SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched the sixth episode of “Succession” Season 3, titled “What It Takes.”
Could a Connor Roy presidency be in the future of “Succession”? What started out as a throwaway gag in Season 2 now seems like a legitimate possibility as a heated presidential election looms with several aspiring candidates.
In “What It Takes,” the sixth episode of Season 3, the Roy family attends a private, high-profile gathering of politicians and donors to choose the next presidential hopeful to support. With their all-powerful news network ATN, which ran a smear campaign against the current president and caused him to not seek reelection, the Roys hold immense power. Logan (Brian Cox), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) debate backing different would-be candidates, but one dark horse emerges who they briefly discuss: Connor Roy (Alan Ruck).
The eldest sibling already has a base of fanatic supporters (called Conheads), the power of the Roy family name and a political outsider persona that rouses some of the donors, including one Panhandle Pete. There’s a general sense of “Seriously?” as Logan floats the idea by his children, but Roman later prevails with his inflammatory candidate, Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk), and Greg (Nicholas Braun) admits, “I think I owe it to my country to say, I don’t think you should crown Connor president.”
Here, Ruck tells Variety about Connor’s true political ambitions, the Trump-like parallels and how he might spoil the race as a third-party candidate.
What are Connor’s political stances?
Connor’s platform basically is composed of whatever he’s interested in on that particular day. He’s very much like Logan, any other member of the Roy family or member of the 1%, which is, “I have my money, leave me alone.” He’s very interested in protecting his fortune, and he’s really not interested in paying any taxes. He’s got a seat-of-his-pants, sketchy ideology. I once described Connor’s brain as a mixed-up box of Trivial Pursuit cards. He’s not a dummy, but he is really scattered and delusional. The political thing so far, he’s trying to figure out something to make his father sit down and say, “My god, Connor, that was really amazing,” which has never happened in Connor’s life; he never got praise from his dad. He’s trying to find something that will impress his father and potentially make his father need him. At this point, he’s viewing the presidential race as a popularity contest.
Did you draw any parallels from Trump’s election to Connor’s plan to run?
We all lived through that, so I don’t think we should ever take anything for granted. The country is so big and so fractured — there are millions of people, who you and I will probably never rub elbows with, living life on a different wavelength. There are a lot of people who get swept under the carpet, and they’ve been ignored for a long time. People think because they’re American, all their dreams are supposed to come true, whether they work for them or not. There are a lot of people out there who are entitled but have also been neglected, and they’re really pissed off. I think if somebody comes along, as Trump did, and said, “You people are good people. You know what the problem is? These people over here.” This is nothing new. This is a page out of the Nazi playbook. When you have a bunch of disenfranchised people and they’re mad and they’re looking for somebody to blame and someone shows up, there you go. I don’t know exactly how Connor is going to pitch himself. I’m waiting to find out from [“Succession” creator] Jesse Armstrong and the gang which way they’re going to twist this. I think Connor’s learning that to get ahead in this family, you have to play dirty, and I think he’s becoming more willing to do that.
To cause more drama, would Connor ever switch parties or run as an independent against the candidate his family backs?
I don’t think that’s a strange idea at all. Connor is determined to make his mark however he can. If that eventually winds up happening that he goes third party or independent, I think at the very least Connor is hoping he’ll have enough of a following at the convention that somebody’s gonna come to him and say, “Listen, why don’t you help us out. Why don’t you throw your support behind us.” He’s looking to increase his power however he’s able to do that. If that means going against the grain and against the family, I think he’d do it in a heartbeat.
What would be Connor’s campaign slogan?
“No taxes, no worries.”
Connor and Willa [Justine Lupe] might be the first presidential couple to have met “online.” What would Willa do as First Lady?
I think Willa would study past First Ladies and see what they were interested in. I remember Lady Bird Johnson’s whole thing was Make America Beautiful. [Laughs] I can see Willa leaning in that kind of direction. She might get inspired by Jackie Kennedy’s tour of the White House because we play into her aspirations as a playwright. As we’ve seen with Trump and Melania — she was not a typical First Lady — so I think Willa would be fine. [Laughs] Willa would be better as First Lady than Connor would as president.
Would Connor choose any of his siblings as his Vice President or any cabinet positions?
Unequivocally no. That would be Connor’s game, and he wouldn’t want it messed up with his brothers and sister, who are incapable of listening. Connor was never really interested or in play to run the corporation. If the other three knuckleheads would learn how to listen and dial down the ego just for a while, the three of them running the company would’ve been great. They’re very bright, it’s just their egos are bigger than their intellects. They are absolutely incapable of listening — they do aggressive listening. “Are you done with your bullshit idea so I can tell you what’s really going on?” That’s how they listen. Connor would not want to have them around.
“Succession” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.