Most people look at Nicholas Braun and associate him with Cousin Greg from the wildly popular HBO series Succession, but there’s much more to this actor than meets the eye. In a career that spanned from 2005 to now, he’s been in everything from Sky High, The Year of Spectacular Men, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, and will soon be seen in A24’s highly anticipated release Zola. When he’s not working, he spends time writing and recording his own music. Nicholas Braun is, in many ways, a Renaissance man. Braun took some to chat with AwardWatch’s Dewey Singleton and covered a wide range of topics from what excites him as an artist to who is the biggest prankster in the Succession cast.
Dewey Singleton: Nicholas, how are you?
Nicholas Braun: Doing well. How are you?
I’m doing fine … I just want to start by saying congratulations, sir, on all your success with Succession.
Thank you so much. Thank you, it’s just one of the great jobs I’ve ever had. It just continues to get better, and I feel very lucky to be on this show.
I’m sure fans pitch you ideas for storylines left and right, but I’m not necessarily interested in that … Have you ever been in a situation where a celebrity or a famous figure has tried to corner you and say I’ve got an idea for the show?
Probably…well, Bradley Cooper is a big fan of the show; he didn’t pitch me any storylines per se … but he just had lots of theories, and he wanted to check on different theories, and different things like ‘what was the intention of this moment and why did this happen?’ It’s kind of amazing hearing that from people, and especially someone like him who I revere completely.
Do you think the fans collectively underestimate Greg and his influence on the show?
I think Greg started as a pretty harmless spectator in the pilot and the first couple of episodes. He’s pretty desperately trying just to be included, let alone have any currency or influence in a room. I think he’s highly ambitious, so I think the writing started to sort of suit that, and he slowly started gaining these cards that he could play. His cunning kind of came out of nowhere and it started to sort of secretly build and by the end of Season Two he’s got a nice piece of leverage.
I’ve noticed with your music and the characters you’ve played they’re sweet at first, but then they become deceptively complex. Is the complexity of something that you find personally exciting?
Well, first, did you listen to my music?
Oh man, that is awesome, and thank you so much. Yeah I think you’re… I think you’re right about that. With my characters … I think it’s nice to continue to unveil more aspects of a person … I guess that’s a part of my creative process.
Now, has Jesse Armstrong or any of the writing team sat down with you, or even you know the whole cast at some point and give you guys kind of an idea where everything is headed?
I had a conversation with Jesse a few months ago, but it was right before COVID struck.
In terms of season three, have you seen any of the scripts?
No, I haven’t seen anything.
But having that conversation with Jessie has to mean things are on the horizon.
I think so. I think Greg will be tested more. His morals will be tested more; he’s just trying to carve out a bigger slice of this pie.
Time for a change of pace… who breaks character the most on set?
I would say, Matthew [Macfadyen] … Matthew and I crack each other up. He’s actually really good at smiling for a second and then immediately tightening it back up and staying in the scene … I’m worse at it … so when he breaks … I break.
My editor Erik Anderson had a chance to talk with Matthew recently and apparently a portion of the interview was spent gushing over you.
Oh, man, that’s so nice … Yeah, I love Matthew. I learned so much from him; he’s become a role model for me as an actor. So I feel very lucky to get to do scenes with him and I mean, everything they give us – it’s just really fun. But I love the way he approaches his work.
Who is the biggest prankster on set?
Kieran [Culkin] … He does this thing where he licks his finger and puts it my drink without me knowing, and then I’ll drink from it during scene and after the take ends, he’ll go “Gotcha!” It’s a really fun game.
Were you ever been presented scripts in the 1st two seasons where you thought … what the hell?
I would say the sausage scene from “Boar on the Floor.” It was like reading a play. It was like… ‘Oh my God’ … it was a 12-page scene, and we never had a scene that was that weird and sadistic and just ugly. It’s just an ugly, uncomfortable scene. So I think when I read that I said… ‘Oh, shit … Succession just changed’ … We just went to another level, and I loved it. That was a very cool moment to read that script and be like, ‘Okay, this season is going to turn the hell up.’
It had to have been the most emotionally draining scene that season.
The way I remember it, I felt like I could have done it ten more times.
Why is that?
I just think I felt like that scene was so alive. That this is why we do this, this is why we’re actors. This is why we’re making a show like this and these are the moments where you feel like we’re living in an alternate reality; one that just happens to be captured by cameras and this is just fun, you know. I wasn’t ready for it to be over.
Season two of Succession is currently streaming exclusively on HBO platforms.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.