Alan Ruck is clear-eyed enough to know his Connor Roy has a ‘delusional disorder’

Alan Ruck
“He’s not dumb,” Alan Ruck says of his Connor Roy character on “Succession.” “But he’s marching to a beat that nobody else can hear but him.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Among the cast of pampered ne’er-do-wells who populate HBO’s “Succession,” Connor Roy is something of an outlier. The slightly buffoonish libertine and eldest son of billionaire magnate Logan Roy, Connor has sidestepped the battle for power that animates his three younger half-siblings.

Now, in the show’s fourth and final season, Connor, a fringe presidential candidate who has turned a transactional relationship with a former escort into a new marriage, has seemingly achieved an emotional equilibrium: “The good thing about having a family that doesn’t love you is that you learn to live without it,” he tells the younger Roys.


For Alan Ruck, a journeyman character actor perhaps best known for playing the sidekick high schooler Cameron in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the role of Connor was a godsend. “This audition just fell out of the sky and into my lap,” he says, speaking via Zoom from his home in Los Angeles.

“The little breakdown they sent to my manager said, ‘Series Regular: This role will grow over time.’ But it wasn’t until the end of the first season that I thought, ‘Oh, this is getting big.’”

Over the course of four seasons, Ruck has developed a nuanced read on his tragicomic character. “He’s not dumb,” Ruck says, “but he’s marching to a beat that nobody else can hear but him.”

“In the audition I had to say, ‘Pop, there’s this job that I want. It’s called president of the United States.’ And I said, ‘Oh, he’s putting the old man on, right?’ And [executive producer] Adam McKay responded: ‘No, he’s deadly serious.’ So I know right away that this was a guy that suffers from delusional disorder. He’s in his 50s and has never worked a day in his life. How did he wind up here?”

Spouses standing side by side.
Justine Lupe as Willa and Alan Ruck as Connor in the series finale of “Succession.”
(Macall B. Polay / HBO)


Ruck says that he took a few biographical details and created a complete backstory for the character, but he saw no need to share that story with his castmates.

“We don’t share too much of that stuff with each other,” he says. “It’s private knowledge. You find whatever it is that gets you into that zone, and it’s not really applicable to other people. It’s weirdly personal.”

The plot of Season 4 is so packed with intrigue that Connor’s presidential campaign is left on the periphery. All viewers learn is that the “Con-heads” make up about 1% of the electorate. So who are they?

“There’s a lot of lost souls in this world,” Ruck says, “a lot of people that just want somebody to tell them what to do because they’re scared. Connor has some kind of weird message. He’s trying to be a man of the people, and there’s some people out there just twisted enough to be like, ‘Yeah, I feel exactly like that.’”

When Connor contrasts himself with his siblings, he refers to them as “needy love sponges.” But if Connor can live without love, then why is he running for president?


“Some attention is better than no attention,” Ruck says. “That’s what drives all the kids. Running for president was solely about doing something that would impress his father.”

The Waystar Royco chief, who died in Season 4, Episode 3 of ‘Succession,’ leaves a legacy of hardball business tactics and cable news provocation.

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Nobody would call Connor savvier than his siblings, but Ruck sees his character’s disinterest in family politics as a form of wisdom.

“Connor is smart enough to see that if the [other Roy siblings] had just joined forces earlier on, all of this could have been avoided,” he says. “The three of them could have run this thing together, absolutely. But they needed each other, and there’s too much ego for them to admit that one might need the other.

“Look, they were never going to outsmart our father, or get him to break down and say, ‘I love you.’ He’s just too experienced, too smart, and doesn’t let his emotions into it at all. Connor’s lived that much longer than them, and he’s been burned enough times to know that you’re not going to get anything out of the old man, even though he keeps trying.”


Alan Ruck
Alan Ruck.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The Season 4 episode titled “Connor’s Wedding” will be best remembered for a major death that completely overshadows the titular event, but surprisingly, the wedding itself goes off without a hitch. There’s an odd sweetness to Connor’s relationship with new bride Willa (Justine Lupe), who freely admits his wealth is part of what draws her to him, and yet they are somehow the only couple on “Succession” that seems destined for longevity.

Ruck credits Lupe’s performance, and asks: “Without her, what does Connor have? It started out in a weird way, but he’s crazy about her. She’s, like, sent from God. And I think he would be beyond repair if she should ever walk away.”

He hasn’t begun processing the end of “Succession,” in part because the world hasn’t yet seen the series’ conclusion. But he has already seen its impact on his future prospects.

“Now I’m actually getting offered some bastards, some nasty people,” Ruck says. “It’s really great, because earlier in my career, I was always the goofy best friend or the sad-sack farmer. Getting to play some edgier people is really fun.”