Succession creator recalls ‘terrified’ reaction to Jeremy Strong trying to jump into New York harbour

Actor said ‘the water was calling to me’ after the cameras stopped rolling

Inga Parkel
Monday 05 June 2023 19:51 BST
Succession final season trailer

Succession creator Jesse Armstrong admitted he was “terrified” when Jeremy Strong attempted to run and jump into the Hudson River while filming his character’s final scene.

*Warning – major spoilers for the Succession season four finale ahead*

Following the series finale of the award-winning wealth satire on Sunday 28 May, the 44-year-old actor, who’s known for his intense method acting approach, revealed that he tried to jump into the river while shooting his final scene as Kendall Roy.

Addressing Strong’s near-moment of spontaneity on a new episode of NPR’s Fresh Air podcast, Armstrong said that the actor “didn’t look like he was going to jump in at first”.

“But once he climbed over that barrier, when you film, there are generally a lot of health and safety assessments made,” the creator said. “I was terrified. I was terrified that he might fall in and be injured.

“That was not our plan that day,” Armstrong continued: “If we’d even been thinking of that happening, we would have had boats and frogmen and all kinds of safety measures, which we didn’t have.

“So my first thought was for his physical safety as a human being, not anything about the character. That’s what I felt on the day. Good Lord, above.”

During the closing scene of Armstrong’s brutal satire on the uber-rich, which follows the heirs to the fictional Waystar Royco media dynasty as they fight over who will replace their father, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), Kendall is seen gazing out over a river as his bodyguard Colin (Scott Nicholson) keeps watch behind him. It then cuts to black and the credits roll.

Last shot of Jeremy Strong’s Kendall in ‘Succession’

The poignant moment takes place immediately after the board votes to replace him as the company’s CEO, stripping him of his life’s purpose.

“The water was calling to me,” Strong told Vanity Fair in an earlier interview. “I tried to go into the water after we cut – I got up from that bench and went as fast as I could over the barrier and onto the pilings, and the actor playing Colin raced over.

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“I didn’t know I was gonna do that, and he didn’t know, but he raced over and stopped me. I don’t know whether in that moment I felt that Kendall just wanted to die – I think he did – or if he wanted to be saved by essentially a proxy of his father.”

He said: “To me, what happens at the board vote is an extinction-level event for this character. There’s no coming back from that.”

The shot of Kendall looking out over the river was a “much stronger ending philosophically” than him jumping in the water, Strong said, adding that “Kendall is trapped in this sort of silent scream”.

Read a full recap of the brilliant series finale here.

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