Jeremy Strong on Kendall Roy & the final season of Succession

Next Monday, 29 May 2023, the fourth and final season of Succession will come to an end on Showmax, wrapping up one of the most acclaimed series of the century so far. 

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Created by Oscar nominee Jesse Armstrong (Veep),Succession has already won 13 Emmys, includingOutstanding Drama Series in 2020 and 2022, but Season 4 may just be its most loved yet: it’s currently the most popular show in the world on IMDb, withIndiewire hailing it as “the end all, be all of TV.” 

We spoke to Jeremy Strong about his Emmy-winning role as Logan’s second-eldest son, Kendall Roy, the “winner of the funeral” in this week’s penultimate episode. 

In the last episode of Season 3, Kendall breaks down out by the trash cans. You had that great line: “There’s something really wrong with me. I don’t know what the f*ck is wrong with me.” What is, or was, wrong with Kendall? 

I don’t know. I think when he says, “I don’t know,” Idon’t know either. I mean: don’t we all sort of feel like that sometimes? [Laughs] Something is out of alignment with him, in his life. He has a Grand Canyon-sized hole to fill, that he’s been trying to fill. First through addiction, and now through ambition. 

He thinks that if he becomes CEO, if he becomes the alpha, if he becomes the dominant person in this family drama, maybe that will do the trick. But with Kendall, we’ve seen him so desperately try to hold things together, and to cling to whatever positivity and buoyancy he might be able to cling to, like a life-raft. If he lets go of that positivity, and self-belief, he’ll drown. 

Kendall is always straddling that razor-sharp line. So when he says, “There’s something wrong with me,” part of it, of course, has to do with the accident, and the death of the boy in England, and the pain he’s been carrying around. But I would say there’s more wrong than that. 

In the opening episode of the new season, Roman says he’s the only one who wants to start a business for business reasons. Shiv is doing it to “f*ck Tom”; Kendall to “f*ck dad”. Why is Kendall still so gripped by this desire to, to paraphrase Roman, f*ck his dad? 

Well, I don’t think that’s entirely true. I think, as ever, Kendall’s motivation is complex. I think he sees a really good opportunity on the deal front. He’s got the same nose as his father does. Part of what we see in this season, I think, is whether or not Kendall has Logan in his DNA. And whether or not he will become his father. That question has been hanging over the writing all four seasons. But having [this deal] in Kendall’s laser sights, is something that makes sense to me on a business level. With the added bonus – and I think there’s a moment about it [in the episode] – that it’s pretty f*cking funny to screw dad over his lifelong white whale obsession. 

As we head into the finale, Kendall could lose Waystar Royco to Lukas Mattson [Alexander Skarsgård]. What role has Mattson played this season?

Alex gave us a counterforce. In a way he takes the place of Logan, not just as an antagonist but as an actor with such gravitas and power. If you don’t have anything to push up against, if you don’t have that friction, then you don’t have drama, you don’t have anywhere to go. 

Why is Succession ending? 

I think that’s really a question for Jesse Armstrong. But I think that Jesse feels that it’s run its course. I feel the same way about my character’s journey. Of course, these brilliant writers could have extended the show and found infinite riches in terms of the terrain and the material that they could have mined. But I think he felt that this was the right place to land. The journey, when I think back for me, of getting in that car and listening to the Beastie Boys rap, to where we’ve ended: it’s really just a tremendous, incomprehensibly big journey that I’ve been on. 

We’ve seen Kendall essentially lose everything. We’ve seen him at the highest altitude, at these summit moments. And we’ve seen him in the ninth circle of hell. And dramatically, an arc can only go so far [with] moments of incredible catharsis, and moments of incredible transformation, and road-to-Damascus moments along the way. So I felt… not surprised when Jesse decided to call it. 

Watch the teaser for the finale:

Binge Succession S1-4 on Showmax now, ahead of the finale on Monday, 29 May 2023:https://www.showmax.com/eng/tvseries/yous6pmy-succession 

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