched it. and said: “He has the power, he makes decisions and he goes all the way. This is the kind of guy that I want [as president]. ‘”

It was especially important to Cromwell that his character stood up to the Roys, given the real-life parallels with dynasties such as the Murdochs, he said.

“I’ve played twisted characters, but it’s one thing to be the bad guy and chew the scenery when it’s a totally fictional situation. This is not a fictitious situation. There is a family living in Australia who [they] embody.

“They do even worse than the Roys on TV and it continues. You watch the Leveson investigation and you see a performance of Murdoch that no actor could touch.

Cromwell adopted a vegan diet and became active with animal rights organization Peta after his experience working with piglets on the set of Babe in 1995.

He was arrested in 2017 and spent three days in jail for protesting a proposed fracking gas-fired power plant in his hometown of Orange County, New York.

Shortly after being released, Cromwell was arrested again for disrupting a killer whale show at SeaWorld with Peta. He is currently serving six months of probation for violating his bail conditions with a protest against dog medical research at Texas A&M University in October 2019.

From left to right, Alan Ruck, Brian Cox, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, who play the Roy family, in the first season of the TV show Succession.
From left to right, Alan Ruck, Brian Cox, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong, who play the Roy family, in the first season of the TV show Succession. Photograph: MediaPunch / REX / Shutterstock

Cromwell said his activism had been to the detriment of his prospects in Hollywood. “Of course I am getting older, but I also think that [film-makers] understand that by employing me, they give me the chair of bully to solve problems.

Even his insistence that his character in Succession be positioned in opposition to the Roys had limited his reach within the series. “Now I think they don’t really know what to do with me, because I always have to be against them,” Cromwell said. “I’m on the other side, but I wanted to be there. I didn’t want to be a jerk.

While Ewan is not without an agenda, he “is the closest thing to moral conscience on the show,” Vox review Emily VanDerWerff wrote in 2019.

“He points out that Logan may be the human being most responsible for destroying life on this planet, and he’s not wrong… right beyond their own self-esteem.”

His on-screen brother Brian Cox, an avowed socialist, also spoke out against the law and greed of the Roys, telling the New York Times: “I see all the rich being finally hoisted by their own firecracker… vanity that ‘they share.

Cromwell said Succession’s success was due to its bringing to light the horrific truth about those in power.

“The writing is wonderful, the acting and directing superb – and we are all aware that we live in a society where there is such an inequality of wealth that we would kind of like to know, ‘Who are these people ?’ I think what Jesse is saying is, “Take a good look. “

“Do you want to know who? When they testify in front of Congress, or show up to your favorite charity, or have a wing of a hospital named after them, or have gone in their spaceship … now we know that there’s another side to that, the side that makes this kind of wealth possible – and it’s not being done honestly. It is a criminal enterprise.

The third season of Succession premieres on HBO / HBO Max in the US on October 17th and on Sky Atlantic in the UK on October 18th.

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