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Scott Nicholson on Playing Succession’s Only Satisfied Character

Photo: Arturo Holmes/WireImage

Logan Roy (Brian Cox) may be impossible to please, but there’s one person he trusts above all others: his security guard and fixer, Colin (Scott Nicholson). Colin has been indispensable to the Roy family since Succession’s first season, a Renaissance man whose duties have escalated from distributing NDAs to cleaning up vehicular manslaughter and, recently, removing an invisible cat hallucinated by his boss. Colin does it all with resolved and sometimes unsettling stoicism: “He’s loyal to a fault to do what Logan needs done,” Nicholson tells Vulture.

In “Chiantishire,” the penultimate episode of Succession’s third season, Logan seems at the top of his game, unfazed by troubling developments in Waystar-Royco’s leviathan acquisition of tech company GoJo as he strolls through the Tuscan gardens playing host to his ex-wife’s wedding festivities. When Kendall (Jeremy Strong) emerges from the immaculate shrubbery for a confrontation, Colin — as always — is hot on his heels, his signature Bluetooth earpiece reminding viewers of the invisible network of connections scaffolding Logan’s power. Though Colin keeps his cards close to his chest, Nicholson elaborated on his character’s key relationships within the Roy family tree and Colin’s welcome comedic turn this season.

Colin has very few lines of dialogue, so when he speaks it’s always impactful. What is Colin saying with his silences?
He’s always there; he’s always watching. I don’t want to say he’s “lurking” in the background, but he has a support group of people he can glean information from to report back to Logan at any given moment. I think Colin has to be omnipresent. He’s an interesting character because he doesn’t need to speak all the time. He carries the weight of Logan.

You share some tense scenes with Kendall. Colin holds a certain amount of power over him because he led the cleanup of the vehicular manslaughter in the season-one finale. How do you interpret Colin’s relationship with Kendall? 
That goes back. I think Colin has been around the family for a good many years, could be 20 years, and that’s why Logan trusts him so much.

My backstory for Colin is that he’s military police when he was picked up by Logan. He has seen the shenanigans Kendall and the other children have been involved in. The way Colin speaks to Kendall — he’s very wary of him. He has potentially fixed a lot of issues for the children over the years, as well as for Logan. He doesn’t want to overplay his hand and be taken down because of what Kendall or one of the siblings has done.

In the first episode of season two, there’s a very taut scene with Kendall where Colin explains the logistical details of the cleanup. What is the atmosphere shooting scenes like this? 
Very, very tense. That scene was where Colin speaks to Kendall and lets him know exactly where he stands and what he’s fixed for him. That was a bit difficult because a lot of the time, we don’t rehearse when we get the script. Jeremy is a very intense actor, more of an emotional, Method-style actor, and he wants to do things more organically to see how they play out.

The encounter is strongly echoed early in season three, when Kendall returns to the office. Colin gets very close to his face and says, “I know you.” It visibly rattles Kendall. Did you think a lot about how you wanted to deliver that line or was it intuitive? 
That was originally written slightly different. When I got to set, Jesse said, “Maybe say nothing because your presence is so strong.” We worked it a couple of times, and when I said that, it was the last take. It was like “Hey, why don’t you lean into him and say that line?” Jeremy wasn’t prepared for that. Colin is thinking about how he can direct Kendall without being too powerful. That’s why I went with the whisper, and I made that decision at the last second.

This season, you’ve had some standout comedic moments, particularly in “The Retired Janitors of Idaho,” when you bag and get rid of the “invisible cat” aggravating Logan. How did you react to reading that moment for Colin? 
I love that episode. That might be my favorite episode, because Colin is always on the periphery; you might not see him, but he’s in the area. This time, it was a little out of context that he was able to be so close and more comedic, a little farcical. There was a lot of improv, and I’m not sure all of it was seen through the editing, but it was great to do.

When that came about I thought, This might be a little out of character for Colin, but when I look back at it, it is his character, because he’s willing to do anything to protect Logan and to help him. If Logan tells him there’s an imaginary cat and he wants him to put it into a bag, that’s what he’s going to do, and he’s going to do it to the best of his ability.

You have so many intimate moments with Logan in that episode. How has that relationship developed?
Over time, it’s the trust I have with Brian. He and I worked from the pilot. From the moment I met him, he was a gentleman: always very kind to me, almost like a father figure. As far as Colin is concerned, I think he has a respect for Logan. They’re both self-made men in a way. Colin feels accomplished; he likes his job, and he’s loyal to Logan. Episode to episode, even if it’s a look that Logan gives Colin, there is that mutual respect.

Working with Brian, Colin working with Logan — I think it’s a very similar dynamic. In the beginning of that episode, Colin is pulling a boot onto Logan’s leg. Originally, it was written that [Logan] had a line where he was berating [Colin] for putting it on too hard. Brian came to me and said, “I don’t think I would talk to Colin that way.” We both agreed that Colin and Logan have an understanding, or that he respects Colin because he’s fixed a lot for him. He also knows Colin could be a thorn in his side if he wanted, but Colin’s too loyal to Logan.

Have you imagined what his life outside of working for Logan is? 
I have thought about that. I think he’s so loyal that he lives through his work. I’ve not necessarily spoken to Jesse about this, but I feel he’s really married to the job. He’s in the residence, on corporate retreats, as well as in the office: He’s there for the family. Of course, he has a life, but he’s more dedicated to the job at all times.

That strikes me as quite sad or lonely for Colin.
I personally feel that it’s sad, but I don’t think he sees it that way. The show is in many ways about power and getting ahead. I think Colin is somewhat ambitious, but he wants to be there to provide the service, not so much to get ahead with his position.

What are your hopes for Colin’s future? 
I think he would want to maintain his position at Waystar Royco and help in any way he can. If he moved up in any way in the company, that would be great, but I don’t think he has any aspirations to move up because he’s in a very powerful position himself. I think he’s very content!

He might be the only one, so that seems like a win itself! 
He’s in the know and part of the inner workings, so I guess that would be my hope: that Colin stays an integral part of Waystar Royco, or wherever that goes.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Scott Nicholson Plays Succession’s Only Satisfied Character