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The last season of Succession has arrived: the secrets of the son-in-law of the powerful Logan Roy


British actor Matthew Macfadyen's character grew unexpectedly at the end of the third batch of episodes. Today the fourth premieres, on HBO, and counts the behind the scenes.

Could there be a more excruciatingly awkward TV character than Tom Wambsgans on



Played with understated comedy by British actor Matthew Macfadyen, Tom manages to simultaneously exist at every point on the series' power spectrum: bullied, bullying, and helpless in between.

For the better part of three seasons, Tom stayed a step and a half behind the machinations of Waystar Royco, the company run by his imperious father-in-law,

Logan Roy

(Brian Cox), while

being treated with casual contempt by his wife, Shiv (Sarah Snook).

Matthew Macfadye, the actor who gave life to the character of Tom Wambsgans in Succession.

Photo: AFP


it came as a shock when Tom pulled himself together at the end of season three to orchestrate an impressive power play

, teaming with Logan against Shiv and two of his brothers in an epic battle over the future of Waystar.

Not that this guarantees Tom will end up on top in the fourth and final season of


, which

begins on HBO on Sunday


(Whatever "on top" really means.)

"Tom Keeps Maneuvering and Racing"

"Tom may be in Logan's camp, but it's not an easy camp," Macfadyen said one February afternoon, over a bitter and soda in the Carlyle Hotel's Bemelmans bar.

"He still doesn't feel particularly safe, and he's still worried about his relationship with Shiv. And everyone else is still maneuvering and competing."

The children of Logan Roy, always conspiring in Succession, which already has its fourth and final season.

If Macfadyen is operatically awkward in


, he is actually quite the opposite: relaxed, carefree, and affable, with a deep, self-assured voice, none of his character's nervous tics or frantic efforts to read his fate into words. the eyes of others.

While Tom is plagued by inner demons and crippling insecurity, Macfadyen comes across as extraordinarily well-adjusted, someone happy to do his job and not get too worked up about it.

He uses the word "lovely" a lot.

Little known in the United States

Macfadyen, long known to British viewers,

had been largely unnoticed on this side of the Atlantic




Macfadyen in Succession, fourth and final season.

If Americans knew him, it was for his role as another Tom: Tom Quinn, an arrogant and vulnerable spy in the first two seasons of the British series


(known in the US as


), starting in 2002. Or you can who have seen him playing a brooding and tortured Mr. Darcy in Joe Wright's

Pride and Prejudice

(2005), or a Victorian detective in the BBC series

Ripper Street


It was a different role that won over


creator Jesse Armstrong : Macfadyen's role as the drunkard Sir Felix Carbury in

The Way We Live Now

(2001), a British miniseries based on the novel by Anthony Trollope.

"He's well known in the UK for his ability to play all sorts of roles, although most people don't necessarily know him as a comedic actor," says Armstrong.

Although Tom started


largely on the sidelines, "I knew this role would be meaningful and important," Armstrong said.

As the series progressed,

the writers took advantage of Macfadyen's comedic chops and her ability to display Tom's poignant vulnerability

in quieter moments.

"In a series that deals with power and its manifestations, Matthew plays very well a character who is at the center of different power relationships," explains Armstrong.

"It's good at showing Tom's willingness to mold and adjust his personality to fit into the power structure."

As Macfadyen recently explained on

The Tonight Show

, one way to do this is to pitch Tom's voice up and down, depending on who else is in the scene.

A theatrical beginning

Macfadyen, 48,

was born in England but grew up abroad


She spent several years in Jakarta, Indonesia, due to his father's job in the oil business.

He went to boarding school in his country, skipped college, and enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Matthew Macfadyen at the "Succession" Season 4 premiere at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Photo: AFP

After graduating, she toured internationally with the Cheek by Jowl theater group, performing in such plays as

The Duchess of Malfi


A Midsummer Night's Dream


The role of Hareton Earnshaw in the British television adaptation of

Wuthering Heights

in 1998 brought him great success, which was followed by a two-part BBC film,


, in which he played a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia.

Since then he has not stopped working.

"One gains momentum," he says.

Macfadyen has a tendency, common to English actors, to downplay his work, as if everything flows effortlessly.

She also has a predilection for supporting roles.

"I think sometimes you can fall into a rut when you're playing leads," he said.

"It's much more fun to be the villain or the clown."

Tom Wambsgan's character

Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the protagonist and axis of "Succession", which premiered its fourth and final season


is full of big names and memorable characters, including the three Roy boys: Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck), each scary and damaged in their own way.


