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Kieran Culkin Refused to Read For Cousin Greg When First Approached With ‘Succession’

The show was almost very different from what we know today.

Kieran Culkin Graeme Hunter/HBO

For Succession fans today, it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Kieran Culkin as acerbic little brother Roman Roy—but back when HBO was first casting the project, they approached Culkin with a different role in mind. Culkin first read the script after his team had been approached to see if he wanted to read for the role of Cousin Greg, now played by Nicholas Braun.

Culkin, knowing himself as an actor, immediately felt that he wouldn’t be right for Greg, and actually refused to read for that role, he told Variety this week. Roman, however, he felt an immediate affinity for, and he asked if he could read for that role instead.

“They sent me to read for Greg, and I knew I wasn’t Greg,” Culkin explained to Variety. “I read the first element and knew that’s just not me. What’s fun about that is I thought the writing was good enough 10 pages in and just kept reading, which I don’t normally do. Then the character Roman walks in and says, ‘Hey, hey motherfuckers,’ and then I was like, he’s fun, and kept reading.”

Nicholas Braun in 'Succession'
Nicholas Braun Peter Kramer/HBO

“I’m wrong for Greg, so that’s a pass, but I don’t want to pass,” Culkin says he told his team, asking instead: “Can I read for Roman?”

Culkin’s team told him that the production wasn’t casting for Roman yet—but the actor pressed on, certain that he’d found a good fit, and even the response he gave sounds very much like something we might hear from our dear Romulus.

“The response I got back was they’re not reading for Roman yet,” Culkin continued. “And I said, ‘Can I do it anyway?’ My agent at the time was like, yeah, go ahead, play the game. So I picked three scenes, put myself on tape, and sent it in.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Once they heard Culkin’s dulcet tones reading out “hey hey motherfuckers,” we can’t imagine there was a doubt in their minds—but it’s definitely entertaining to picture an alternate universe where it’s Kieran Culkin puking into his amusement park mascot head in the pilot instead.

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