There’s a new Jeremy Strong profile in GQ written by Gabriella Paiella and like all great profiles it’s layered: there’s the subject, the journalist’s perception of the subject, the subject’s awareness and sensitivity to the how they will be perceived by the journalist (who is a proxy for the audience) and the unspoken question, especially for Jeremy, on whether or not they will be burned.
The really great profile writers like Gabriella Paiella are curious and clear-eyed; it’s not a fluff piece, but it’s also not snark. Yes she notes he wears two hats (a beanie over a bucket hat, how would that even work?) and he’s chatty and tries to be self-effacing and self-aware.
But this isn’t like the New Yorker profile, although Jeremy does touch on that and mentions that the writer also went to Yale, which brought up a lot of feelings for him. When the profile dropped and his colleagues were rushing to his defence, I wrote: The only person who I think comes off looking bad is the snitch who worried about the Yale drama department budget. Imagine being concerned that Yale will run out of money.
Sorry to quote myself, but I stand by this. Jeremy was an outsider at Yale and then a kind of “late bloomer” amongst his peers (he had years of professional leanness). Brian Cox has implied that Jeremy sought out the New Yorker profile, so you get the sense that Jeremy wanted to make it go a certain way. Yale was not a given for him but it was formative, “My mother always felt like going to Yale ruined me. In the sense that she saw me become very turned inward and more depressive, or less free….” The New Yorker was a profile of a person who tries really f-cking hard and that’s why the narrative came off a little sneering. Jeremy (like his friends Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michelle Williams) is not a nepo baby. He wasn’t a Yale legacy.
In this GQ profile, he seems more relaxed and playful. He “baaas” at a sheep. He talks about his “monastic chic” wardrobe. He talks about fatherhood. Is this by design? Or is it authentic? With Jeremy, we can’t know because he is always committed to the moment. He knows he’s esoteric and artistically exhausting with his many quotes, telling the reporter, “I had an old girlfriend who used to call me Kierkegaard.” (Did you know he dated Lily Rabe? That’s not in the profile but there are some old event photos of them floating around.)
Nicholas Braun is the only Succession cast member who commented in the story, which makes sense as the two seem to be friends outside of work. Jeremy also comments on Brian Cox’s thoughts about his process, explains that he respects his coworkers and doesn’t hinder anyone else’s process. And when asked directly about Brian Cox’s comments, he is direct but professional:
“I saw that Brian Cox also said, in a follow-up interview, that “there is a certain amount of pain at the root of Jeremy, and I just feel for that pain.”
You know, I don’t think so. I don’t think there is. There’s certainly a lot of pain in Kendall, and I haven’t really met Brian outside of the confines of that.”
Basically, he is saying Brian doesn’t know him or his life. And with that life is three small children, all of whom were born while he was working on Succession. (At one point, he says he relates to Kendall because he works a lot which is really interesting.) This is much more intimate than what he gave up for the New Yorker, but why? He makes several comments about the end of Succession, preparing himself and setting up his next career phase. Moving on from a show like this isn’t just about getting more roles (which he will) but it’s also about the audience being able to separate Jeremy Strong from Kendall Roy. This is the first profile on him that I’ve read that really separates the character from the person.