Jessica Chastain And Aaron Sorkin Speak Out Following Profile On Succession’s Jeremy Strong

Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) on the third season of HBO's Succession
(Image credit: HBO)

Celebrity profiles are often divisive. In addition to revealing hidden details about stars’ personalities and lives, they can create controversy and a lot of online chatter. That was the case with a recent profile on Succession’s Jeremy Strong. The story in The New Yorker provided an entertaining if not somewhat troubling look at the actor’s eccentric approach to getting into character. While fans online debated over whether the profile treated Strong fairly, two of his most famous colleagues, Jessica Chastain and Aaron Sorkin, weighed in. 

Usually, Jessica Chastain uses her social media to show off her meme game or give a wink and a nod to her own viral moments. However, after Michal Schulman’s profile of Jeremy Strong hit the internet earlier this week, she was using Twitter for a much different reason -- to defend her former co-star against what she felt was an unfair portrayal: 

Ive known Jeremy Strong for 20yrs & worked with him on 2 films. Hes a lovely person. Very inspiring & passionate about his work. The profile that came out on him was incredibly one sided. Don’t believe everything you read folks. Snark sells but maybe its time we move beyond it.

Jessica Chastain returned to the platform a few days later to share a letter on the behalf of Aaron Sorkin. While the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director doesn’t use social media, he still felt compelled to speak up about the story

I think I helped Mr. Schulman create what I believe is a distorted picture of Jeremy that asks us to roll our eyes at his acting process. I’ve worked with Jeremy twice–Molly’s Game and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Mr. Schulman asked me five questions via email. Those questions, along with my answers, are below.

The filmmaker's letter is mostly a transcript of his conversation with The New Yorker writer, but also indirectly refutes some of the points made in the profile. Schulman used quotes from the Social Network scribe to illustrate a picture he painted of Jeremy Strong’s seemingly disruptive on-set behavior. That included anecdotes about the actor requesting to be sprayed with real tear gas and putting a fart machine under his Trial of the Chicago 7 co-star Frank Langella's chair. But the director's transcript offers a more nuanced picture of his insights into Strong’s approach to acting and what it is like to work with him:

Jeremy was never dressed down by anyone–we were too busy laughing.

By the end of his letter, it’s clear that his opinion of the actor is much better than some may have assumed when reading the New Yorker story. He drove this point home by saying:

Let me be clear, Jeremy would never suggest endangering a member of the cast or crew or anyone else. It was something he mentioned in passing and I was telling the story affectionately and as a way of demonstrating his commitment. Nor would Jeremy ever consider disrespecting an actor.

Michael Schulman hasn’t responded to either Jessica Chastain or Aaron Sorkin’s critiques of his profile of Jeremy Strong. But in a recent tweet, he did indirectly acknowledge the fervor his most recent piece has caused – and thanked everyone for reading. 

Katherine Webb