Jeremy Strong, the actor best known for his role as Kendall Roy on HBO’s Succession, was portrayed as someone who was very difficult to work with, according to a viral profile published in The New Yorker. The controversial article paints Jeremy Strong as an actor who goes to great lengths to give everything to his roles – much like his idols Daniel Day-Lewis and Dustin Hoffman – even if it is to the detriment of those who work alongside him.
Picking up a Golden Globe nomination on Monday for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Drama Series, Jeremy Strong also capped off a highly watched season finale of Succession the night before. He won an Emmy last year for the fan-favorite role of Kendall Roy, as the King Lear-meets-Rupert-Murdoch series continues to dazzle critics.
“Strong was perfectly cast,” wrote Michael Schulman in the viral New Yorker profile, “a background player who had spent his life aspiring, and often maneuvering, to fill the shoes of his acting gods.” He compares his career to that of Kendall Roy, stating that he too, “desperately wants it to be his turn.”
Many of Jeremy Strong’s castmates and contemporaries have come out in his defense since the article was published, stating that the profile described a “distorted” image of the actor. According to those who have criticized The New Yorker piece, many have claimed that Schulman misused their quotes to show only the negative, making it seem as if they are all rolling their eyes at Jeremy when that is simply not the case.
Releasing a statement in response through actress Jessica Chastain, director and writer Aaron Sorkin, who worked with Jeremy Strong on Molly‘s Game and The Trial of the Chicago 7, said that he had to speak up after he felt that his words were taken out of context.
“Jeremy is not a nut,” Sorkin said in his statement. “He doesn’t make people call him by his character’s name on the set. But he built himself an on-ramp so that he’s already started to give the performance by the time the director calls action.”
Aaron Sorkin explained that Jeremy respects his craft is not to the detriment to everyone around him, as the profile seemed to suggest.
“Jeremy Strong is a great actor and a great company member,” Sorkin concluded. “There isn’t a writer, director or producer on Earth who wouldn’t want to grab at the chance to cast him.”
Adam McKay, who serves as an executive producer on Succession, also chimed in, adding, “I couldn’t agree more. Jeremy is not only a lovely guy but a brilliant actor who was cast in Succession precisely because of his passion the New Yorker writer mocks.”
In the profile, Michael Schulman discusses two scenes in which Jeremy Strong allegedly annoyed co-star Frank Langella with a kazoo, and also asked to be tear gassed to mimic what happened to the character he was playing, despite other people being present around him.
Responding to criticism from the profile, a spokesman from The New Yorker told Deadline that, “This is a nuanced, multi-sided portrait of an extremely dedicated actor. It has inspired a range of reactions from people, including many who say that they are even more impressed by Jeremy Strong’s artistry after having read the article.”
Even if Jeremy Strong is difficult to work with or pretentious about his roles, as The New Yorker piece suggests, it appears from his colleagues and co-stars that it doesn’t seem to matter. No one has said that he’s impossible to work with, or that they wouldn’t work with him again, and although he may not be the Dustin Hoffman-type he aspires to be, he has been racking up award after award.
As Succession co-star Brian Cox clarified on Late Night with Seth Meyers, “The thing about Jeremy’s approach is it works in terms of what comes out the other end.”
“My problem—and, it’s not a problem, I don’t have a problem with Jeremy because he’s delightful. He’s an extraordinary dad. He’s a pretty unique individual. But he does get obsessed with the work,” Cox said. “And I worry about what it does to him, because if you can’t separate yourself—because you’re dealing with all of this material every day, you can’t live in it—eventually, you get worn out.”