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Succession creator Jesse Armstrong gave an unusual acceptance speech as the HBO dramedy won the best drama prize at the Emmy Awards on Sunday.
The British writer-producer gave a series of “un-thank yous” to a number of individuals during the course of his speech, which was interrupted briefly by the ring of a telephone in the background. “Thank you very much indeed. This is such a very nice moment and it’s very sad not to be with the cast and some of the crew to share it with you all tonight, but this is a wonderful achievement for the whole group,” Armstrong said as he patched in from a hotel room.
As the telephone rang while he began his speech, Armstrong explained, “Room service, probably,” and Succession actor Kieran Culkin could be seen giggling from a separate remote video feed.
Armstrong continued, “But for being robbed of the opportunity to spend this time with our peers and with the cast and crew, I think I’d maybe like to do some un-thank yous. Un-thank you to the virus for keeping us all apart this year,” he said. “Un-thank you to Trump for his crummy and uncoordinated response, un-thank you to Boris Johnson and his government for doing the same in my country, un-thank you to all the nationalist and quasi-nationalist governments in the world that are exactly the opposite of what we need right now and un-thank you to the media moguls who do so much to keep them in power. So un-thank you.”
This was an unusually political speech for Amstrong: Though Succession bears strong parallels to media-mogul families including the Redstones and Murdochs, as well as business dynasties like the Trumps, Armstrong rarely name-checks any of these individuals in his discussions about the show.
Backstage, Armstrong said that he and his British colleagues would celebrate “hopefully by going to breakfast because it’s 4 a.m. [in the U.K.] and in case something positive happened I didn’t drink anything so I’m hoping for a champagne breakfast with this lovely group.” He added, “It’s the kind of celebration an old person would have.”
Succession was nominated 18 times in 2020, for outstanding drama series, outstanding writing for a drama series, outstanding directing for a drama series (for two separate directors), outstanding lead actor in a drama series (Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong), outstanding supporting actor in a drama series (Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Sarah Snook, Nicholas Braun), outstanding guest actor in a drama series (James Cromwell), outstanding guest actress in a drama series (Cherry Jones, Harriet Walter), outstanding casting for a drama series, outstanding music composition for a series (original dramatic score), outstanding single-camera picture editing for a drama series (for two separate editors) and outstanding production design for a narrative contemporary program (one Hour or more) nominations. The series overall won seven awards, including outstanding lead actor in a drama series for Jeremy Strong.
The 72nd primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, aired on ABC at 5 p.m. PT. Kimmel hosted from Los Angeles’ Staples Center, while honorees and presenters broadcast from remote locations.
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