'Succession' Star Matthew Macfadyen on the Show's 18 Emmy Nominations, Status of Season 3

The actor imagines how the Roy family would handle the pandemic: "Tom and Greg both would be terrible, terrible asymptomatic super-spreaders."
Zach Dilgard/HBO
Matthew Macfadyen

Most actors found out about their Emmy nominations first thing this morning, but for London-based Succession star Matthew Macfadyen, the good news came in the afternoon.

Just as he was about to head out to do some grocery shopping, he learned he'd received his first-ever Emmy nomination, one of 18 nominations the HBO drama collected Tuesday morning. Macfadyen has been spending the past few months in London with his wife and two children as he awaits word the third season of the series, which had been slated to start filming in April before getting pushed indefinitely.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the actor, who portrays Tom Wambsgans in the family drama, to hear about how he's been holding up during the lockdown, his celebration plans and how he imagines the Roy family would be handling a pandemic like this one: "Tom and Greg both would be terrible, terrible asymptomatic super-spreaders."

Congrats on the nomination. What were you doing when you found out?

Thank you. I was just about to go to the supermarket. Unglamorous, but that's the truth of it. And then I got a really nice call from my agent and my agent in the states and they all said congrats. It was lovely.

Where have you been spending the lockdown?

I'm at home in London. We've been here. We had a couple of weeks away in the countryside. We rented a cottage and just went away for a bit — but we've mainly been in London. We've been very lucky. We've got a garden and a house, so we're not too cooped up together. Our teenagers haven't killed each other and we haven't killed them. It's been quite nice to have a pause on life.

How are things in London? Hopefully better than in the U.S.?

Yeah, I think so. Masks are mandatory now inside shops and restaurants and stuff. Where I am, it's a sort of suburb of London, so it's very busy and there's lots of life going on. People are social distancing as much as they can and wearing masks. But Central London feels very strange. It feels very sad and quiet.

Have you talked to anyone else on the show about the nominations yet?

There's been a few texts going back and forth. It's really gratifying that so many of us have been nominated, because it is a big, ensemble cast.

The show managed to rack up 18 nominations in total.

Eighteen? Wow. I didn't know that. That's brilliant.

You were getting ready to shoot the third season when the pandemic hit in the states. Where do things stand now?

I don't know. We were supposed to start at the end of April. They're hoping to start in the autumn, I suppose, but I know that a lot of shows are sort of sliding to January. I think it changes week to week — or day to day, really. Restrictions are put in place and then removed, so there are things that you can do and then you can't do. So the producers have to make really difficult decisions about whether to start or not, and whether they'll be screwed up halfway down the shoot if something else happens. And then you wouldn't be able to do the show the way that you want it to be done, so it's tricky. But fingers crossed. I really miss it.

Where were you supposed to film?

We were going to be in New York. But there's no point in starting unless we can do it safely. It will be no fun if cast and crew get sick and then everybody has to stop again.

How do you think the Roy family would handle a pandemic like this one?

I feel like it would sort of be a fly in their ointment. Maybe Tom would turn into the super-spreader and infect most of Waystar. I imagine Tom and Greg both would be terrible, terrible asymptomatic super-spreaders. But I think Logan would be protected, maybe in a bunker somewhere in Geneva.

With the Emmys going virtual this year, if you had to make an appearance during the show, which room in your house would you choose to be in?

I know this sounds ungrateful but I hope I never do another Zoom again. Having to rearrange the curtains behind your head … even an Emmy ceremony on Zoom is just sort of weird to me. But I'd probably be in the same ol' place. I think I'd dress up, you know. I think I'd honor the occasion and make an effort.

What is your go-to Zoom spot?

Yeah, in the study. I share a study with my wife and we actually sit opposite each other at the desk. But I think my desk has the nicer background, so she kicks me out whenever she needs to do one.

Does it have a bookshelf in the background?

No, it doesn't have books. It has curtains and a picture and mirror. But no books. We do have books in the house.

Well, that's reassuring.

Just not in the study. Our books are in the sitting room, in a different place. So I've escaped all that sort of book rage. The book hate.

There's a lot of people showing off their books in their Zooms.

Yeah, it really seems to aggravate people. I think it's nice. Why not?

What's the best part of not having to worry about a red carpet?

It's the awful-sweaty-fearful boredom that you get from an awards ceremony. It's like half terror, half dreadful boredom. Because they go forever. And if you're up for something, you're excited but nervous. But after three hours, you just want to kill yourself. This all sounds terribly ungracious but it's the truth and anyone who tells you differently is a liar.

Most people have had a little more time to catch up on shows and films during the lockdown. What's been your favorite binge watch during this time?

My wife and I got really into old true-crime series, like The Staircase and The Jinx. We've watched a lot of documentaries, actually — more than drama or comedy or anything. We watched the McDonald's documentary, we watched the Michael Jordan one. And I've read a lot.

Any books that stand out?

I've read a beautiful one by an author named Pat Barker called The Silence of the Girls, which is just amazing. I keep thinking, "Oh God, I hope they don't finish lockdown so that I can actually read the books I wanted to read or watch the TV shows I wanted to watch." (Laughs.) We have watched some movies as well that we hadn't seen from last year, like Can You Ever Forgive Me? Things like that that I missed.

What part of set-life are you surprised that you miss the most?

Apart from craft service, I miss the people. I miss the banter and the chat and just working with people. The truth is that being an actor is about being with other people. It's a collective thing. You're telling a story and it's not a one-man show. It's really thrilling to me, so fingers crossed we can start again soon.

How do you plan to celebrate your nomination?

What am I going to do? I'm going to vacuum the house. I find that very satisfying. I heard that Stanley Tucci does a lot of hoovering as well, so I'm in good company.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.