Tom Wambsgans, mercurial but sensitive, devilish and often hapless, stood out from the start


There's the matter of his strange last name, with its awkward B bristling aggressively into a string of consonants, defying casual pronunciation.

There's his status as a punching bag for Roy, a man whose wife announced on her wedding night that she wanted an open marriage and whose father-in-law hangs power before him but uses him as a scapegoat and trunk.

There's also her crazed relationship with cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), a sadomasochistic romp that Armstrong describes as a "homoerotic power play."

Though Tom isn't stupid, his clumsiness is so easy to mistake for stupidity that sometimes even Macfadyen does.

"Jesse will remind Nick and me: 'He runs a multi-million dollar wing of this company; he's not a complete jerk,'" he said. Over the course of four seasons of filming in New York, the cast of Succession became very close,


not it was rare to see them dining around town in various configurations in what Macfadyen called "the


supper club


He often dined with Snook, his fictional wife, and other cast members.

"I don't know how he managed to make such a fawning, bullying character likable, but he did," said Snook.

"He's one of those actors who has so much love, empathy, compassion and curiosity about the world that he can turn a character into whatever he wants."

Macfadyen seems to be something of a rarity: an actor without a huge ego.

(Or maybe he's such a good actor that he can hide his ego).

Among other things, he said, he never felt compelled to demand more airtime or a better story arc for Tom.

"I've seen actors take great pride in their 'journey,'" he said.

"But I don't feel like it's my character: it's Jesse's, and I'm the conduit for him."

Also, "you don't want to get attached to a potential argument, because they might change their minds."

The virtues of the actor

Brian Cox, Sarah Snook, Jeremy Strong, Matthew Macfadyen, J. Smith-Cameron and Nicholas Braun, 2022 Emmy winners for "Succession."

Photo: AP

Braun said Macfadyen has a genuine detachment, a useful quality on a show where multiple actors are often involved in a single scene.

He also praised Macfadyen's amazing ability to stay in the moment as he performs, and to do so with an absence of vanity.

"He doesn't expend a lot of extra energy before a scene," Braun said.

"He's not ruminating or taking a lot of private time or 'maintaining energy' from Tom."

In this sense, Macfadyen seems the opposite of his co-star Strong, whose intensity and extreme immersion in his characters were widely reviewed in The New Yorker and elsewhere.

Macfadyen was reluctant to discuss this issue.

"I think that's been talked about enough," he said.



is carefully scripted, the actors are encouraged to improvise and play with alternate dialogue.

Braun and Macfadyen, who shared some of the show's funniest scenes, are famous around the studio for cracking up at each other.

"The guy is abusive in a way that's not over the top," Braun says of Tom.

"Obviously they amuse each other," Armstrong said dryly.

Personal life


is married to British actress Keeley Hawes

, whom he met when they were both playing spies on



They had a very public affair - she then had a husband and a baby - but they married in 2004, after her divorce, and they had two children together.

Macfadyen said they have all become great friends and stepfamily.

"It was a bit bumpy at the time, but it's okay now," he said.

Macfadyen missed his family during the filming of


, often flying to England when he had a break from filming.


he was nostalgic for the series finale


"It was a really lovely group of actors," he said.

"It's strange how painful it is to finish a job. It's horrible and heartbreaking, but at the same time there's a slight relief, a complicated mix of feelings."

Macfadyen worked tirelessly on other projects between seasons.

In the British series


, which premiered in January, he played the conservative politician of the 1970s, John Stonehouse.

It was a juicy role: Stonehouse spied (badly) for Czechoslovakia, got involved in shady dealings, cheated on his wife, faked his own death and turned up under an assumed name in Australia.

Mrs. Stonehouse was played by Hawes, whose character soon realizes that her husband is not all he seems.

"It was fun getting the chance to watch Keeley work," Macfadyen said, "especially her glares."

Macfadyen's next project, with Nicole Kidman, is

Holland, Michigan

, an Amazonian thriller about the secrets lurking in a small town.

He doesn't seem worried about what will come next.

Unlike Tom Wambsgans, Macfadyen is content with his place in the world.

"The whole art of being an actor is imagining what it's like to be someone else with sympathy and empathy, not making everything revolve around yourself," he says.

"The work is great. I like the old fashion of putting on a costume and sounding different and doing things you would never think of doing in real life."


look also

Eva Longoria's debut as a director can be seen on two streaming platforms at the same time

The vertiginous life of Oscar "Ringo" Bonavena: a fiction with its own flight, which does not deify or destroy anyone

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-26

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