‘Succession’ Star Jeremy Strong on Kendall’s ‘Manic’ Season 3 High & Dynamic With Logan
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 3 of Succession, “The Disruption.”]
Untethered from the constraints of his father Logan’s (Brian Cox) control, Kendall was seen freely giving interviews, appearing at social engagements, and getting involved in the late-night TV sphere in order to bolster his public image and make an impact. And while he reveled in the joy of causing his family panic by showing up at the Waystar Royco offices and interrupting the company’s town hall with some loudspeakers, viewers saw that the fragility they’ve come to know from the character over the past few seasons begin to bubble to the surface.
Below, Strong opens up about Kendall’s power trip in Season 3, where his mental state is at and teases what Logan and Kendall’s eventual reunion might look like as the season progresses.
Kendall’s been on a high since the premiere and is making a lot of seemingly rash decisions. He’s setting up speaking engagements, partaking in press features. Do you think his actions are detrimental to reaching his ultimate goal of one day taking over Waystar Royco?
Jeremy Strong: I think in his mind he’s already taken over Waystar, in his mind he’s achieved his goal, and he’s living in the afterglow of that. It hasn’t logistically and officially all fit together, but fundamentally [Kendall believes] taken over and this is a victory dance. And the high that you talk about I think is really a kind of rocket booster manic flight. [Kendall’s] coming very forcefully out of the deep dark hole that he’s been in for so long. So there’s a sense of breaching the surface, and then continuing to fly.
The third episode, I really loved, because it’s just in a different key than he’s ever been in. It’s in a really positive key. It’s very up. And you feel the precariousness of this person trying to keep it up despite forces and realities that are trying to bring it back down to earth. In the scene with the journalist when I talk about my headspace, I thought a little bit about Jerry McGuire, where he stays awake all night writing the manifesto, and it’s like, he has this vision, and the vision is also kind of a crack up, but it’s a vision and there’s a clarity to his vision.
Kendall has a deep fascination with The Disruption and its host Sophie Iwobi (Ziwe Fumudoh) as well as any public commentary that bashes him. Is that speaking to something deeper like an unseen self-loathing?
I think he has to laugh at it. I worked on the film Lincoln 10 years ago, and there was something that Lincoln said about laughter because he had a life full of tragedy. He said about laughter, “If it were not for this valve, I should die.” And I guess there’s something of that in the way Kendall is responding to all of this. With all of this criticism and people taking shots at him, I think he feels like it doesn’t touch him, and it can’t hurt him, and nothing can hurt him anymore because he is free. There’s this new belief system that he has that is propelling him forward and upwards until it can’t anymore.
We see towards the end of the episode that Kendall’s fragile side still exists after that damaging letter from Shiv (Sarah Snook) comes out. Is that fragility just under the surface? Can we expect more breakdowns from him this season?
All I would say about that is Kendall actually gets higher than he’s ever been, and closer to the sun than he’s ever been. And so the closer he gets towards achieving his ostensible goal, and towards being finally free of this orbit that he’s been locked in with his father, the closer he gets to actually reaching escape velocity. And if he falls back and whirlpools in, that fall is going to be much harder and deeper than before. And so the yo-yo of the high to low is in a way what this season is for Kendall. If you actually feel a sense of hope, and if you lose that, then your despair is greater than it’s ever been.
Kendall has a new team of advisors and assistants who are helping guide him, but one downfall is that he doesn’t really listen to their advice. In particular, Kendall ignored Lisa Arthur’s (Sanaa Lathan) advice to skip going into the office in this episode. Will Kendall’s decision to assert his dominance against Logan backfire?
I don’t think he thinks it’s to his downfall. He feels that in this particular case, they’re losing control of the narrative, and Kendall blames Lisa for that. I feel like I’m a whistleblower. I’ve blown the whistle, and I’ve called attention to this deeply corrupt and moral rot that’s at the center of the company. And surely once I furnish evidence of that, something is going to change, and be done about it. And the fact that it seems like it’s just crickets out there, Kendall then feels like he has to take it into his own hands to control the narrative. A lot of this plays out in that sphere of optics. So it’s not for me to judge whether those things are, in the end, wise or not. I think Kendall feels like they are. And he’s also enjoying the ride.
Eventually, Kendall and Logan will have to come face-to-face, it seems inevitable. Can you tease what that might look like?
I didn’t actually see Brian [for most of the] season. I think we filmed in May or maybe late April, and we started shooting in November. So interestingly, even though I had not seen him or worked with him at all, he’s obviously incredibly present, and part of everything that I’m doing anyway. So that’s true for me as the actor, and that’s true for Kendall. Even though I haven’t seen him, he’s there. I remember there was a moment in Season 1 where I realized that this is, in a sense, a love story between Kendall and Logan. It is in a way about eternal love and familial love. So seeing him after what has happened is just incredibly complicated and loaded, but different than before. Because Kendall’s at a point where he’s not going to get sucked back into it, he’s empowered himself. Kendall is now really a worthy opponent of his father’s.
Succession, Season 3, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO