Sarah Snook was apprehensive about the project, despite her obvious pedigree, when she was first offered to play Siobhan “Shiv” Roy, the only daughter of a ruthless but sick media mogul in HBO’s “Succession.”
As a rising actor thanks to a string of award-winning film and television roles in Australia and his well-received return in the 2015 biopic “Steve Jobs,” Snook feared marginalization at first glance. It was like, “a group of white men doing business.”
“Do I want to be a prop in this story that has no focus on me?” He recalled recently filming “Succession” in a cafe near Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he lived. “I read the pilot and said, ‘I want to watch this but I don’t know if I want to be in it’.”
Snook’s concern was understandable, especially given the gender dynamics of prestigious TV circa 2016, “‘Game of Thrones’ was huge and there was a trend for more female nudity on TV.” Fortunately, it also turned out to be misplaced: Shiv has proven to be a key player in the cynical, male-dominated world of “Dating”, returning to HBO with its fourth and recently announced final season. March 26
The news that “Succession” will end with Season 4, first reported by The New Yorker last month, caught many fans and apparently some of the cast off guard. Snook said that despite indications throughout production that the series may be coming to an end, he was not formally notified until the final tableau read in January.
“I was very upset,” he said in a follow-up call from Melbourne a few weeks after our meeting in Brooklyn. “I felt a great sense of loss, disappointment and sadness. It would have been nice to know at the start of the season but I understand it wasn’t said until the end because there was still potential and maybe it wouldn’t be the last.”
“Emotionally, we weren’t all ready to end the show because we love each other so much,” she added. “But everything has to come to an end, and it’s wise not to let anything become a parody of itself.”
Created by British author Jesse Armstrong, the Emmy-winning epic follows Logan Roy (Brian Cox), a moody self-made billionaire, and grown-up children who are desperate to win his approval and take over the family’s big news and entertainment company, Waystar Royco. “Friendship” offers viewers a glimpse into life within a powerful media dynasty – Mediterranean superyachts and duped private jets, but also the frustrating family dysfunction that can accompany extravagant wealth.
Brutal sibling rivalry and intricate parent-child relationships are what make “Succession” relatable, even for those of us who have never set foot in Davos. Like her older brothers Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck), Shiv has deep father issues brought up by her status as the only woman in the family. (Harriet Walter’s mother, played with her chilling neutrality, is a fictitious presence in his life.)
As sharp and ruthless as his namesake, Shiv rivals his father in sheer cunning. His Machiavellian exploits include dissuading a former employee from testifying before a Senate committee about sexual misconduct at Waystar and leaking details to the press about Kendall’s struggles with addiction and mental illness. But Season 4 finds Shiv at its lowest point: she is kicked out of the company after a mind-blowing betrayal and estranged from her once devoted husband, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen).
Snook, it’s worth mentioning, cannot resemble any less than Shiv: An unhurried and self-deprecating Australian, he doesn’t personally display any of his character’s cold powers, showing up in a gray hoodie and worn Blundstone boots in a quiet cafe. When a schedule mishap sends me to the wrong county for our meeting, he texts me the correct address and waits patiently in Brooklyn while I take a taxi across the river.
Still, Snook learned lessons from Shiv, especially the “confidence that he’s allowed to be anywhere”. He doesn’t believe in the glass ceiling because he can buy the building.”
While you might not know this from his nearly flawless American accent on the show, Snook grew up outside of Adelaide, the city where Logan Roy’s loose muse, Rupert Murdoch, built his newspaper empire.
The youngest of three sisters, Snook performed at an early age, earning a high school drama scholarship and – what could be considered her first paid acting job – worked as a children’s party entertainer named Fairy Lavender. (She continued to fuss when she moved to Sydney to attend the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art, but had to change her name to Fairy Twinkle Toes; Sydney already had a Fairy Lavender.)
The job taught him an early lesson in winning over a skeptical audience. “There are a lot of kids who say, ‘I don’t know if I believe you,'” he said. “That’s what Shiv does when he walks into a room and says, ‘You have to believe I can do this’.”
After finishing his studies at NIDA, Snook has worked regularly in Australian theatre, film and television.
Hollywood quickly noticed: she was one of the last candidates to play Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (the role eventually went to Rooney Mara). In 2014, she starred alongside Ethan Hawke in the dizzying sci-fi drama “Predestination,” and gave a daring performance as an intersex character who lived first as a woman and then as a man. Snook’s male personality – he bore, as he put it, an uncanny resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio’s “less attractive brother” – was so convincing that his own mother didn’t recognize him on set.
