Ashley Zukerman, best known for playing Shiv Roy’s ex flame, Nate, on “Succession,” has a new TV role as Harvard professor of art and symbology Robert Langdon in “Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.”
It’s the same role played by Tom Hanks in the big-screen movies “The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels & Demons” and “The Inferno.”
“I tried not to think about [Hanks’] portrayal of the character much,” Zukerman, 37, told The Post. “I just felt like I was mining Dan Brown’s work.”
Premiering Thursday, Sept. 16 on Peacock, the thriller series follows Langdon as he becomes ensnared in a mystery when he’s called to the U.S. capitol to give a speech — only to find his mentor missing and a gruesome severed hand with a mysterious symbol tattoo. The resulting puzzle he must figure out involves everything from the CIA to Freemasons.
Langdon is the main character in Dan Brown’s bestselling novels, “The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels and Demons” and the titular “The Lost Symbol.” Zukerman’s rendition of the character is 20 years younger than the Hanks version of Langdon, even though the series is set in modern-day.
“Although this is the third book [about Langdon], we’re using it as a prequel,” he said. “So we’re able to dive deeper into his idiosyncrasies and ask why and pull at the threads a little more.”
Zukerman hadn’t read the books before starring in “The Lost Symbol” but said he dove in immediately after landing the role.
“It’s not that I started it and put it down, it’s just that I had missed them. But luckily, I was able to catch up and study this specific book and the Masons, and the [topic of] art history, and this specific world. It was sort of a thrilling thing. It was an incredible joy reading 3,000 pages about someone I was about to play. That’s unheard of in anything I’ve done previously.”
Dan Brown is also an executive producer on the show. Zukerman said he hasn’t had a great deal of interaction with the author, but they had one conversation that has stuck with him.
“It’s funny, he said something to me that at the time [that] I didn’t understand. He said it sort of in passing but I think he knew what he was doing. He told me that Robert Langdon would love to have faith, but just can’t. Personally, I’m such a cynic. Or, I just believe what I can see, or know. So that was an idea that was very foreign to me. But as we’ve delved further into the story, that’s what keeps resonating for me. He would love to have faith — he’d love to have something to lean on, some kind of compass to give him answers — and he just doesn’t.”
Meanwhile, Zukerman’s character on “Succession,” Nate, has not been announced as returning to the series when it returns for Season 3 next month on HBO.
The actor played coy about whether Nate might appear again.
“I don’t know what I can say — I’ll say that I don’t die,” he said. “I think they have such an inspired way of telling stories and it comes from such a genuine place. Who knows where the story will go.”