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The Making of Tom Wambsgans

Before the final season of ‘Succession,’ Matthew Macfadyen and others explain the creation and expansion of the show’s most unlikely power player

HBO/Ringer illustration

In light of Sunday’s Succession finale, we’re resurfacing this article from March looking at Tom Wambsgans and actor Matthew Macfadyen.

Matthew Macfadyen was walking in New York City this past winter when a stranger recognized him and yelled, “Hey!” At first, the actor thought something was seriously wrong. Then, the man pointed at him and started maniacally laughing.

Telling this story during a video call this month, Macfadyen wags his finger and breaks into an impression that sounds like the Joker. HA HA! HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA! “That was it,” he says. “Just a man laughing. … Like, what are you fucking laughing at?”

Five years ago, Macfadyen might’ve confronted the guy. But after playing Tom Wambsgans since Succession premiered in 2018, he understands the reaction. Tom is a desperate outsider, a petty bully, a subservient husband, and a voluntary scapegoat. “That’s Tom,” Macfadyen says; he’s the kind of guy who’s easy to laugh at … and to underestimate. He’s married to mogul Logan Roy’s only daughter, Siobhan, and works for the family’s media conglomerate, but his in-laws don’t respect him. In fact, they barely think about him at all. So, like a tortured comedian, he overcompensates with barbed humor.

Tom is the HBO drama’s most surprising source of comic relief: an insecure one-liner factory from the Upper Midwest brought to life by a Brit whose breakout role was as a famously aloof heartthrob in the 2005 movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

“Who knew that Mr. Darcy was fucking hilarious?” says Mark Mylod, who has directed a dozen episodes of Succession, with more to come this spring. “[It’s] the most genius piece of casting that I can think of in recent history. He’s so incredibly unexpected.”

As the drama’s fourth and final season begins, Tom has transformed himself from a puffy-vest-wearing patsy into a power player. At the end of Season 1, his wife was pushing him into an open marriage on his wedding night, but at the end of Season 3, he’s the one ruthlessly playing both sides and shivving her—a shocking twist that wouldn’t feel believable without Macfadyen’s chameleonic performance. “He has a wonderful way, as an actor, of keeping secrets,” Mylod says. “The genius thing about what he holds back is it’s there, and you are reaching for it behind his eyes, so you can’t take your eyes off him because of that. That’s what always pulled me to the character. There’s this clown on the outside, but what are you hiding?”

Surviving the world of his billionaire in-laws, who vacillate between seeing him as a joke and not seeing him at all, takes calculated scheming. The only way that he can worm himself into the Roy family business is to adapt. Constantly. “He’s such a shape-shifter, Tom,” Macfadyen says. “He’s so different with everybody. His status goes up and down depending on who he’s with. For an actor, that’s just a joy.”

Tom may be an unabashed social climber who sells out his own wife to curry favor with her domineering father, but of all the characters on Succession, he’s still the easiest to identify with. After all, he lets us imagine what it would be like to marry into a bloodthirsty dynasty. How would you avoid being eaten alive?

“What we love about Tom is it’s like seeing the toddler walk through the wolf enclosure at the Bronx Zoo,” executive producer Adam McKay says. “Animals, you never know. They read body language, smell, and for some reason, the wolves aren’t going for the toddler. In this world that we live in, there’s a lot of times where we’re like that toddler.”

Succession has some of the most meticulously fleshed-out characters on television, but creator Jesse Armstrong didn’t give Macfadyen a single note on how to play Tom. “Probably because Jesse didn’t know,” Macfadyen says. “People always imagine that you know more than you know. I wouldn’t speak for Jesse, but he will write something and then see what we do with it, and then it’ll feed back into the writers and then us. It’s sort of a lovely circle of stuff.”

According to McKay, Macfadyen was actually a late addition to the series. The producers couldn’t find the right person to play Tom, until casting director Francine Maisler tabbed him. “We had read some people, but it wasn’t that same feeling we had with the other characters,” says McKay. “Francine was just like, ‘I’ve got your Tom. It’s Matthew Macfadyen. He’ll be great.’ It was done quickly. We were getting close to shooting. We knew Macfadyen was a really good actor, but that was the one role we flew blind on.”

