SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched the fourth episode of “Succession” Season 3, titled “Lion in the Meadow.”
The fourth episode of Season 3 of “Succession” introduces fans to Josh Aaronson, a beanie-wearing, billionaire investor, played by Adrien Brody, who holds the power to flip control of Waystar Royco after a tense meeting with Kendall and Logan Roy.
This episode, titled “Lion in the Meadow,” ends with Kendall (Jeremy Strong) leaving the botched meeting and helplessly looking on as Josh warmly greets Stewy Hosseini (Adrian Moayed), who’s vying for control of Waystar with Sandy Furness (Hope Davis). Roman (Kieran Culkin) calls his brother and tells him that Josh has “zero faith” in the company after the awkward meeting ended with Logan (Brian Cox) getting heat exhaustion from walking outside. With the looming shareholder summit, all hope to control the family company seems to be lost for the Roys.
Or does it? Brody tells Variety that the final seconds of the episode are purposely open to interpretation.
“The joy of this is there’s a lot of room to interpret things,” he says. “The way I tried to portray Josh is that he’s got a big stake, a lot of skin in the game, and he’s not one to acquiesce. He’s going to determine if he can stay the course or what the other alternatives are. I think he’s simultaneously exploring all the options.”
Here, Brody talks to Variety about the real-life inspirations for the role, Josh’s outdoorsy clothes and his strategic negotiation tactics.
How did you first hear about the role?
I was in talks with Adam McKay about signing up to do his Lakers project for HBO, and as we were getting ready for me to do that, this came about. They said, “We have an interesting bit for you on ‘Succession.’ Would you like to come join us on that?” I was elated to hear that. It was already a strong part, and we spoke about it and I had some thoughts based on some ideas of people I’ve encountered in my lifetime.
Who were some of the people you based Josh on?
I’m not one to name names, but it was an amalgamation of a number of people I’ve encountered. It bleeds into some very strong people that I’ve known — a personality that I’ve felt is both disarming and dangerous. Whether it’s metaphorically implied or physically dangerous or a combination, the threat is real. Josh is in a rare position to genuinely hold a level of authority and exude strength that is superior to Logan. He’s able to ascertain the fragility between the relationship of father and son and to put that to the test in this elaborate meeting that he’s constructed. Even though there’s a lot of levity in the depiction of it all, it’s a really deep and and well-thought game that Josh is embarking on.
What input did you have in the way Josh dressed?
Those were all based on the costume department and the creators being very collaborative with me. They had some initial musings about him being into foraging, and I loved that he was a much more present and youthful guy, in the sense that he’s very connected with the environment. He’s happy to wear a beanie, but it’s not just a fashion statement. He’s prepared for inclement weather in a way that they’re not prepared for and wouldn’t be prepared for, even if they knew they were going to go on a hike. He’s in his element, and I wanted that to be immediately tangible.
When Josh invites Kendall and Logan out on their walk, did he intentionally plan for Logan to get so exhausted?
I don’t think the extent of a medical incident was an intentional thing, but I do think creating challenges and exhausting them physically is a tactical move. Josh is far more prepared for the day’s activity than they are. That’s intentional: wearing multiple layers, having hiking boots, bringing two guys in suits expecting to sit down for a cup of coffee. He is ratcheting up the pressure. As for Logan’s condition, he’s looking to see how Kendall reacts to that and whether he’s caring for his father or not. He knows where things are headed and wants to know if there’s unity there or not. Logan not taking the smart decision for his own well-being, out of pride, provides insight into the potential self-destructive nature and blind spots by his ego or his need to project a sense of strength, even if he’s not feeling it. I think Josh is privy to all of that.
For once, Logan seems to open up honestly and tells Josh that he loves Kendall and that he’s the best one to lead Waystar Royco. Do you think Josh believed him?
Under the circumstances, there’s some truth to that. I think there’s a lot of half truths in all those discussions. Everything is being assessed and dissected. I think Josh also alludes to not necessarily loving Stewy and Sandy, but he’s gonna do what it takes. He puts it to them, he doesn’t conceal that.
Are we going to see more of Josh in Season 4?
I would love that. I don’t have an answer for you, but I sure would love that. I’m a big fan of the show, so that would be cool.
“Succession” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.