'Succession' Fave Nicholas Braun on Greg vs Tom at the Emmys and Hopes for Season 3 (Exclusive)

nicholas braun
Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The breakout star of the HBO series talks about being nominated, working with Matthew Macfadyen and his pandemic-inspired song.

If there’s one breakout star of Succession, HBO’s Emmy-winning searing family drama, it’s Nicholas Braun. The actor plays Greg Hirsch, an extended relative of the Roy family who comes to work at media conglomerate Waystar and is trying to carve out his own place within the ranks of ruthless patriarch Logan’s (Brian Cox) children, Connor (Alan Ruck), Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), her husband, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), and Roman (Kieran Culkin).  

Last week, Braun earned his first Emmy nomination for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series alongside his co-stars, Culkin and Macfadyen, while the series earned 18 total. “It's definitely a dream to be nominated for something like that,” the actor tells ET. “Then the fact that I get to be nominated with my boys is awesome.”

And perhaps the most important “boy” of that group is Macfadyen, whom Braun shares most of his screen time as Tom’s underling at Waystar. “Tom is not a good role model but he shows Greg, you gotta be a little sneaky and you gotta have a little scheme. So, I think Greg is learning some bad behavior from Tom,” Braun says of the dynamic between the two characters. 

Because they work so closely together, Braun says there’s a “very trusting relationship” between the two and that sometimes it can be hard to get through a take without breaking into laughter. “Basically every scene they write for us is so funny and he just kills me,” the actor reveals. “When he’s wounded as Tom, like going through something that really upsets him, it just cracks me up.” 

Braun highlights the episode “Safe Room,” when Greg and Tom end up in the “wrong” panic rooms during a shooting, as one of funniest days on set. “There were just so many good moments because he’s fully in a frenzy and the fact that he's in the sh*ttier of the panic rooms. It was just amazing for me,” the actor says. 

In fact, when speaking to ET earlier this summer, Macfadyen pointed to the same moment as one of the hardest to get through without laughing fits. “I sort of tell myself off in my head, ‘Don't laugh again,’” Macfadyen said. “It's terrible. Me and Nick have a real problem.”

Braun adds, “Matthew’s the best. He always brings really fun ideas to the scenes and I bring my own ideas and we just kind of mash it up and see what comes out of it.”

Matthew Macfayden as Tom and Nicholas Braun as Greg. Zach Dilgard/HBO

And the fact that both actors are nominated in the same category is not lost on Braun, who jokes about how Tom would react to being nominated alongside Greg. “He would probably celebrate Greg and then do everything in his power to not let Greg win the award. He would definitely buy him the most expensive bottle of champagne and cheers me, and then try to take it away,” the actor muses.  

While Braun has not read any scripts for season 3, he has hopes for what Greg gets to do next. “The more Greg hangs in somehow, the more responsibility he gets and the stakes grow. And so I'd like to see what it feels like if Greg has more power,” the actor says. “I think he's doing all the things to sort of get himself that but we'll see.”

He’s also interested in exploring the relationship between Greg and his grandfather, Ewan (fellow nominee James Cromwell), Logan’s estranged older brother and financial titan. “He's good because he shows how far Greg has gone off the rails. He’s the moral center for Greg,” Braun says. 

While fans have to wait for season 3 -- filming of the series has yet to be announced amid the coronavirus pandemic -- they can listen to Braun’s new socially conscious song, “Antibodies (Do You Have The),” which was inspired by COVID-19 and will support Partners In Health and The COPE Program. 

“We're in a crazy time in the world and people are really catching this virus and people are dying,” Braun says. “My dad had COVID in March and he was really wrecked by it. And so, I know that this is a very hard time. But I thought if I can bring some levity and some fun and also tell people to put a mask on, I felt like, ‘Let's put this out and it'll be to help out.’”