It’s a pretty safe bet that Succession is going to win the 2019 Golden Globe for best TV series-musical or comedy.
This HBO series is pretty fun to watch — an over-the-top comedy of which you can thank showrunner Jesse Armstrong. He co-created the show with Michael London (“Sideways”), Brian Grazer (“24”) and Mike Tollin (“Smallville”).
The series tells the story of the Taylor family, which operates a global media empire. Executive producer Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) stars as the patriarch, who wants to cement his legacy by making his three youngest children CEO of the company.
Kelsey Grammer plays the patriarch’s ambitious, former right-hand man and current executive.
Peter Mullan portrays the patriarch’s aggressive youngest son, who refuses to follow in his footsteps and who has been dating a woman (Anna Madeley) who didn’t make the cut.
Happily, Mullan appeared on “Succession” before the casting. So he was able to change his wardrobe for the role, even though it’s dark and smudgy. Mullan was so caught up in the experience, he has been suffering from diarrhea and had to find the bathroom before scene after scene. He also had to get used to filming in fake snow and ice because the show takes place outside of New York City. (The snow turns real before the camera even begins rolling.)
Additionally, Mullan is good friends with ex-Washington Post editor Marty Baron, who he says gave him helpful advice before “Succession” began production. He also met with dignitaries who could offer advice about doing a show in New York.
“Marty was very supportive,” Mullan says. “I don’t think I got his feedback, but he did help me with it when I was shooting in Washington, D.C. It helped me navigate the political world because of what he knows.”
Mullan, who grew up in Perth, Australia, says his job on “Succession” was incredibly surreal. “It was like — nothing is ever really in the script, but you’re doing a scene with someone and you suddenly see 100 extras on that set come in and they have got red coats that would light up. They are all just completely in the vein of who and what they are on that day,” he says.
“And I wasn’t that familiar with any of them,” he says. “You’re just getting into these characters and you have to be really cool and I was trying my very best to do it. But, to be honest, it was just really fun and a truly bizarre thing to do.”
Mullan says he is well acquainted with Washington. He was an economics student at the University of Western Australia, studying economics and computer science. He was intrigued by history, politics and economics.
“I was never really interested in acting as a teenager, and then I just sort of became aware of it later on when I was studying at university and getting involved in student politics,” Mullan says. “Then I thought, well, I would love to just write stuff and then I was like, oh, I’m writing about politics and war and revolution and then that changed into writing about how you make art. And I was like, well, I’d love to direct and write my own things and I was like oh, there’s a career here!”
He was in his early 20s when he moved to London to study at Eton. At that time, he says, “I had read a ton of history of war, but I thought writing and drawing were much more interesting to me.” He soon realized he didn’t really enjoy either career. So, he switched gears.
“When I moved to London I got really involved in theater and politics and a very provocative, anti-capitalism agenda. And so I wrote that and it blew up.”
“Shekhinah,” his debut screenplay, won the prestigious Grierson Award in 1988.
Mullan says the issue was “just an ideology for me, like an outdated sort of historical sort of argument that if you didn’t like it, you should ignore it and if you did like it, you should go the other way, which is sort of a more universal, populist kind of argument and