The popularity of “Succession” has turned Jeremy Strong into one of the most recognizable actors on the planet. But Strong’s rise to acting stardom has also been accompanied by its fair share of scrutiny surrounding his unorthodox acting process. A 2021 profile in The New Yorker was particularly controversial, highlighting the great lengths that Strong has gone to get into character, including asking to be tear gassed in preparation for his role in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
That article prompted plenty of discourse about Strong and the merits of what has come to be colloquially known as method acting (though Strong’s approach differs significantly from the original definition of the term). Many celebrities have come to Strong’s defense, while others have opened up about their lack of respect for method acting.
Strong isn’t particularly happy about any of it. Speaking to Vanity Fair from the Telluride Film Festival, where he is on hand to promote James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” Strong expressed some regret about the infamous profile. While he still stands by his acting process, the “Succession” star believes that the discourse surrounding the piece ultimately served as an unnecessary distraction.
“[The profile] ultimately said more about the person writing it and their perspective, which is a valid perspective, than it did about who I feel I am and what I’m about,” Strong said. “The noise and the fog after it: I think it’s something that, I guess, what I care about ultimately is trying to feel as free as possible as an actor. Part of that is trying to insulate yourself from all of that, and what people might say about you or think about you. You have to free yourself from that. It was painful. I felt foolish. As an actor, one of the most vital secret weapons that you can have is the ability to tolerate feeling foolish.”
Still, no amount of media attention is going to compel Strong to change his ways. He believes that method acting allows him to do his best work and sees no reason to change that to appease his critics.
“At the end of the day, it’s quite simple,” he said. “You do all this stuff so that you can work as unconsciously as possible. When you’re working on the frontier of your unconscious, I think good work is possible. There’s really not much you can say about that because it’s your unconscious. All that stuff, I have to treat it as vapor and mist. It’s not really relevant to the work.”