Matthew Macfadyen held out as long as he could before asking the big Succession question.
Who would succeed Logan Roy?
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The answer — as viewers of the beloved Emmy-winning HBO series now know — was pointed right at him.
“Shiv, you should probably know: it’s me,” spoke Macfadyen in the series finale when revealing the show’s final and ultimate blindside that his Tom Wambsgans — husband to Siobhan “Shiv” Roy (Sarah Snook), would be the new CEO of Waystar Royco, the media company run by Brian Cox’s Logan Roy.
After winning the 2023 Emmy for best supporting actor in a drama, Macfadyen revealed backstage that he waited until they were filming the fifth episode — which is two episodes after creator Jesse Armstrong delivered his first big shocker with Logan Roy’s death — before asking their boss who would succeed the Succession throne.
“Jesse said to us at the beginning, gave us a sort of clue about Brian’s character, that was quite something to take in,” he told press, including The Hollywood Reporter, “and then he said: ‘If you want to know what happens to your character come and see me.’ And I held out until about episode five and I went to see him… it was quite something to take in.”
Still, Macfadyen says he then “put it out of my mind, because I thought they might change their mind. And also, you can’t play the end of the season so yeah, it was pretty, pretty exciting.”
Armstrong and his writers room did not change their minds, as the Mark Mylod-directed finale, “With Open Eyes,” ended with a highly confident Tom waltzing into Waystar Royco to seal the GoJo deal with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgard), now the new owner of the media company. Tom and Shiv ride away in a private car with Shiv reluctantly taking Tom’s hand when he coldly offers it up. Her siblings, meanwhile, have even icier endings: “eldest boy” Kendall (Jeremy Strong) contemplates his own life while staring out into the water and Roman (Kieran Culkin) ends the series alone at a bar, sipping a Gerri-inspired martini.
Snook and Culkin were also big winners of the night, with the onscreen siblings taking home the best lead actress and actor in a drama trophies, respectively. Missing from the ensemble was Strong, who Armstrong shared from the stage (when collecting one of his trophies; for best writing and best series) that the actor is currently filming a movie. Strong will next start in the ensemble movie The Apprentice, alongside Sebastian Stan playing a young Donald Trump. Writer Lucy Prebble was also absent, having just had a baby.
When asked backstage if anyone had yet spoken to Strong, Cox — his onscreen father who has famously spoken about Strong’s method acting in the past — jokingly replied, “We don’t allow it. We do not allow speaking to Jeremy.” Armstrong then clarified that Strong sends his best wishes and Culkin offered, “A lot of texting.”
Ever since Succession announced it would be ending its record-setting run with season four, questions have been hurled at the creator and his cast about spinoff ideas. Though ideas of a cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) spinoff have been bandied around, nothing has any actual legs at this point. Especially with Armstrong so effectively (and universally) sticking the landing.
Backstage, perhaps in a hopeful note given the Succession sweeping night, Macfadyen told the inquiring press, “I would never say never, but highly unlikely and would all depend on what Jesse Armstrong wanted to do. I think Jesse’s instinct and all our instincts is that we’ve ended just at the right place, and we sort of didn’t tie it up, we just sort of left them to carry on in a strange and frightening world. As nice as it would be to work with everybody, it would be strange.”
When speaking to THR on the red carpet before the show, J-Smith Cameron, who played Gerri Kellman, revealed one scene that didn’t make the series finale’s final cut that would set Gerri and Tom up for more, should Armstrong ever decide to spinoff his perfect ending.
“If it was up to me, certainly. I think Jesse Armstrong and the other writers probably need a well-deserved break. They really hit it out of the park, in my opinion. But maybe after a good rest, who knows? Maybe they will start missing us,” she said. “I think he set it up perfectly for me. In the story, Tom Wambsgans, acted by the delicious Matthew Macfadyen is named CEO and then he’s like, ‘We need Gerri. She’s not afraid of the dark.’ Which, I love that line. So I think I’m kind of set up.”
She continued, “We did one take, which is not in the finale, where Tom took my arm and kind of walked me down the hallway, and it was like the end of Casablanca, where they say, ‘The beginning of a beautiful friendship.’ It was kind of like that. They couldn’t use it. All of our episodes had so much embarrassment of riches, we always have to cut back.”
And backstage after his directing win for Logan Roy’s death episode, “Connor’s Wedding,” Mylod maintained the never-say-never sentiment: “It’s nice to think there could be, isn’t it?” he said of a Succession continuation. “A musical, that could be nice. It’s probably isn’t it [but] if somebody comes up with a great idea, like Brian Cox said, if it’s a great idea, if Jesse writes something…”
Armstrong added that he feels no pressure to top Succession, as he’s basking in the moment.
“I don’t feel any pressure in that regard,” he said backstage. “I just feel like this is really a special show and a very special cast, Brian [Cox] sitting there, he’s in a state of rebellion. This group of people, I don’t expect it to ever be repeated. I hope I do interesting work the rest of my life, but I’m quite comfortable with the feeling I might not ever be involved with something quite as good, so I don’t feel that pressure.”
See all of the 2023 Emmy winners here.
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