The season premiere of HBO’s “Succession” saw a lot of moves on the chess board that is the Roy family’s power struggle.
One of the pieces on that board, Greg, the beloved-by-viewers character who lives somewhere on thin border of the family’s inner circle, took a place on Team Kendall in the season opener, standing beside him as he launched an attack against Logan. But will he be tempted to realign with his powerful uncle? Will he play both sides?
Actor Nicholas Braun was careful with his answers when CNN caught up with him, admitting that he’s terrible at teasing plot points. Luckily, in addition to talking about Greg’s trajectory, there was much more to chat about.
This conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
CNN: The big question is where Greg’s loyalties lie and is particularly concerned about his own safety and security. How does he cope with dilemma that going forward?
Nicholas Braun, actor: Greg is between multiple potential places to land. I think Greg feels unsafe all the time. He doesn’t know ever where the safest places [are], especially this season. There’s the threat of going to jail. There’s a lot of places for Greg to get knocked down. That’s a big part of his season – how do I do this? Where do I go?
CNN: Going into this season, was it at all your hope that he would find a friend – like a real one? Someone outside of the family who doesn’t have an ulterior motive and someone who could be like, ‘Greg, are you okay?’
Totally. I think Greg really needs someone to ask him if he’s okay. I think he’s kind of lonely in this world. There’s always Tom for some version of companionship. But, yeah, I think Greg does need a friend. He does start a relationship with someone this year – starts to, at least. [He] seeks a relationship. It doesn’t necessarily work the way he wants to, but that’s a nice piece of growth for him. But what you said is right – he does need somebody and something that feels nice in this world. Nothing really feels good ever. Everything feels bad.
Which describes a lot of people on this show, I suppose. Do you ever think about what Greg wants from life? What is he really seeking being part of this world?
I think about that a lot. I mean, I think he wants the proximity to power, the proximity to influence, or this circle that influences a lot of people. I think he always wanted to be part of this side of the family.
Him and his grandpa don’t get along that. There’s not a lot of chemistry between those two guys. His grandpa is also like stingy and doesn’t sharing any of the money. And his mom, who we met briefly in the first season, is a bit of a headcase. He just wanted out of that life and into the one that’s in the public eye and successful.
Once you get in that, I think it’s very addictive. When you can get on yachts and private planes and have all the spoils of it, it’s pretty exciting. I think hard to imagine, “I guess I’ll go back to living with my mom.” So how can you survive? And then how can you leap forward? I think he’s acquiring the skills in order to do that.
Do you ever wonder what kind of teenager he was? What brought him to the point of being this guy kind of has confidence but lacks the ability to execute it in a way?
I think he is an only child and was kind of protected by his mother. I think he wanted to break out.
Personality wise, maybe he was a bit of…I see him as like a skater or [someone who] smoked a lot of weed. Maybe he dealt drugs in middle school – dealt weed to kids in middle school or high school. Maybe he was his own little entrepreneur and [that was how] he showed he had a little entrepreneurial spirit there. I think he was just a bit of a mess, and his mother wasn’t like helping him be like, “Get out there, son.” She was like holding him back. So he goes out there and Logan’s like, “Come on in here, buddy.” And that feels really good. .
The main thing missing for me in this Greg puzzle is he’s this 20-something living in the big city from somewhere else: Where are his friends or pieces of his past life?
[Executive producer] Jesse [Armstrong] and I have talked about it. We think that he has like some friend group, you know, coworkers from Waystar – fellow low-level people and executive assistants. But we don’t see them probably just because there’s so much going on in this show. You see one of them in episode two, this girl. Anyway, I hear you. It is part of being a young person in New York, especially like in this world. He can’t go over and like have dinner with Shiv and Tom.
What’s funny is that I’ve seen these betting odds for who’s going to take over the company, and Greg is this dark horse. Do you think people generally underestimate him?
Actually, the public does not underestimate Greg. A lot of people come up to me and they’re like, “I know you’re going to get the whole thing. I know that you’re going to take over. You’re going to be at the top.” I could see Greg being at the top for, like, five minutes. It’s like all of a sudden something happens and he’s like, “Am I the…am I the CEO?” And everyone’s like, “Yeah, you are.” And then something happens very quickly – “No, that was a mistake.” But who knows? I hope he keeps rising the ranks.