Succession is ‘coming to an end, and I’m happy to move on’, says star Brian Cox
“I have had a great time, it’s one of the best times in my career… I’ve loved it,” says Scottish actor Brian Cox, 76, who has gained a new legion of fans for his portrayal of bullish patriarch Logan Roy.
“But, you know, it’s not the be all and end all, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just a great stop along the way in my career, and I’m very grateful for it – I will always be grateful for it because it’s given me a lot.”
It is a role that has earned Cox a Golden Globe award and two Emmy nominations, in a career that has spanned more than three decades and seen him star in films such as Rob Roy, Braveheart, and many more.
“At the same time, I am a sort of artist, so I’m actually wanting to move on. There are other things to be explored. I’m going back to the theatre… I’m very happy to be doing that,” he adds.
“I’m so grateful for this role. I’ve had a whale of a time playing it. But it’s coming to an end, and I’m very happy. I’m happy to move on.”
Of course, you cannot help thinking Logan might have phrased it in a more punchy way, given that the razor sharp comebacks and searing jibes from the characters are part of what has catapulted the show into the TV success stratosphere.
Since it first aired in 2018, the satirical drama series, the brainchild of Peep Show and Fresh Meat creator Jesse Armstrong, has followed the trials and tribulations of the Roys, with each member of the family displaying a voracious appetite for power while vying for control of the business amid uncertainty about the health of patriarch Logan.
“The most painful (thing) was being told: ‘Yep, this is it, we’re ending on season four’,” says Sarah Snook, who plays Siobhan “Shiv” Roy, Logan Roy’s youngest child and only daughter.
Despite the pain, Snook – who revealed at the Succession premiere that she is pregnant with her first child – adds that she is “excited for what is next, and playing a different character, and exploring something else”.
“There’s different parts of me that have just conflicting feelings about it ending,” says Kieran Culkin, who plays Logan’s son Roman Roy.
“I think the part of me that’s actually just a big fan of the show wants to see more episodes. And there’s part of me, like in my personal life, just like how great it is to work on this show, that I would love to keep doing it.
“There’s no other show, there’s no other job like this, just the way that we work. And I don’t think there ever will be for me again. So why wouldn’t I want to keep doing that?
“And then creatively, I do think that there is more story to tell. But if Jesse feels like it’s the end, then I know he’s making the right call. And having shot the entire fourth season, it feels like this is a very good end.”
“In terms of saying goodbye to Roman, I haven’t even begun that process yet,” adds Culkin, 40, who is the younger brother of Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin.
“I have no idea how that’s gonna go. I might be a wreck soon! We’ll find out.”
As emotional as fans will be at the close of the show’s final season, its stars felt this tenfold: saying goodbye to the characters, crew, creatives and co-stars they have come to know and love – as much as you can love this unpleasant bunch of characters, that is – was never going to be easy.
The last day on set, therefore, was “really upsetting”, says Snook, 35, as the team behind Succession came to realise that this was the end.
“There was a playfulness (to) the last scene that we shot, and I don’t know if it’ll make the cut, but what was nice about that was it gave a levity, I think, to something that was really otherwise quite sad,” she says.
“Whilst we were waiting for the sun to go down, because we had to shoot this scene at night, there was kind of a stillness on set, and everyone’s kind of milling about. And it was really upsetting.
“It was really sort of sad to see how this really strong band of people who have worked together for so many years, and really loved and enjoyed working together, are about to leave it all, and maybe never work together again.”
There is no denying Succession’s enduring success: the show has won 13 Emmys, having been nominated for the prestigious television awards 48 times, and has consistently received widespread critical acclaim and praise from viewers.
It is testament to the brilliance of the show that despite it following characters that are often greedy, unpleasant and abusive, it is still considered to be one of the greatest TV shows ever made.
“We still like the gladiatorial ring… and this is all that is, this is the same as the gladiatorial fight,” says Cox of the reasons behind the show’s popularity.
“I think human beings are very, very prone to want to see an accident,” he continues.
“People love accidents. You know, when there’s a car accident, people thrash around: ‘What’s happened, is he dead? Oh, my God.’ And that’s something that’s in us. We haven’t evolved enough.
“Thank God, because otherwise we wouldn’t have an audience!”
So, with the gladiator battle that is the fight for control over Waystar Royco set to reach its conclusion, there remains one question: will the Roy family ever be truly happy?
“They’re all just wretched human beings,” says Alan Ruck, 66, who plays Connor Roy.
“They’re just completely miserable. Connor is maybe the least miserable of all, but they’re just all self-involved.”
“I don’t think they’ll ever be happy,” adds Cox.
“Because their happiness is based on something which is transient, and not truthful. You know, you cannot be happy if you tell lies, because that undoes you at every turn.
“And I think that’s what Jesse’s writing about, he’s writing about the damage that is done in this pursuit of that thing… how it’s not serving humanity, it’s not serving who we are, we’re not progressing.
“And that’s what the show, really, to me, represented. It shows the non-progression of where we are as human beings, because these are the value systems that we look at.”
Season four of Succession will launch on Sky Atlantic and NOW on Monday, March 27.