‘Succession’ Season 3: How Does Kieran Culkin Film Roman’s Reactions in the Show?

Kieran Culkin plays the role of the boastful Romulus Roman Roy in the HBO drama Succession. Roman Roy is known for his cocky tongue-in-cheek humor but also his lack of focus to get work done. In the show, as the Roy siblings battle it out for their father’s business conglomerate Waystar Royco, Roman’s misguided attempts to get his father’s attention land him in more trouble. But this never comes in the way of his quick-witted tongue and self-assured demeanor. 

Kieran Culkin, from chest up, standing in front of a white backround with his side face toward the camera.
Kieran Culkin | Jemal Countess/Getty Images for IFP

Who is Roman Roy?

The youngest of four Roy siblings, Roman is an impulsive and snappy person. While he does come across as the most spoilt one of them all, he has his own problems to deal with. The fact that his family doesn’t seem to take him seriously adds to his inability and need to take initiative. Though his journey through two seasons of the show has not been a bed of roses, Roman has always emerged from every situation with his sense of humor intact. 

In season two, however, the audience sees a slightly different side of Roman as he tries to take more responsibility to prove to his father that he is worthy of taking over his business empire. Well-intended though his actions, they seem to backfire a lot. 

But in a unique and strange friendship with Gerri, the General Counsel at Waystar Royco, Roman seems to find both support and a strange sexual intimacy that motivates him to put in some effort. 

Through these changes what makes Roman stand apart are his jokes and reactions that emerge without any filter, almost always giving a sense of what everyone in the room might be thinking but is too afraid to say. 

How does Culkin project such reactions?  

According to a Vulture article by Hunter Harris, Culkin likes to keep his reactions genuine and to that effect refrains from knowing what another character is going to say in a scene. For Culkin, the character comes into focus as soon as he is on set and sees his fellow cast members. 

He is the only cast member to add improv reactions in a scene, Vulture reports. The fact that he can be as snazzy as Roman helps in that endeavor. 

“Kieran can be a bit of a snarky b***h sometimes,” Jon Schwartz the show’s assistant costume designer laughingly tells Harris.

Culkin admits that what he has more trouble doing is getting out of his character once the shoot for the day is done. 

Getting out of character is a difficult job

After spending a day delivering blunt and often unfiltered thoughts in humorous dialogues, Culkin finds it hard to turn the funny switch off.

“Except it’s me,” he says. “So it’s not that funny. I just can’t shut up.”

He says it’s fine if he is out with people after the shoot, but a problem emerges if Culkin’s wife has to bear the brunt of his pent-up energy and Roman-esque behavior.

“Sometimes when I come home, my wife is tired,” Culkin says. “She’s trying to be polite, and she wants to hear about my day but I won’t shut the hell up.”

While these problems often bother Culkin, the audiences will remain happy as long as they get to see Roman with his one-liners in Season 3 of Succession — which will come out this October. 

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