Actor Nicholas Braun, who plays fan favorite Cousin Greg on HBO’s “Succession,” has captured the fraught nature of dating during the pandemic in a catchy new punk song that started as a joke.
“If you come within 6 feet, it’s mask on, mask on, mask on, mask on. But if you have antibodies, it’s pants off, pants off, pants off, pants off,” Braun sings. “Do you have the antibodies, do you want to be with me? Do you have the antibodies, cuz if you don’t, then stay away!”
“Antibodies” quickly caught the ear of Atlantic Records, which released the single and a music video last week.
The video — shot on Braun’s iPhone — went (appropriately) viral and drew praise from recording artist Sia, who said she was “in love.” “Variety” dubbed the jam “an earworm” that “makes you smile.” And rock band Bastille observed: “Cousin Greg came to save music.”
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“I’ve gotten tons of good texts from people and musicians that I really revere who are like, ‘Antibodies' is good, man,’” Braun said recently from his home in New York. “It’s been an awesome creative experience for me.”
Though the song is funny, it was born of stress from the pandemic.
Braun’s 81-year-old father got COVID-19 in March. One of his “Succession” co-stars, Mark Blum, died of the coronavirus that same month, and a hair stylist with whom Braun had worked died of the virus in April.
Braun’s father has since recovered.
“I know some people haven’t had somebody in their life pass from it," Braun said. "But for me, I’ve now had a few moments where this thing is just really real.”
Braun, who was stuck in Los Angeles while his father battled the virus, also was inspired by loneliness.
“I was just feeling like, ‘God, it’d be great to go on a date with somebody and just have a little human contact,’” he said. “And I was talking to a girl and we were not sure if we should. And it just felt like, at the time, it was like, antibodies. Antibodies means you got through it. And, you know, my dad had his antibodies and it’s like, we’re safe! Right?”
That girl, an artist named Camilla Engstrom, not only dated Braun while he was in Los Angeles but appears in the “Antibodies” video, immortalizing the pair's brief but special quarantine romance.
“Our first three dates, I don’t think we hugged and didn’t even take our masks down,” Braun said. “So the third date, at the end of it, at the end of our walk, I was like, ‘Do you think we should hug?’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, we should hug.’ And I was like, ‘All right!’”
That one hug meant so much, Braun said.
“I feel like most people who are being responsible with this are not hugging a lot,” he said. “I think we’re deprived from that contact. So, yeah, we had a really good time, and it was a good quarantine thing that happened.”
“Antibodies” raises money to benefit Partners in Health, which brings health care to the vulnerable populations around the world, and Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment, which helps people living with chronic diseases on the poverty-stricken Navajo Nation.
On top of “Antibodies,” Braun’s other big news has been his surprise Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a drama for “Succession.”
“I expected other actors in my show to get nominations,” he said. “So I was like, ‘OK. Like, I’m rooting for my team.’ But I wasn’t really rooting for myself per se. It’s hard to believe in that thing until it happens.”
He was actually in the middle of congratulating co-star Jeremy Strong on his nomination when Braun’s team called to tell him about his.
“I’ve been acting since I was 6, so something I’ve thought about my whole life is how cool it would be to be nominated in any acting thing,” Braun said. “It was one of those benchmark moments where you’re like, ‘Oh my God. This actually happened.’”
“Succession” got a whopping 18 Emmy nominations overall, including best series, best actor for Brian Cox and Strong, and best supporting actress for Sarah Snook. Braun will be competing for best supporting actor with co-stars Kieran Culkin and Michael Macfadyen. The awards will be held virtually on Sept. 20.
Fans of the show have been hoping for any news about the third season but it hasn’t yet started shooting given the pandemic.
Braun said he knows the show’s producers are “trying to figure out how to shoot us safely and to create whatever the new set is of 2020.”
“I’m really hoping it’s soon and we can start reading scripts and seeing where things go,” he said. “We all are willing to do what it takes to get back to work and keep the story going.”
Meanwhile Braun is basking in the glow of “Antibodies.”
“It’s such a crazy time in the world,” he said. “I only want to do stuff that’s fun and creative and that people are enjoying. And so that’s what this has been.”