Jeremy Strong Says It’s a ‘Myth’ That He’s ‘Humorless’

Jeremy Strong was a relatively successful working actor before he joined the cast of HBO’s “Succession,” but his turn as the neurotic, pathetic Kendall Roy won him an Emmy Award and established him as a genuine star. Now, in a new interview, Strong opened up about the stress of moving on from the pivotal role after the series concluded its four-season run.

“There was a moment when the show ended where I felt a profound sense of, ‘Was this the thing? Was this the event of my life?” Strong said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine (via Variety). And then a great determination to achieve exit velocity from it so I could attempt to do more.”

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Among that “more” may be a bit of comedy. You read that right.

While “Succession” won Strong a legion of fans and admirers of his work, stories about his Method acting process behind the scenes also created a public narrative portraying the actor as a pretentious, self-suffering, and overly serious actor. In the New York Times Magazine interview, Strong addressed that perception, admitting that having fun is “probably something I’m not great at doing,” but also that he was open to trying comedy.

“I thought ‘Succession’ was wickedly funny. I don’t know that that show can be put into any box, but it had an incredible amount of humor in it,” Strong said. “It’s not something that I gravitate toward, but it’s not something that I am against. Peter Sellers, he’s like a god to me. The last time I worked with Sam Gold was a play called ‘The Coward,’ which was essentially ‘Barry Lyndon’ meets ‘The Jerk.’ I did the whole play in falsetto. Your very own paper, The New York Times, said that after two hours, you’re starved for silence. I thought, That’s exactly what I was trying to do. It’s a myth that I am this humorless person.”

Strong’s interview comes as the actor returns to his stage roots with a Broadway production of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.” He also recently wrapped production on “The Apprentice,” a Donald Trump biographical film in which he plays notorious New York prosecutor Roy Cohn. Asked about his next career steps after “Succession,” Strong said he “hadn’t spent much time worrying about” how he’ll distance himself from Kendall.

“I went right into Roy Cohn, partly just to sort of shake [‘Succession’] off,” Strong said. “Roy Cohn, you can’t overstate his influence in our country, his legacy of the denial of reality and certain things that he imparted to Donald Trump. His playbook has a tentacular reach that is staggering — the most fascinating person I’ve ever tried to inhabit. I should say a disclaimer: My job is to be a humanistic investigator of a subject and to withhold judgment. So while I personally might have a lot of judgment about Roy Cohn, that is not the part of me that engages in the creative work.”

“An Enemy of the People,” which also stars Michael Imperioli and Victoria Pedretti, is in previews on Broadway and opens March 18. “The Apprentice,” which also stars Sebastian Stan, Maria Bakalova, and Martin Donovan, is awaiting a U.S. distributor.

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