Macfadyen remembers submitting a self-taped audition, mainly to show that he could sound like a Minnesotan. After getting the part, he worked with dialect coach Carter Bellaimey to hone his accent. On set, he says, “I’m surrounded by Americans, so it’s in my head. And I just hoped for the best. I don’t think it was always successful, but I kept waiting to be taken to an accent school. It didn’t happen, so I kind of got away with it.”

It’s ironic that the Roys see Tom, a Cornell University graduate whose mother is a prominent Twin Cities attorney, as blue collar. “His parents weren’t miners,” Macfadyen says. “He had a very nice upbringing. He’s just not going to that boarding school in Gstaad.”

On Succession, that’s an important distinction. Tom may have grown up with money, but he’s still not even close to being in the same class as the grotesquely wealthy Roys. The chasm between them is impossibly wide. “He certainly is the underdog in terms of thinking that he can play in that cage with a species that is so beyond his understanding,” Mylod says. “Of course, he isn’t this bumpkin, but I think he does have a relative innocence to him—‘relative’ being obviously an important part of that sentence.”

When we first meet Tom, he’s standing outside a luxury jewelry store in New York, earnestly strategizing with his future wife about an 80th-birthday gift for her father, Logan. When she tells him that her dad “doesn’t really like things,” he blows right through her warning. “It needs to say,” he replies, “‘I respect you, but I’m not awed by you. And that I like you—but I need you to like me before I can love you.’”

That kind of moment—wild, tormented, funny—has become Tom’s signature. When asked, Macfadyen can’t think of other acting performances that helped him develop the character’s frenzied aura, but when he ponders playing Tom, Steve Martin sometimes comes to mind. “There’s a Steve Martin thing he does in various films, and he’s just sort of improvising wildly to try to get what he wants,” Macfadyen says. “He’s such a brilliant actor. There’s a sort of terrible panic about not getting what he wants and trying to do the right thing and pleasing.”

Early in the pilot, Tom tries to hand his still-unrevealed gift to Brian Cox’s Logan, who ignores the gesture. The far-too-eager-to-please future son-in-law finally gets his chance at the family’s annual celebratory softball game. Along with a five-figure Patek Philippe watch, Tom delivers a joke to Logan: “It’s incredibly accurate. Every time you look at it, it tells you exactly how rich you are.” Unimpressed, Logan says, “That’s very funny. Did you rehearse that?” Macfadyen improvised Tom’s response, first letting out a painfully awkward laugh, then saying, “No. Well, no. Yes, but …” Then Tom stops himself, forces a toothless smile, and shakes his head.

“That reaction he had to Logan Roy is an incredibly difficult thing to pull off because you’re going to say, ‘No,’ and then you’re going to betray yourself because you’re so intimidated you tell him you actually practiced it,” says McKay, who directed the episode. “People do that in real life. But traditionally, when you see a moment like that, it’s played for high comedy. Macfadyen’s a master. It’s a comedic moment, but still, it felt real.”

While watching Macfadyen in that scene, McKay recalls, Armstrong leaned over to him and said, “Well, I’m going to have to expand this character.”

Like almost everyone who matters on Succession, Tom is always trying to get on Logan’s good side. But the character isn’t defined by how he sucks up to his father-in-law. The best way to learn about him is through the people he’s closest with: his wife, Shiv, and his cousin-in-law Greg Hirsch.

The two relationships, which are both wildly unhealthy, hinge on power imbalances. Tom reveres Shiv, who in return treats him, as McKay puts it, as “something to decorate her life.” Tom, meanwhile, lords over young Greg, the only member of the family whose status is even lower than his own. It’s a dynamic built on trickle-down abuse. “He just takes a lot of shit from everybody and happily takes it,” Macfadyen says. “And then he doles it out to other people.”

Naturally, Logan has the most cynical take on why Shiv is with Tom. “You’re marrying a man fathoms beneath you,” he tells his daughter toward the end of Season 1, “because you don’t want to risk being betrayed.” Macfadyen’s reading of the arrangement is slightly more charitable. “They met when Shiv was in a very bad place maybe, and Tom turned up, and Tom is nothing if not pretty solid and staunch,” he says. “He’s a loyal and safe pair of hands. He’s a good, decent guy. She found a lot of solace and comfort and stability in Tom.”

Macfadyen remembers the first scene that he and Sarah Snook, who plays Shiv, shot together. They had instant on-screen chemistry, even if neither of them knew what the future held. “It was a really cold, bright, stunning New York day filming on Madison Avenue,” Macfadyen says. “Both of us were like, ‘This is a big deal. This is good fun. Whatever happens, we’ve done this. Even if this never goes beyond the pilot.’”

By the second episode of the series, it becomes apparent that their characters don’t have an equal partnership. While visiting Logan in the hospital after he suffers a stroke, Tom gets down on one knee and asks Shiv to marry him. Annoyed by his inappropriate timing, she scolds him, and when Tom explains that he just wanted to make things feel better, she cuts the tension with this: “You can’t balance it out like that. I’m not gonna give you a blow job when your dog dies.” Thanks to Tom’s hangdog look, though, Shiv eventually takes pity on him and apologizes. Then, she answers his proposal like an uninterested teenager. “So you know,” she says, “yeah, whatever.” But in that moment, Tom could not look more genuinely happy—or pathetic. It’s not the last time Shiv brings out both in him.

“That’s always the genius of the character that Matthew and Jesse have evolved and created there,” says Mylod, who directed that episode. “Everything is always so contradictory. It is never one thing. On the one hand, it’s a social climber desperate to start his escalation. On the other hand, it’s just a young man in love and desperate to seal that, to Band-Aid his own insecurities, to actually have something tangible in his life.”

The closest thing Tom has to a loyal and safe pair of hands isn’t Shiv, though. His only real (but not always loyal) ally is Cousin Greg. Tom rewards his green mentee’s allegiance by relentlessly picking on him, but like two brothers, they have … an understanding. “They need each other,” says Nicholas Braun, who plays Greg. “They’re a safe-ish space for each other. As safe as you can get in this family.”

Despite Braun’s 6-foot-7, NBA-small-forward-like frame, Tom looms over Greg. “The best comedic characters are the ones who were born on third base and think they hit a triple, or where the forces above them are so much more powerful than them, but they still think they have some control,” McKay says. “The only person that Tom has some control over—honestly, even less control than he thinks—is Cousin Greg.” But the relationship goes even deeper than that: Braun won’t go so far as to use the l-word when talking about Tom and Greg, but he says, “It’s definitely real dependency.”

Macfadyen knew that he’d enjoy working with Braun from the moment in the pilot when Logan mistakenly introduces Cousin Greg as Cousin Craig. “He says, ‘I’ll answer to both,’” Macfadyen says. “He was sort of improvising as well, and he was just heaven. I thought, ‘Oh, here we go.’”

Tom and Greg’s friendship is so hilariously warped that while filming together, Macfadyen and Braun had a hard time staying in character. “We don’t get through a scene without laughing,” Braun says. “Anytime he or I has to whisper to each other or our bodies get closer, it’s always just very funny to me.”

That exact problem arose while Mylod was directing an upcoming episode. “There was a moment where the characters were very close together and had to make eye contact,” he says. “As soon as I read it on the page, I thought, ‘We’re in such trouble.’ Sure enough, it was bedlam because every time they needed to make eye contact when they’re that close to each other, it was just impossibly so damn funny.”

Tom spends much of Succession trying to look the part of a hyper-rich man. But the clothes don’t always fit—often in a literal sense. Roman, Logan’s youngest son, teases him about his boxy suits (“You look like a Transformer”) and his puffy Moncler vest (“What’s it stuffed with, your hopes and dreams?”). He’s constantly trying too hard, and it’s that mere effort that makes him stick out. “What we tried to do was give him subtle detailing that would enhance that desire to show himself as something important in the room—like the pocket squares, the suspenders,” costume designer Michelle Matland told The Ringer’s Andrew Gruttadaro in 2019. “His shoes are highly polished, whereas Roman would never look down. For Tom, there’s a lot of posturing going on.”

But Tom’s posturing goes beyond his wardrobe choices, like when he takes Greg to dinner at a nauseatingly upscale restaurant, Macfadyen says, “to show him how to be rich.” After indulging in the illegal delicacy of ortolan under the veils of their napkins—“Some say it’s to mask the shame, others to heighten the pleasure”—Tom makes sure to remind Greg that they come from similar backgrounds. “He’s built this narrative of the young guy from out of town making his way in the cutthroat world,” Macfadyen says. “We’re the same. We’re two out-of-towners. He described them both as ‘nudie turtles.’”

Even when Waystar Royco promotes him to the company’s parks and cruises division in the first season, Tom remains understandably insecure. After learning that his new job will require him to cover up sexual abuse, he’s so rattled that he considers holding a press conference about the allegations. When he suspects that Greg, who he confided in, has leaked his intention to go public, he pulls him aside at a black-tie gala and calls him “a lump of fucking turducken,” accuses him of squealing, and gets in his face.

The script, Braun remembers, called for Greg to shove Tom. But that didn’t feel true to their relationship. “We did a shove, and Jesse came in, and he was like, ‘You know what? I think it’s literally a tap or something. Like the smallest shove you can give,’” Braun says. “And that made it really funny. So that the physical thing is literally the smallest possible aggressive move by Greg. So that Tom can go, ‘Did you just touch me, Greg?’”

When he gets anxious or uncomfortable, which happens a lot, Tom tends to project his energy onto Greg. And while it may be unfairly cruel behavior, it’s a gift to the audience. Consider Tom’s bachelor party at an underground club. “That’s one of my favorite scenes in the show,” Macfadyen says. “He is desperately trying for it to be cool and sexy, and he would just rather be at home with Shiv and ordering takeaway.”

At Roman’s urging, Tom has sex with a woman and reports back to Greg about how it, well, finished. “That terrible swallowing of his own load,” Macfadyen says. “Nick’s reactions are so fucking priceless. He’s at the bar, and I come up and say, ‘It was so hot.’ … He looks physically disgusted. That’s Greg.”

Tom’s marriage, at least in the Succession universe, is a coup. He gets to make things official with Shiv and officially join one of America’s most powerful families. But he learns that neither of those things guarantees his emotional or professional safety. The costs of entering the Roys’ orbits outweigh the benefits. “The world that Tom is in is so noxious and twisted,” McKay says. “I mean, it makes No Exit look like a gender reveal party.”

On the night of their wedding, in a suite deep inside a castle near the England-Wales border, Shiv admits to Tom that she’s had an affair. It’s also when she tells him that she’s not built for a monogamous marriage. In truth, Tom already knew she was cheating—Greg warned him. But her confession forces him to fully process the bombshell, and in one scene, you can see Macfadyen reach the point of tears, contemplate the future he has signed up for, and work out exactly how to adjust to his twisted new normal. He speaks slowly and quietly. “I kinda wish, I guess maybe,” Tom says, “we’d talked about this before our wedding night.”

“It was just a pleasure to play because you don’t often get the scene where somebody’s saying, ‘You’re asking for an open marriage on the night of our wedding?’” Macfadyen says. “There’s not much acting required. The scene is so charged. The less you do, the better.”

Tom’s initial bout of grief lasts only minutes, and not only because Shiv is able to manipulate him into acquiescing—he also makes a real-time calculation that accepting her request is what’s best for him. “On one hand, the emasculation was oddly empowering,” says Mylod, who directed the Season 1 finale. “I still don’t understand that in any rational sense. But emotionally, it completely makes sense.”

Then, after Shiv and Tom consummate their marriage, he rushes down to the still-raging party to kick out Nate, the political operative and old flame whom Shiv has been sleeping with. “The superficial expression of power [is] enough for him,” Mylod says. “Of course, it’s going to creep up and haunt him and pollute every action going forward, but in that moment, he understands the nature of the contract. That’s what makes him a good businessman.”

Tom warns Nate that if he ever sees him in the same room as Shiv again, he’s going to pay men to break his legs. Then, he explains to Nate that his parents “made a contribution” to the wine and forces him to pour his glass of red back into the bottle. “Put my fucking wine back,” he barks in a (soft) power move. “Put it the fuck back.” Then, he nods at Greg from across the room and starts bobbing his head to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” a choice that was all Macfadyen. “It wasn’t scripted and made me pee my pants on the day, yes,” Mylod says. “We have a long tradition of pretty much never saying ‘cut’ till the camera rolls out, really. If there is something in mind and I feel that the actor is still in the moment, then I’m damned if I’m going to call ‘cut.’ He was still in the moment, and out of that came that little bop, which was so fricking funny.”

The good vibes don’t last long. On the surface, Tom is empowered by his marriage and his new position at Waystar’s cable news network, ATN, but he’s still the family patsy. And midway through Season 2, Cousin Greg is so sick of his mentor’s bullshit that he asks for “a business open relationship.” Those two words are a bit of a trigger for old Tom, and they lead to a meltdown far worse than the one he had on his wedding night. “The scene where he pelts him with water bottles comes from a really sad place because Greg has actually tried to break up with him,” Macfadyen says. “Human life is absurd, and we do absurd things.”

Life gets more absurd when Congress calls Tom to testify about helping cover up Waystar’s cruise-line scandal. It’s here we learn that 67 times in one evening, Tom sent his underling the same email with the same title: “You can’t make a Tomlette without breaking some Gregs.” The pun instantly became iconic—like many of Tom’s lines. “One of my favorites is when I say to Greg, ‘I’m not some beast,’” Macfadyen says, snapping into his character’s accent. “I don’t know why I like that. I just really like it.”

After the disastrous hearing, Tom realizes that he needs to stick up for himself. In Season 2’s yacht-in-the–Adriatic Sea set closer, Tom and Shiv have a picnic lunch on a private beach, during which he finally tells his wife the truth: He hasn’t gotten over her asking for an open marriage on their wedding night. “He is so extraordinarily hijacked, bushwhacked by Shiv on his wedding night that I just couldn’t help but feel for him,” says Mylod. “Because whatever contract he’d made, he is a conservative—with a small ‘c’—Midwesterner. Yes, he’s a social climber, and yes, he’s a terrible snob and a big-star fucker beyond anything, but I think he genuinely loves Shiv and is genuinely heartbroken to the point it almost defines him.”

There’s no reality in which Tom keeps those feelings buried forever. “He’s going to fight back,” Mylod says. “That thing that’s gnawing on him from their wedding night, that was the perfect opportunity to express it. Again, that essential conservatism. Of course, the wounded lover had to come out at some point.”

Tom is no innocent victim. After all, he agreed to Shiv’s indecent proposal partially because it would benefit his career. But when he delivers one of the show’s most devastating lines—“I just wonder if the sad I’d be without you would be less than the sad I get from being with you”—it’s hard not to sympathize with him.

For most of Season 3 of Succession, Tom walks around in a worried daze. With Logan’s second-oldest son, Kendall, going rogue, Wambsgans knows that Logan needs someone to take the fall for the cruise scandal. Without options, and with Shiv’s blessing, he decides to tell his father-in-law that he’s willing to be the fall guy.

It’s a potentially catastrophic move, but it’s also a useful trial balloon. Shiv doesn’t seem bothered at all by his suggested martyrdom. He intentionally and repeatedly brings up the prospect of his imprisonment—“There are no fine wines in prison,” he somberly notes at one point—and when Shiv hardly reacts, he knows where he stands: alone. “He’s not in a good place with his wife,” Macfadyen says. “He doesn’t trust her. She’s quite happy. She’s OK with him going to jail. He realizes that.”

Thus, Tom begins to search for other partners. In the fourth episode of Season 3, he visits Greg’s closet office and tells his mentee the story of Nero and Sporus. “Sporus was a young slave boy. He was Nero’s favorite,” Tom says to Greg, who admits to not being familiar with the IP. “Nero pushed his wife down the stairs. And then he had Sporus castrated, and he married him instead.” After explaining that he bought a book on Roman history to read in prison, Tom prophetically blurts out, “I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat.”

Before getting Jon Brown’s script, neither Macfadyen nor Braun had heard Sporus’s tale. “I didn’t even look it up to see if it was true,” Braun admits. “I was like, ‘This will work. This is really funny. He could totally just be making it up.’” Macfadyen adds: “It’s a really beautifully written scene because it comes from a place of terrible fear and pain and worry.”

Following story time, Tom invites Greg to wrestle him, mocks him for not wanting to fight, claims that he’s only joking, then yells at him for being “so hard to riff with.” And as he’s walking out the door, Tom blows a huge raspberry and knocks over the coatrack. “That was just Matthew doing something extra,” Braun says. “Just an extra thing for Greg to pick up.”

The most buttoned-up squares like Tom still need to let loose: especially when they’re under pressure. “When someone’s too poker faced and labored, it’s boring,” Macfadyen says. “People like Steve Martin and John Cleese and a lot of what they do, a lot of the ludicrousness, is informed by rage. It’s being out of control. And I think that’s a good way in.”

When Tom learns that the Department of Justice’s investigation likely won’t lead to him facing criminal charges, he releases his long-pent-up rage by once again freaking out in Greg’s office. This time, he screams, turns over his cousin-in-law’s desk, hops up onto a file cabinet, and beats his chest.

