The second season of Succession opens with Kendall Roy (played with tragic precision by Jeremy Strong) at his lowest possible low. Just as he begins slathering his troubled conscience and wounded ego with Silica mud, he is shuttled to a remote Icelandic TV studio and instructed to recite publicist-approved mea culpas. “I saw their plan, my dad’s was better,” he utters, tail between his legs, while also painting his father as powerful enough to destroy a city bus. Kendall has surrendered himself up to corporate puppeteering, a shell of a person drifting from one embarrassing Logan-assigned task to another. The cherry on top of his humiliating lack of agency? His new ride, a sleek black motorcycle … driven by someone else, because Kendall is not to be trusted.
Transportation has long been a sore spot for Ken. His Season 1 attempt to call a “vote of no confidence” against his father failed when he made a last-minute helicopter trip to Long Island, only for his return trip to be thwarted by a surprise flight restriction from the FAA. Then, after getting caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic, he listened, via iPhone, as his plan to overthrow the company crumbled beneath Logan’s terrifying presence. Now, he’s a little boy, holding tight while another man chauffeurs him around on a motorbike.
The actor behind the role just so happens to be one of Hollywood’s premiere motorbike stuntmen, Adam Wood. (Who you may or may not recognize from productions ranging from John Wick to the crime TV series Gotham.) He chatted with The Ringer about how he was discovered in a bike shop, what it was like working with Strong, and accurate representation of the motorcycle community in movies.
Where are you right now?
Well, right now I’m actually out east. I live on Long Island, but I’m out east riding dirt bikes.
Well, for fun and for training. That’s part of the stuntman’s life. If you’re not working, you’re training. But my wife always gives me a hard time about it because my training happens to be riding dirt bikes and motorcycles and doing all the fun stuff everybody likes to do.
How did you get into this line of work?
I always wanted to work in film and TV since I was a kid. So I pursued acting, got my BA in acting at Penn State, moved to New York. I was working at the Ducati motorcycle shop in Manhattan, just selling motorcycles. The Wall Street sequel came to town. And in passing, the stunt coordinator just happened to mention that he was looking for a stunt double who had their Screen Actors Guild card and a motorcycle rating license. At the time I had both … I submitted and he hired me. I doubled as Shia LaBeouf in the big race scene upstate.
When did you first learn that you would become Kendall’s personal motorcycle driver on Succession?
Actually, the person that first hired me on that job is the stunt coordinator for Succession, Stephen Pope. He asked me if I was available to be the motorcycle chauffeur for Kendall. They used a big Honda Gold Wing for it. One of the brand-new Hondas.
Is that a fast bike?
The Honda Gold Wing would be like the Town Car of chauffeur vehicles—if you were to be chauffeured around on a motorcycle, which I don’t think happens that often in the finance world. But those guys are also as crazy as they come. So I wouldn’t put it past any of them to actually do that.
In terms of wardrobe, how would you describe your costume?
What’s significant about this one is that normally, yes, I am asked to try on a bunch of different motorcycle gear. And normally the wardrobe department chooses the cheapest, most horrific-looking, gaudy motorcycle gear that only the worst motorcycle dude would wear. I showed up just having ridden in my Rev’it motorcycle gear. Wardrobe loved it so much that they just let me use my own suits. It’s just real nice that I got to show off nice motorcycle gear on a TV show.
The motorcycle community is going to be stoked on that.
This was not the first time you carried an actor on a motorcycle, right? Was that you in Vox Lux?
Yes, it was. It was pretty funny. I was basically like a gimp, in a completely covered mask with sequins. It was very, very, very barely see-through and so most of the shots I didn’t have to wear it. Then other times they dragged us around on a process trailer.
Where else would people recognize you from?
We also do a lot of New York TV. I did a bunch of motorcycle stuff on Gotham. I got a role where Falcone ripped a tooth out of my mouth. That was pretty fun. I do a lot of work on The Blacklist. This summer we’re shooting Clifford the Big Red Dog. They rented my motorcycle to act as the photo-reference double of Clifford. So my motorcycle, my own personal motorcycle got to be Clifford’s stunt double. I have a newborn boy coming in October, so I kind of joked that it’s my way of getting the family started, getting my motorcycles in the business.
Did you have to give Jeremy Strong any pointers for how to hold on?
I did have a few conversations with him: I asked if he had ever ridden on a motorcycle and stuff like that. He is super professional and took the notes really well. But he was also super into character. Which actually kind of worked for the story. [Kendall] requests the motorcycle because I think, from Season 1, he had missed a meeting because of traffic. So he vowed never to have that happen again. So he hires this motorcycle chauffer to get him through traffic. But his character, I don’t think his character has any idea of what to do around a motorcycle. When Jeremy came, he treated it like a Town Car. He kind of just hopped on and hopped off and didn’t really give a fuck about me. It was very much in character. He just treated me like the help, you know, and got on the bike and kept moving.
Did they give you any directions for who your character was?
They told me that I was like an ex-cop who they had hired to kind of just keep his mouth shut and ride to and from. I don’t even take my helmet off ever. So I wasn’t even really like an established character ever by any stretch of the imagination. But I did get in a few episodes, so that was fun.
Well, you were established to me.
Oh, thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I told my wife [you had reached out] and she was like, “Does she know that you didn’t even take your helmet off?”
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.