'Succession' storylines reportedly inspired by Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch's family

Brian Cox's
Brian Cox's Succession character, Logan Roy, was at least partly inspired by News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch. (Photo: Macall Polay/HBO, Getty Images)

The claws-out Roy family depicted in HBO's Succession has long been known to be based on real-life media clans, and, according to a new report, that has caused problems for the relatives of Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

A Vanity Fair story published Wednesday recounted the 92-year-old's professional woes, which allegedly very much bleed into his personal life, based on comments from unnamed sources close to the situation. Just like on the show, Murdoch's family has reportedly long been in competition to see who's going to run his media empire after he's stepped down. Already, some of his six adult children, whose mothers are Murdoch's ex-wives Anna Maria Torv, Patricia Booker and Wendi Deng, have different ideas about what his businesses, which includes Fox News, should be doing — and what they shouldn't. Moreover, the story noted that Murdoch's son Lachlan, his "favorite," told the patriarch that his brother James had been "leaking stories to the writers of Succession." A Lachlan source said this wasn't true.

What certainly is true is that, like the Roys, the Murdochs live a life that includes yachts, boards and high-profile breakups. Murdoch's ex-wife Jerry Hall, the model and actress, found out he was leaving her in an email, according to the story. When the two finally settled their divorce, Vanity Fair reported, Hall was barred from feeding story ideas to a certain HBO Emmy winner.

A photo from the production of episode 403
Logan Roy (Brian Cox) confers with his son-in-law, Tom (Matthew McFayden), on the latest episode of
Logan Roy (Brian Cox) confers with his son-in-law, Tom (Matthew McFayden), on an episode of Succession. (Photo: David M. Russell/HBO) (David M. Russell)

For what it's worth, Succession creator and showrunner Jesse Armstrong has said the Murdochs are just one of the families that have inspired him.

"I wrote the pilot solo, so there was a good deal of my own research and life experience in there," Armstrong told HBO. "Then there's the writing room, which everyone informs with their stories and backgrounds. We thought of famous media families like the Hearsts, to modern-day Redstone, John Malone, Robert Fitz of Comcast, Murdoch, and Robert and Rebekah Mercer, who founded Breitbart. Lots of real-life moguls. We collected a myriad of these kinds of relationships that we knew about. And then like all creative people, you raid a surprising range of relationships that you've known from your own life. So, lots and lots of places."

The fictional family lost Logan, their father, father-in-law and, in cousin Greg's case, uncle, on Sunday's episode, which is sure to prompt an even more intense than usual power struggle in the final episodes of the show's fourth and final season, which concludes May 14.

It's a project that Cox, in particular, is sure to miss.

He told Yahoo Entertainment in January 2022 that Logan is "a fantastic role to play. He's an incredibly mysterious character. He's not what he appears, and the audience always get it wrong."

His death was definitely unexpected, which was, of course, by design.