Matthew Macfadyen hasn’t even seen the second season finale of “Succession” yet, but says he wasn’t surprised by how it ended when he read the script. Over the course of the series, Macfadyen’s character Tom has suffered at the expense of the Roy family on personal and professional levels. Will he turn a new leaf in Season 3? Variety spoke with Macfadyen about the state of his on-screen marriage, Tom’s current footing at ATN, and that chicken power play.
So Tom is safe!
Tom seems to be safe.
Were you surprised by that?
I was sort of thinking it was going to be Kendall, but then it was, and then it wasn’t, and then it was sort of that wonderful twist at the end.
That twist was a long time coming.
Yeah, it’s sort of beautifully set up now. Although, I haven’t seen it yet. This is just from reading the script. I can’t wait to watch the final thing.
Shiv throws Tom under the bus, and then Tom says that devastating line, “I wonder if the sad I’d be without you is more than the sad I am with you.” Has their marriage fundamentally shifted?
There has been a series of pretty brutal letdowns from Shiv to Tom over the course of the series. That was probably the most public and most damning one. Because even though they’ve been through ups and downs, it’s that thing that they’re a team, they’ve got a plan, the plan of how to do the next 10 years, and that has totally rocked for him.
Let’s talk about plucking the chicken off Logan Roy’s plate.
It was all scripted. No improvisation. Although I did take a very, very, large piece of chicken, a bit of chicken breast, in fact, on the first take and I stuffed so much in my mouth I couldn’t speak. Brian and I got terrible, terrible giggles. Almost irretrievable giggles. That was the first take and then from then on, I just grabbed a bit of drumstick.
I heard from Brian Cox that a scene where Tom second guesses himself was cut. Do you think the framing around Tom will be more powerful as we head into the next season?
I know what Brian is referring to because there was a sort of, comedown scene after that chicken incident. I don’t think for a minute that he planned the chicken thing. The chicken power play. I think he just did it. I think it’s a demented way of fighting for his skin in the family, in the business.
How is Tom affected by Kendall’s betrayal of Logan?
From what I remember from the episode, Greg gets sort of with Kendall now, is that right? That’s a peculiar thing, certainly to Tom. This is it. This is my worry. The Greggs have already been broken to create the Tomelette. That will be very interesting to see how it plays out.
There is a huge political component in the show. What do you think of the upcoming 2020 election in America?
We did the table read of the pilot in 2016 on Election Day. On the morning of election night. It felt really peculiar to be doing a show about these very wealthy, aggressive, strange, and preposterous people at that time. And then, of course the election happened and Donald Trump won the election and everything sort of shifted a little bit. Or it felt like it did. It’s really interesting to be doing a show like this, now. So much of the media is controlled by so few people, and the idea that one family can own hundreds of news channels and therefore spin a certain line, and that’s how most people get their news, their politics, what they think about the world.
Look at the headlines during the title sequence!
Yeah, “Gender Fluid Illegals Enter Country Twice.” Some of the ones they snuck in on the ATN news channel in the background scenes… Very clever people have screen grabbed them, the very funny, right-wing news headlines.
As someone who has done quite a bit of Shakespeare in their career, what Shakespearean elements does “Succession” have?
It’s very Shakespearean. “King Lear” springs to mind. It’s quite Greek. I think all family dramas are, really. In terms of the father, power, money, love, the absence of love, jealousy, violence, all that stuff. All that good stuff.
What role does Tom play? The comedic relief, or something more?
I think there’s something more.