“Finding character was easier for me than being a hot surfer girl,” she said. “To be a man? This is great.”
Working with Hawke, who once adorned his sister’s bedroom wall in a “White Fang” poster, made Snook think he had reached the top too soon. He didn’t. She soon switched from “The Dressmaker”, a period film set in the Australian countryside, to “Steve Jobs” (both films, incidentally, starred Kate Winslet).
Then came the “Succession”.
Casting director Francine Maisler, one of the early champions of Snook’s work, brought Snook to the attention of Adam McKay, who directed the pilot, and Armstong, who was impressed by the mix of intelligence, toughness, and humanity he brought to the audition.
“Oh my God, will anyone be?” “Oh my god, I hope he didn’t get any offers,” Armstrong recalled. “He was the only person in the world who could do all this at the same time.”
Throughout the series, Shiv has evolved, if not fully grown. In Season 1, he paved a way outside of the family’s conservative media empire as an advisor to a Bernie Sanders-like senator. Finally returning to Waystar, Shiv reshapes herself as a naive corporate feminist who guides the company through a sexual harassment scandal but is swept away for the post of general manager and dismissed as an “iconic woman” by one of her brothers.
For all the flair of Shiv, her journey offers a definitive example of the misogyny that even privileged women face. (He also wore a much-controversial style makeover, transforming bohemian waves into a sleek strawberry blonde bob and adopting a wardrobe of Hepburn-like trousers.) Snook believes Shiv has real centre-left politics. However, she “understands that sometimes you have to bend your beliefs to get what you want in the long run,” he said.
Armstrong said Snook’s abilities as an actor made such a dramatic character curve possible. “The enduring feeling you have as a writer is the incredible confidence that you can go anywhere, at any level of emotional complexity, and Sarah will not only fit in with that, but also add three of her own layers,” he said.
Shiv’s marriage to unassuming sycophant Tom Wambsgans (Macfadyen), whom Shiv humiliated repeatedly, including on their wedding night when he said he wanted an open marriage, has been a particularly rich vein for me on a show all about power. its forms.
Its centrality to the narrative crystallized in the Season 3 breakout shot, a stunning close-up of Shiv assimilating Tom’s terrifying realization that he had betrayed Logan in a showdown with Logan, his hands menacingly resting on his shoulders. “He’s doing the one thing he never believed he could do because he’ll never have the guts or the guts,” Snook said.
“You feel the quake of a power shift,” Armstrong said on stage. “A room where the balance of power in his personal relationship is completely disrupted, as if someone had opened the door to a series of rather gruesome rooms that he didn’t know existed” – all this played out in Snook’s face.
The lip-smacking moment was not written in detail: the “Friendship” cast is often encouraged to improvise, revising their lines on the fly, and allowing the scenes to play out beyond what is written on the page; emotional realism
“It made me less valuable in terms of performance. I’m more willing to fail and mess up,” said Snook, who, like Macfadyen, faces the challenge of improvising with his non-native accent. instead, he will stop and watch and that will be enough.
“She has an incredible ability to contain the great sadness and anger that Shiv has. Keeping it under control is a skill,” said Macfadyen.
While its ratings are modest, “Sequence” has dominated the cultural conversation since its 2018 debut for how cunningly it inflates the billionaire class. But as the pandemic has kept the show off the air for two years, Snook said he only recently became aware of the “noise” around him. This interest is particularly evident in certain neighborhoods where it tends to be more recognized, such as New York’s Upper East Side.
“I think rich people should watch the show,” he said. “I hope they watch with a good sense of irony.”
Leaving “Succession” behind, 35-year-old Snook is looking ahead with two intriguing projects scheduled for release this year: “Run Rabbit Run” and “The Beanie Bubble,” a horror movie for Netflix. The weird story behind the ’90s Beanie Baby craze for Apple TV+. He also directed a short film during the pandemic period and wants to go behind the camera again soon.
She also spends time with her comedian husband, Dave Lawson, who waved affectionately from the cafe window as we spoke. After years of platonic friendship, the couple fell in love during Australia’s strict COVID quarantine and were married in 2021 in Snook’s Brooklyn backyard. romantic.
Snook’s domestic happiness is another aspect of him that is different from his character, but he sees parallels in his experiences. The actress recently came across a clip of Shiv from Season 1 on Instagram and was stunned by the “growth of a woman from her 20s to her 30s and into adulthood”.
“Shiv had a daughter back then, but she turned into a woman,” she said, “which reflects my own journey as part of the series.”