Watching Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) fumble through his testimony before Congress is one of the great moments from the second season of HBO’s “Succession.” It was also a personal favorite of Braun’s, who says shooting the courtroom scene was his “favorite day of the season.”
The scene was sprung upon Braun just like the hearing was sprung upon his character.
“When [creator Jesse Armstrong] showed me that scene, I was laughing,” Braun told TheWrap. “He showed it to me the night before; it was sort of a surprise thing. We were gonna shoot it a few weeks later but [Jesse] was like, ‘We could shoot it tomorrow — could you get off book?’ It was like five pages of stuff.”
Braun saw the quick turnaround as an opportunity.
“There’s something kind of amazing about the challenge here, to be able to go tomorrow and be as prepared as I can be, but it’s the same situation that Greg is being put in,” Braun recalled. “He is all of a sudden being surprised with a hearing. I have to take this acting opportunity to let life imitate art and be as prepared as I can be, but also just to go be in that experience and whatever happens while we’re filming that to just let it happen.”
The result was Braun’s character using formal language he thought necessary for court, but ending up sounding ridiculous. Here’s the exact exchange between Greg and Senator Eavis. (You can also watch the cringe-worthy scene via the video above.)
Senator Eavis: Gregory Hirsch, executive assistant to Tom Wamsgans, correct?
Greg: Yes. Yes, if it is to be said.
Eavis: I’m sorry?
Greg: Uh, if it is to be said, so it be, so it is.
Eavis: Are you all right?
Greg: Uh, yes. Uh, I merely wish to answer in the affirmative fashion.
Eavis: You can speak to us normally.
Greg: Oh, no — thank you, sir. Uh, uh, so I shall.
The exchange was humiliating, but at least Greg looked great while doing it. That’s because the script called for Greg to get a haircut to both look more professional in front of Congress and because the character “just wanted someone to touch his head.” And that actually matched Braun’s hopes for his real-life hair.
“I wanted to have a lot of hair [for] Season 1. It just felt like I should be overgrown and unmaintained, shaggy,” he said. “The hair just got annoying, for one. Having that much hair is an annoyance.”
The 6-foot-5 actor — who purposely slumps for the role — was also able to rise up physically thanks to his arc this year.
“It felt like, Season 2, maybe he’s starting to stand a little taller — especially towards the end,” he said. “After you sit in front of Congress, it feels like you can stand a little bit taller.”
Greg’s not the only tall guy on the show, as his boss (kinda?) and cousin-in-law Toms Wamgans is played by the 6-foot-3 Matthew Macfadyen. But their stature doesn’t seem to help them in their attempts to gain respect from the Roys.
“I think it’s so interesting that the guys with the least power in this world are the tallest guys of the show,” Braun said. “We’re definitely sort of like looming around — and me more than him — but we usually have zero influence in a room.”
Braun says slouching “helps [him] feel that energy [to] take on the intimidation that I think Greg feels towards the family.” “It just kind of feels right,” he added.
And the anxiety and fear you see in Greg isn’t just part of the character Braun plays, but a bit of himself thrown in.
“I think people like to see me as Greg, but the truth is there’s a lot of parts about myself that I put into Greg. All that stuff about being uncomfortable and being anxious or fighting your own ambitions with fear — but feeling like maybe you’re smarter than maybe you’re showing or having a cunning side that you’re sort of afraid to let out,” he said. “All that stuff about Greg is stuff that’s inside of me, so it’s a great outlet for those things, and to in a way give myself the worst-case scenario of all those feelings that I’ve felt in my life.”