I’ve reached a verdict on the best villain in Succession – and Greg Hirsch wins hands down

24 Apr 2023, 16:09
24 Apr 2023, 17:30

Greg Hirsch, HBO, Nicholas Braun, Succession

Succession is nearing its final ever episode, and the pit of ruthlessly ambitious Roys are slithering into position to get what they want – and Greg Hirsch isn’t far behind.

It’s not easy to find a likeable character within the black-hearted Roy family, but therein lies the central theme of the show. Who will succeed Logan Roy at the top of Waystar Royco, and what will they do to get there? Or, rather, what wouldn’t they do?

The truth is, each member of this media family would push each other over a steep cliff if it meant getting ahead themselves. And cuckoo-in-the-nest Greg Hirsch is the worst (and best!) of the bunch…

The fourth and final season of BAFTA-winning drama Succession continues – and Greg is battling for position (Credit: Sky)

Who the hell is Greg Hirsch in Succession anyway?

Greg Hirsch has no place in the Succession frontline, but it’s testament to his Teflon-like resilience that he’s still clinging on for a place in the family.

He arrived in season one, desperate for a seat at the Roy table. Even though he’s not a Roy. Greg, played by the brilliant Nicholas Braun, is the late Logan’s great-nephew and grandson of Ewan Roy. Cousin Greg is the family member nobody wanted at the party…

At the beginning of series 1, Greg was estranged from the rest of the family. He was working at one of the company’s theme parks. But fans will remember he was fired on his first day after getting intoxicated and vomiting inside his fancy dress costume.

Naive as hell, Greg believed he could find a place in Logan’s empire. And has somehow survived until series 4. A feat indeed, after being indentured to master manipulator Tom Wambsgans – probably the greediest git in the whole show.

Scenes between Greg and Tom easily proved to be the most entertaining, with Tom mercilessly using Greg as a giant punch-bag, both emotionally and often physically. But, despite a bumbling and awkward manner, Greg has shown himself to possess a keen instinct for survival…

Best TV relationship ever?! (Credit: Sky)

Greg’s character development in Succession series 4

Cut Greg open and you’ll find a yawning hole where his heart used to be. Over four series, the self-named ‘Disgusting Brother’ has shown himself to be a shameless opportunist who’s loyal to no one. Or, as Kendall described him: “You’re like the world’s biggest parasite.”

This man will do ANYTHING to claw his way into favour, and will switch sides depending on what’s in it for him. But in series 4, this strategy has come back to haunt him. He’s found himself on the outside, frozen out by the Roy siblings once Logan died.

Some of Greg’s actions in the final series have been jaw-dropping in their monstrosity. Desperate to align with Marcia after Logan’s death, Greg accused grieving Kerry – Logan’s girlfriend and possibly the only person truly grieving for Logan – of “waterworks”.

In comparison, Roman – who usually thrives on others’ humiliation – looked positively angelic, as he helped Kerry pick up her bag of spilt belongings, and made sure she was okay.

Why Greg Hirsch is the best villain in HBO series Succession

Of course, I haven’t forgotten that Greg brought a date to his late uncle’s birthday party and talked about her as “another tick on the chart”. That was before he unknowingly filmed a ‘sex tape’ within the walls of Logan’s house.

Greg has been bullied and abused and taken advantage of (namely by Tom). So he has more reason than most to have turned to the dark side. His new streak of cruelty is such a contrast to the Greg we loved in series 1 and 2. Which is why he’s the best villain – because he’s surprised me.

In the words of anti-hero Kendall Roy: “You little Machiavellian [bleep]. I see you, Greg.” In this world of ‘pirates’, Greg would be the first to make you walk the plank, if he thought there was a juicy fish in it for him…

But unlike the Roy kids, who have first class degrees in scheming, Greg is woefully out of his depth in the shark tank, and still provides the best comedic scenes of all.

Well, Greg if you can’t beat them, join them. In his own words: “What am I gonna do with a soul anyways? Souls are boring. Boo souls.”

Nicholas Braun as Greg in Succession (Credit: Sky)

Greg Hirsch ‘takes a turn’ in Succession

In a recent interview, actor Nicholas Braun admitted that his character Greg was about to take a turn for the worse…

Nicholas, 34, told Deadline: “Greg is tested and Greg puts himself forward as a different kind of guy at times this season and he’s more bold than we’ve ever seen him, and strategic.

“I mean, he’s always been a guy who’s tried to play whatever sides are available to him and he really leans into that this season.”

Talking about Greg’s place in series 4, Nicholas said: “Tom invited Greg into the fold. Greg didn’t even know what he was signing up for other than going to the dark side, but then he learned why he was the dark side, and I guess you could say that Greg just doesn’t care as much as he used to.

“You just sort of follow where you’re wanted. So, he’s wanted on that side. He gets to be with the big man. Everything circulates around Logan, so he gets to be close to him. He’s going to go with it.”

Of course, that all changed in episode 3 of season 4 when Logan died, leaving Greg with all his bridges burnt.

Key moments when Greg showed his evil side

Greg did not grow up in the luxury that his cousins Kendall, Shiv and Roman enjoyed as youngsters. In early scenes, Greg’s mother Marianne advised her son to side with the most powerful Roy sibling in order to get ahead. Greg sided with Shiv. And, as the series has progressed, wide-eyed Greg developed a knack for deception and blackmail…

In series 1, Tom discovered a widespread cover-up of sexual abuse on the company’s cruise lines. He subsequently confided in Greg, and asked Greg to shred the documents. However, Greg secretly made copies. Thus potentially securing a future for himself at Waystar Royco – but also proving himself to be slimier than a toad in jelly.

When Tom was promoted to Chair of Global Broadcast News at ATN, Greg revealed he’d kept copies of the incriminating documents and blackmailed him into giving him a promotion… When Tom later forced Greg to destroy the copies after the cruise scandal went public, Greg covertly withheld some of the copies.

Of course, Greg’s killer move was siding with Tom in the explosive twist at the end of series 3. Tom and Greg sided with Logan in a deal with Logan’s ex-wife that cut the kids out of any potential move. Thus ending Tom and Shiv’s marriage and any chance of Greg being in favour with the Roy siblings ever again. Loyalty? Greg wouldn’t know how to spell it!

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want Greg as my friend. Nor would I tell him my secrets. But, as a Succession villain, he’s delicious to watch! He’s definitely “more than a sprinkle”.

Read more: Succession season 3 review: Civil war has never looked so juicy as Roy family splits in two

Succession continues on Sky Atlantic/Now at 2am and 9pm on Mondays.

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