‘Succession’ Cast Member Jeremy Strong’s Dostoyevsky Chats Don’t Bother Creator Jesse Armstrong

Before the season finale, Succession cast member Jeremy Strong was the subject of a New Yorker profile that questioned his process. The controversial profile led many of Strong’s collaborators, including writer/director Aaron Sorkin, to leap to his defense. Succession creator Jesse Armstrong had a chance to speak to Strong’s process in an interview after the season finale aired. 

'Succession' cast member Jeremy Strong walks down the steps of an Italian villa
Jeremy Strong | Graeme Hunter/HBO

Armstrong was a guest on The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top Five podcast on Dec. 17. In the aftermath of the Succession finale and the Strong profile, Armstrong defended Strong’s tendency to get deeply analytical about his role of Kendall Roy. Strong and the ensemble Succession cast were nominated for SAG Awards on Jan. 12.

Kendall Roy had a really rough third season of ‘Succession’

Strong had a lot of juicy material in Succession Season 3. After his press conference bombshell, Kendall went to battle against his father Logan (Brian Cox) with his siblings somewhat undecided. By the end of the season, Kendall was trying to make peace but couldn’t even do that. Finally, he teamed up with his siblings. 

RELATED: ‘Succession’ Season 3: Logan Roy Wasn’t Wrong for Making Kendall’s Son Taste Food for Poison, Creator Jesse Armstrong Explains

“There’s me as the writer who has to convincingly, with my fellow writers, give a construction of a world which not just puts him through terrible things, that is true,” Armstrong said on TV’s Top Five. “He started this season with a lot of energy, hope and direction. So we have to follow what feels true to his character to where that takes him. Then I guess that’s one part of it and that just has to be. Well, doesn’t have to be new but I hope it is because we’re doing a TV drama and you don’t want to endlessly follow a circle around.”

Jeremy Strong is the only ‘Succession’ cast member who references Dostoyevsky

One of TV’s Top Five host Daniel Fienberg’s examples was from prior to the New Yorker profile. Strong had spoken with Fienberg about referencing Dostoyevsky. Armstrong confirmed they might talk about Dostoyevsky on the set of Succession. That makes Strong unique among the Succession cast and that’s okay.

There’s a part of me that’s a showrunner and person on set to talk to Jeremy. Then it’s a matter of just trying to be honest to him about what feels new in this situation and what feels old because it’s okay to sometimes feel that awful sickness of things happening again and that inability to climb out of the place you’re in. What are those conversations like? It’s good. If Jeremy’s quoting Dostoyevsky it’s because we’re talking sometimes about Dostoyevsky. You don’t want to get high on your own supply or pretentious but they’re not references which are, I don’t think, out of bounds for us to draw on. So I don’t mind a Dostoyevsky chat.

Jesse Armstrong, TV’s Top Five podcast, 12/17/21

Jesse Armstrong is staying out of the Jeremy Strong profile

Armstrong had not even read the New Yorker profile. He could only speak to working directly with Strong on Succession.

“I didn’t read Jeremy’s profile,” Armstrong said. “I know that it was kind of a kerfuffle. It sort of resolves itself culturally. So Jeremy is just an amazing actor. I couldn’t be more fortunate to have him in the show. I think everyone who saw that last episode and saw him doing that stuff in the carpark would think his process is pretty great to get there.”

RELATED: ‘Succession’ Season 3: Logan Roy Wasn’t Wrong for Making Kendall’s Son Taste Food for Poison, Creator Jesse Armstrong Explains