Blink and you’ll miss it. Kieran Culkin clarified whether Roman Roy actually had a wife and child in the first episode of Succession.
“Not his kid. Not his wife, either. It was in the pilot, and after it was picked up, it was his girlfriend, and she had a child,” Culkin, 40, revealed to Variety on Monday, April 24.
The New York native, who shares daughter Kinsey, 3, and son Wilder, 20 months, with wife Jazz Charton, recalled being excited to see his character as a father.
“I’m wearing my real wedding band in the episode. I was excited about the idea of having a kid, and the kid was like 7 or 8,” he added. “It was a little disappointing, but I think the idea was that it would just give them more freedom to play with the character.”
According to the actor, Succession originally planned to explore Roman’s personal life on a larger scale.
“They had mentioned to me, even before we shot the pilot, about questioning what Roman’s sexuality is — and we don’t know what it is,” he explained. “But it put something in my brain, and I was like, ‘OK, but I’m married and have kids?’ They were toying with the idea that she’s aware that you have sort of hangups sexually when it comes to monogamy, and might be more fluid, but we don’t know what that is yet.”
The hit HBO series, which debuted in 2018, centers around a wealthy family who is fighting for control of a company amid their father’s health issues. Throughout the seasons, Roman found himself growing closer with a Waystar RoyCo employee Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron).
Culkin previously opened up about working with Smith-Cameron, 65, to bring the unique dynamic to life.
“I like that there’s quite a few things going on there. It’s not one thing. It’s something and nothing, all at once. He definitely means it, but he really doesn’t mean it, which is just a tremendous amount of fun to play,” he told Collider in December 2021. “Working with J., I’ve known her for a long time. We were friends before the show, and I’ve also seen her work a lot and know that she happens to be fantastic, so coming into work, after we got picked up, because she wasn’t in the pilot, seeing that she was cast as Gerri, that was actually my first day at work back and I was like, ‘This is gonna be so much fun.’”
The Emmy nominee praised his scene partner for helping add to the story on screen.
“She’s an amazing actress, so I knew that. And the, I knew her personally and there’s a friendship there, so there was a good chance that we’d be able to work off each other pretty well. It just works well,” Culkin continued. “It always feels easy and it’s a ton of fun, when I know the next day, I’m doing a scene with just me and J. Not that it makes the air, but they let the cameras roll and they let us just go, but just for us to help inform us, the actors, as to how these people would interact. It’s just tremendous fun. She’s one of the best scene partners anyone could have.”
Smith-Cameron, for her part, noted that her friendship with Culkin inspired the writers to explore Roman and Gerri’s relationship further on the show.
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“We had a little talk about how you can’t get a good martini in England unless you were in London,” she told The Times in April. “Then I left and he looked back at me, and then I looked back at him. We missed each other. And it was this look that was caught by the writers.”