From “Ferris Bueller” to “Succession,” Alan Ruck Is a Low-Key Pop Culture Fixture

There isn’t one redeemable character on HBO’s darkly delicious series, but the actor’s Connor Roy makes villainy look cuddly

Alan Ruck has been a pop culture fixture, on and off, for 40 years. He was Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He was the annoying tourist on Keanu Reeves’s bus in Speed. He was a storm chaser in Twister. But the role that’s garnered him the most attention is Connor Roy, Logan’s oldest—but far from brightest—son on HBO’s hit series Succession, which enters its fourth and final season this month. “Really,” Ruck tells Los Angeles, “I’ve waited 30 years for this.”

LAMag: You landed your first major role, as Ferris Bueller’s best friend, in 1986. But then, you wound up working as a stock boy at Sears afterward . . . ?

Alan Ruck: My character was 16, but I was 26. It was great to be part of a movie people love, but afterward, it felt like my 15 minutes were up. I was married, moved to L.A., bought a house. But I’d only made $40,000 for that movie. I got auditions, but I’m a weird type: a character actor, but not “character-y.” Nobody would cast me as a lawyer or a cop—I wasn’t really castable. I didn’t have any other skills, so I took a job in a Sears warehouse. I had to make my car payment.

For how long?

Luckily, only three months. I got a network sitcom, ABC TGIF, and some other things. Then I went back down again—I couldn’t seem to get a break. I was a bartender at the Marina del Rey Red Onion, but bartender was not a good job for me. I drank—a lot. You don’t come off well on auditions if you’re drinking. I came off rather desperate, which does not get you parts. So, finally, I got sober.

Then you landed another iconic movie, 1994’s Speed.

I knew filming Speed would be interesting—we had the whole 105 Freeway to ourselves. When we wrapped, we were all pretty excited. I and a few other of the actors watched a screening, and we were all very quiet afterward—we were sure it would bomb. Months later, someone told me, “Man, this thing is testing through the roof—it’s gonna be huge!”

THE SON ALSO RISES Ruck and Justine Lupe in a scene from HBO’s hit show Succession, now starting its fourth and final season. (Macall B. Polay/HBO)

Shooting Succession must spoil you — the show’s success, gorgeous locales, yachts  . . .

Well, I couldn’t take my family to Italy on season 2, so I was pretty lonely. I loved Tuscany—but I don’t drink anymore, so no wine for me. And many of those gorgeous locations are rather cold and sterile, like the Roys themselves.

Let’s talk a bit about Jeremy Strong and his intense method acting while playing Kendall. He’s taken some heat in the press over that.

We all wish Jeremy wasn’t so hard on himself—he’s a genius performer. But he believes he has to. It’s his process. It can be hard on other people. I think it was Jeremy who said, “I don’t always like everybody I love.”

Is there even one redeemable character on this show?

Not really. The Trumps and the Murdochs were the inspirations. Connor may be the nicest—he doesn’t want or need anything but the old man’s approval. Gerri seems a decent character, but she’s a snake. Shiv is beautiful, capable, strong, but icy cold. She thinks she’s so much smarter than she is. If Kendall doesn’t get to run something soon, he’s going to explode. Roman’s lost and flailing. Even of the real Murdochs and Trumps, no one seems particularly happy. Did you know there’s an eldest sibling—Prudence Murdoch—who’s not involved with the business at all? I think they based Connor on her. Connor marries this young, beautiful girl, and all he has to do is give her a good life. So he’s a little less lost.

OK, so tell me, what happens at the end of season 4?

Shush! HBO is everywhere!

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