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TV Quickfire: Succession stars Brian Cox and Matthew Macfayden on new series of hit Sky Atlantic drama

As hit Sky Atlantic drama Succession returns for a long awaited third series, we find out more from the stars of the show...

Brian Cox as Logan Roy in Succession
Danielle de Wolfe

HOW MUCH DID WRITER JESSE ARMSTRONG SHARE WITH YOU ABOUT SERIES THREE?

Brian Cox, who plays Logan Roy: Jesse normally doesn't expose the show to the actors, but he did on this occasion. This was just before lockdown 2020; I met him literally the day before everybody was locked down in March. I'd done Desert Island Discs that day and then Jesse said, "Come in, we'll talk".

My overriding feeling was "should you be telling me this? Isn't it best to keep me in my sublime ignorance?". But I felt very privileged and honoured that he actually did fill me in on how it was going to end.

Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Tom Wambsgans: I don't always want to know, you know, because you can't play the end at the beginning.

It's quite nice just guessing – and we get the episodes quite late. We get them sometimes at two in the morning before the table read, the day of. So yeah, that's quite fun.

WHAT DOES LOGAN THINK ABOUT HIS SON LOGAN, WHO MADE A POWER-GRAB AT THE END OF SERIES TWO? AND HOW SIMILAR ARE YOU TO YOUR CHARACTER?

Brian Cox: Logan is a bit of a pillock. [Last series] I found himself thinking "you know, Kendall, you cannot take over the job, you're not fit" – I mean, both as Brian Cox and as Logan Roy I think that.

Logan and I share one thing in common, which is a deep disappointment in the human experiment.

HOW DO YOU VIEW TOM'S ROLE IN THE ROY FAMILY DYNAMIC?

Matthew Macfadyen: There's a wonderful TS Eliot line in Prufrock where he says 'you prepare the face to meet the faces that you meet' – and Tom is a good example of that.

He's constantly changing who he is, depending on the status of the person he's with – which again, we all do to varying degrees. So for an actor, that's just heaven. And it's a joy to play a real human grease stain.

The Roys are so relatable, even though they are sort of from another planet. They're so wealthy, there's a sort of chemical change after a certain amount of noughts – they don't even think about money in the way most ordinary people do.

Sometimes I think it's not really about the wealth. It's the power, it's corrosive, and also the absence of love is corrosive.

HOW DO THE CAST PREPARE FOR FILMING AND WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE STANDARD OF WRITING FROM ARMSTRONG AND THE LIKES OF LUCY PREBBLE, ARMANDO IANNUCCI AND TONY ROCHE?

Matthew Macfayden: The scriptwriting does the work for you. I often sit on material in order to let it percolate in my head in the days and weeks before we shoot the scene.

Brian Cox: They're satirists, they're dramatists, and this is a unique combination that has come to the writing of British television. Armando Iannucci – what he's sort of fostered, Jesse's amazing work on The Thick Of It, Tony Roche's amazing work.

It's very much now part of the course that these writers are infecting things in a way that the writers have not done for a long, long time. It used to be through the medium of the theatre – and it still has the sort of excellence of a small theatre piece that you would find in a pub somewhere. So that's what I think is so extraordinary.

:: Succession is available to stream now on Sky Atlantic and NOW

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