Why Succession's Jeremy Strong Has A Better Feeling Going Into Season 3

Succession Season 2 finale Shiv and Logan Roy watch Kendall Roy press conference
(Image credit: HBO)

Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy crying in Succession Season 1 finale

(Image credit: HBO)

Starting filming for Succession Season 2 was like entering "the ninth circle of hell" for Jeremy Strong. If you saw the Succession Season 1 finale, you know why -- his character, Kendall Roy, accidentally killed someone. Strong made Kendall's burden his own, going deep with his acting in a way the fools at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards ignored, but Succession fans appreciated.

Now that Succession Season 3 filming is reportedly starting this spring 2020 for a late summer premiere on HBO, Jeremy Strong is in a much better headspace. Because so is Kendall.

I know for me, going back to the second season was something I dreaded the whole time just because of the circumstances where the character ended the first season. But going into the third season, it’s quite different. I don’t feel like I have to start in the ninth circle of hell.

That's what Jeremy Strong told EW in a great Q&A with co-stars Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin, who play Kendall's siblings Siobhan and Roman Roy. Kendall Roy really went through the ringer all season long, and Strong struggled with that on a personal level. He related to that earnest and heartfelt moment between Kendall and Shiv, when Ken went in for a surprise hug:

[P]ersonally, I’d had a really hard time the first couple of months [of shooting Season 2] just because of what I was trying to put myself through, to be where I felt like Kendall needed to be. And that [hug] was the first human contact that I’d been given in the writing in the season, just saying, 'Hey, I need help, I’m in trouble.' I was in trouble. It was hard for me and I didn’t want to feel that way anymore, so it was really easy to look at Sarah and basically say, 'I don’t want to feel this way anymore.' I was holding a pill bottle and then for some reason I was trying to hug into my chest like I see my daughter do with her binky. I wish we had more scenes that were connective in that way, but [the writers] deny us that because [the characters] don’t have that in their lives.

Wow, Jeremy Strong clearly took himself to a dark place to make Succession Season 2, and I am of the opinion that the Golden Globes Best Actor nomination that went to Game of Thrones' Kit Harington should've had Jeremy Strong's name on it. He delivered on every level.

Succession Season 2 finale Shiv and Logan Roy watch Kendall Roy press conference

(Image credit: HBO)

But on the flip side, the fan appreciation for Succession keeps growing and growing to the point where it could threaten to be a distraction. For example, people dressed as Kendall in his "LOG" rap shirt for Halloween! And Strong said he's working with Steven Spielberg now and all the legend could talk to him about was the Season 2 finale.

It’s gratifying, and at the same time it’s also like, how do we go back to work and feel sort of loose and free and not give a shit about expectations?

Speaking of the Succession Season 2 finale, Shiv and Roman did not know Kendall was going to do off-script at the big press conference. Jeremy Strong said he knew well in advance but tried to bury it in his mind. He also said he thought he and show creator Jesse Armstrong might have different takes on why Kendall decided to sell his father Logan Roy (Brian Cox) out. To Strong, it wasn't so much the idea of becoming the killer Logan wanted, but making a moral decision.

What I will say is the seizing of the throne that happened at the end of Season 2 is to me 180 degrees different from the reason why Kendall wanted it at the end of Season 1. At the end of Season 1, it was the Holy Grail and it was the sort of the pinnacle of his ambitions and something he had wanted his whole life. I think at the end of Season 2, I truly believe that he had lost that ambition…that he’d collapsed inside as a result of the tragedy that happened [at the wedding] and his complicity in that. But I think he saw something in that final episode in his father — Logan said to Kendall in the pilot, you’re not a killer. So that’s not new information. The new information to me is Logan’s complicity in what happened [on the cruise ships].

Kendall Roy's press conference cut to Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) reportedly holding evidence of Logan Roy's complicity in the cruise ships scandal.

And Nick Braun [who plays Cousin Greg] brought this up: There’s this moment in All My Sons, the Arthur Miller play, where the son finds out that his father knew about the faulty airplane parts, and then it becomes about doing the right thing, morally. It doesn’t become about self-interest. It’s about what needs to be done.

Plus, Ken had spent all season guilt-ridden over the death of Andrew Dodds, the young man Logan had fired in Season 1 before drug-addled Ken got him killed. Logan dismissed the kid as "No Real Person Involved." To me, that was the final straw for Kendall.

The Succession Season 2 finale ended with Logan Roy's enigmatic little smile in reaction to the press conference. Brian Cox said told Vulture Logan was setting Kendall up to become the man he has not been, saying there was "a certain inevitability" to the finale. He added to Deadline that the smile/smirk "reflects that the boy has finally grown up. He’s finally taking some kind of positive action."

Brian Cox as Logan Roy smile smirk in Succession Season 2 finale

(Image credit: HBO)

Where do things go from here in Succession Season 3? In late November 2019, Succession writer and co-executive producer Lucy Prebble told Deadline the writers had started working on Season 3, which would likely film in the spring for another summer air date to follow the first two seasons.

It’s early days in terms of storylining. One of the difficult things about the show is that you never want it to be too on the nose about what is happening now in the world. You want the emotional aspect of it to be true but not too parallel to what’s happening today. There are a lot of conversations about what the Season 2 ending means for that particular relationship [Logan and Kendall Roy].

As we wait for Succession Season 3 to film, then give us a trailer and premiere date, keep up with everything premiering in early 2020 with our handy TV schedule.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.