Kieran Culkin Didn’t Realize Acting Was His Passion Until 'Halfway Through the First Season' of “Succession”

"I came home and told my wife, 'I think I know what I want to do for a living, I think I want to be an actor,'" Culkin recalled. "I'd been doing it for about 31 years at that point"

Macall B. Polay/HBO Kieran Culkin in
Macall B. Polay/HBO Kieran Culkin in 'Succession'

Kieran Culkin can distinctly remember the moment he realized his true passion for acting.

Culkin, 41, spoke with Jesse Eisenberg at a Tribeca Film Festival panel on Thursday, June 13, saying that despite being an actor most of his life, it wasn’t until a few years ago that he realized he truly loved it while working on HBO's Succession.

“It wasn't until about halfway through the first season of Succession where I came home and told my wife, 'I think I know what I want to do for a living, I think I want to be an actor,'" Culkin recalled. “I'd been doing it for about 31 years at that point.”

<p>Peter Kramer/HBO</p> Sarah Snook (left) and Kieran Culkin (right) in 'Succession'

Peter Kramer/HBO

Sarah Snook (left) and Kieran Culkin (right) in 'Succession'

He explained that when he first started working on the hit series, he was stuck in his way of doing things and always wanting to “be completely on book.” One day, he decided to let go of the “panic” he felt from not playing a role he was entirely knowledgeable about.

“I went, 'Fine, f— it. I don't know anything, and we're just going to do it completely differently this time,'" he shared. “And I found a weird freedom in doing something completely unknown that I hadn't done before and had been forced to trust people that it turns out were great.”

He added: “But that was, itself, that was its own sort of new experience.”

Related: J. Smith-Cameron Says She Once Threw a Martini at Succession Costar Kieran Culkin: 'He Was Asking for It'

The Now You See Me star related to Culkin, confessing that the “desperate attempt” not to overthink a scene “makes you neurotically freeze.” He said when so much focus is placed on the details, the actors can’t fully embrace their character.

“You focus on this other seemingly important stuff, which really is unimportant — because your smart is not important — I think you do these things as a distraction,” Eisenberg said. “Your brilliance really is the spontaneity.”

<p>John Salangsang/Variety via Getty</p> Kieran Culkin (left) and Jesse Eisenberg (right)

John Salangsang/Variety via Getty

Kieran Culkin (left) and Jesse Eisenberg (right)

Culkin admitted he didn’t used to like rehearsing or watching himself act, but he had to learn to get used to it when Succession started to air.

“I actually had to keep up with it because there's so much stuff that didn't make the cut or things that were no longer part of the show,” he said. “Also, I was a fan of the show so I kind of wanted to see how it was gonna play out.”

Related: Kieran Culkin Says He 'Didn't Know' What Home Alone Was About While Filming

Looking back, the Home Alone alum said because he had been in the acting world since childhood, he had a point where he didn’t feel like he “chose to do this” career. This contributed to his lack of passion for acting until he found his place in Succession.

“I had that sort of crisis at like 19, 20, which I think is sort of normal,” Culkin confessed. “I think a lot of people at that age are trying to figure out what the hell they want to do with their life.”

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Culkin played Roman Roy in Succession for all four seasons of the HBO hit. His portrayal ultimately earned him a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for best actor in a drama series.

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