Troika co-founders Conor McCaughan and Michael Duff have left the esteemed British agency they built up over 15 years into one of the U.K.’s top talent firms.
Variety has confirmed McCaughan and Duff have departed the business, which they co-founded in 2005 with Melanie Rockcliffe and grew into one of the country’s leading management firms for drama and comedy talent. It’s believed the duo’s contracts will officially conclude at the end of the year, and it’s still unclear what their next steps will be.
Collectively, McCaughan and Duff’s client rosters represent some of the agency’s — and indeed the British industry’s — top names, including Jamie Dornan, Michael Fassbender, Paddy Considine, Ruth Wilson, Babou Ceesay, Peter Capaldi, Holliday Grainger, Michaela Coel, Jenna Coleman, Juno Temple, Matt Smith, Joe Dempsie, Keeley Hawes, Lena Headey and Daisy Haggard.
The agents’ departure also comes amid a rebranding of Troika, Variety can reveal. This next evolution of the business will follow three years of M&A upheaval for the London-based agency.
Troika merged with management outfit James Grant Group (JGG) in 2017, though the firms kept their brand identities separate, and the executive team of McCaughan, Duff and Rockcliffe stayed on to oversee Troika. JGG’s clients spanned entertainment, music and sports, with a client list that included Steve Aoki, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, and Louis Tomlinson, helping to diversify the merged business.
In 2018, JGG was majority-acquired by private equity firm Trilantic Europe and rebranded as YMU Group. Collectively, the mega-agency’s divisions span London, New York, Washington and Manchester, and include JGG, Deckstar, Furniss Lawton, Hall or Nothing and Impact Sports Management — all of which have operated under the YMU brand since early 2019. The only part of the business that remained distinct was Troika.
However, moving forward, Troika will be further integrated into YMU, and is to rebrand as YMU Drama. The agency will continue to operate with its remaining five directors, which include co-founder Rockcliffe, who counts Graham Norton and Matt Lucas among her clients. The agency’s other top acting talent include Richard Madden, Sonoya Mizuno, Elsa Pataky and Rodrigo Santoro.
YMU Group CEO Neil Rodford shared with Variety: “I can confirm that two of the original founders of Troika, Conor McCaughan and Michael Duff, will be leaving Troika/YMU Drama & Comedy at the end of the year to pursue new endeavours. I want to express our gratitude for all their hard work and wisdom as we have integrated this new division into our group. I also want to place on record my thanks to Conor and Michael for leaving us with such a rich legacy and in the safe hands of our first class, experienced team.”
McCaughan formed Troika after a stint at ICM, while Duff was a director at Lou Coulson Associates and Rockcliffe was head of Talkback Management. They built Troika from the ground up, with early clients including Paddy Considine, Keeley Hawes, Lena Headey, Graham Norton and “Little Britain” duo Matt Lucas and David Walliams — all of whom continue to be represented by Troika.
Announcing the company back in 2005, the founders said the business was “born out of a shared belief that artist representation in the U.K. can be revitalized to reflect the global nature of the business.” The team has a loyal following among British talent, many of whom have remained with Troika because of strong relationships with McCaughan and Duff.
In recent years, McCaughan has also moved into producing, setting up DMC Film with client Fassbender, and producing films including “Macbeth,” “Slow West” and the recent “Calm with Horses.” The business struck a first-look film production deal with New Republic Pictures in 2019.
Tim Dams and Justin Kroll contributed to this report.