As savvy as Tom is, he still seems stuck. He may have evaded jail time, but no one is going to reward him for his proposed self-sacrifice. And it’s not like his marriage is on solid ground. In a love scene in the penultimate episode, Shiv flat out tells him that he’s not good enough for her. “That’s why you love me,” she says. “Even though I don’t love you.” Shiv later plays it off as foreplay, but the damage is done. “She’s just a brilliant actress,” Macfadyen says of Snook. “You see all these things flash across her face; she has this wonderful, awful vulnerability and then it shuts down. All the Roy children are so terrified of feeling anything or appearing to be vulnerable. Sarah does that so well.”

By the time Kendall, Roman, and Shiv are in Tuscany, teaming up to stop Logan from selling Waystar in the season finale, Tom hasn’t just been dismissed. He’s been forgotten. But that, Mylod says, is Tom’s superpower: “People write him off and underestimate him.”

No one has any idea that Tom, who’s been left at Shiv’s mother’s wedding, is busy recruiting Sporus for a “deal with the devil.” “No one even clocked their existence at that moment,” McKay says. “They were absolutely invisible, which is what gave them the opportunity.”

It takes some convincing, but Greg says he’s in—but not before literally bidding farewell to his soul. “When Jesse sends us a finale episode, it’s just an incredible read,” Braun says. “And every square foot of it is taken up with something important and exciting. I was like, ‘Holy shit. This is crazy.’ And a great last moment for Tom and Greg. The ‘boo souls’ moment.”

When the Roy children arrive at Logan’s Tuscan compound—“There was this emotional deadness to this place,” Mylod says—their father has already won, beating the kids to the punch and renegotiating the clause in his divorce agreement that gave them a voting majority and the power to block any movements Logan might make. Shiv asks the only remaining question: “Who told him that we were coming?”

The answer comes when Logan walks out the front door and crosses paths with Tom. The media mogul acknowledges his son-in-law, smiles, pats him on the right shoulder, and keeps on moving—all while Shiv looks on.

“The swing of power in that family’s world had just happened to have swung in such a direction that Tom and Greg were almost completely unnecessary,” McKay says. “I think you mix that with a little bit of the hurt. Tom always knew Shiv was tough. Tom always knew she wasn’t the most nurturing of people. But I think at that point, he started realizing, ‘Oh, I’m something for her to use. I’m something to make her feel better. But there’s no real relationship here.’ The hurt of that, with the power tides swinging or receding, I think the opportunity was there.”

“When I’d read it on the page, I’d immediately thought of it as the staging at the end of The Godfather,” Mylod says, “with the door closing on Diane Keaton with Michael [Corleone] inside the office: that sense of peeking through.”

According to the director, it took a few hours on the day of shooting to figure out exactly how to end the scene. “Once Matthew’s character continued into the room and the script was quite clear that Sarah’s character, Shiv, had seen this, I suppose I imagined in my head, and I think Jesse did, that we cut to black,” Mylod says. “But that felt, on the day, kind of soapy. It felt too melodramatic.” Snook and Macfadyen eventually solved the problem themselves. “The solution was eventually Sarah breaking downstage and Matthew’s choice, which was spontaneous, as I understand, in that particular take, to then follow her and be behind her,” says Mylod. “That’s what gave us the contradictory moment of him holding her and yet her rage and hurt and him oblivious to it.”

Graeme Hunter

If Tom had learned anything about Logan since the pilot, it was that there’s only one gift he truly likes receiving: more power. “He probably wouldn’t buy him another watch,” Macfadyen says.

Tom may not end up on top, but one thing is certain: He’s no longer a laughingstock. “One of the delights for me of reading the first scripts was the clues in the title with Succession—you immediately play that game throughout, don’t we, as fans of the show,” Mylod says. “We say, ‘Could Greg do that? Could it be Shiv?’ Of course, the rise and falls of everyone’s individual stock is part of the game. … There is something about the doggedness of Tom and his sheer capacity for pain. I think he’s a player.”

Looking back, the Emmy-winning Macfadyen never would’ve expected Tom to climb the ladder the way that he has. “I was like, ‘Well, who knows where it would go?’” the actor says. “The fun of it is just going along for the ride and the not knowing.”

The fact is that Tom Wambsgans just has a way of surprising people—even the man who plays him.

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