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‘Succession’ Star Sarah Snook on Shiv’s Roller Coaster Season and the Cast’s Real-Life Relationship

Also on the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast: "Succession" and "Don't Look Up" composer Nicholas Britell.

Sarah Snook attending the Succession Premiere
Sipa USA via AP

On HBO’s “Succession,” Shiv Roy, as played by Sarah Snook, has experienced a bit of a roller coaster this season as she struggled to remain in her father’s inner circle. While media baron Logan Roy has declared war on his son Kendall, who is also on the outs with his siblings, Shiv suddenly finds herself upstaged by younger brother Roman.

But then came the season’s penultimate episode on Sunday, when Roman’s creepy obsession with company CEO Gerri is made public — and suddenly Shiv has a new tool at her disposal to get back in. In the episode, Shiv exchanges monumental moments with Gerri, as well as her husband Tom — whom she doesn’t love but does love — and her absentee mother. It’s quite an insight into who Shiv is and how she became the way she is.

With the Season 3 finale of “Succession” airing this Sunday, Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast spoke with Snook about Shiv’s tumultuous times, the relationships between the siblings — as well as the real-life actors who portray the Roys — and what she hopes happens next. We began by discussing what it was like to get back to “Succession” after the pandemic delayed production for nearly a year. Listen below:

“My fear coming out of season two, which was so well received, to shoot Season 3 was that there would be this kind of sense of awareness,” Snook says. “But in a weird way, because of the pandemic, because of the restrictions we had with COVID, we had an obstacle. And so we had something to overcome together. And I think that really helped us as a team to band closer together and bind us in a way to to create something that we’re proud of.”

As for the status of Shiv, “she’s having to be okay with volatility. Coming back into the family business, I think she knew that that’s what was gonna happen. But having it feel so disorienting has been the fun part to play as an actor.”

Snook also discusses Shiv’s tense relationship with her husband Tom (“I may not love you, but I do love you”); the chess game she plays with CEO Gerri when she suddenly sees a vulnerability she can exploit in episode 8; and of course, the nasty relationship between the three Roy siblings.

And yes, we broach the chatter over the recent New Yorker profile of her co-star Jeremy Strong. “Jeremy is great,” Snook says. “He is a very singular, unique person and actor and he works in a different way than then other people. We all work in different ways. We all have a different process.”

Speaking of “Succession,” composer Nicholas Britell won an Emmy for the main title theme music and has composed the score since the show’s pilot. (Yes, he had a hand in that infamous “L to the OG” rap, as well.)

Though Britell is an Oscar nominated composer who works regularly with Adam McKay and Barry Jenkins, he acknowledges the “Succession” song is a whole other level. Asked why the music has become so popular, Britell isn’t sure himself. “I think it’s this intersection of different tones at once – it’s almost too big for itself, in certain ways,” he says. “I purposely mix it wrong, the bass is much too big and the drums are too big and the strings are a little out of tune and the piano’s a little out of tune and everything’s a little bit like, ‘What?’”

On the film side, Britell is the composer of McKay’s latest film, “Don’t Look Up,” a satirical comedy about a comet on path to destroy the Earth and how two low-level astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) can’t seem to get anyone to care. In addition to scoring the film, Britell is responsible for one of the film’s funniest moments, where pop stars (played by Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi) sing “Just Look Up,” urging people to trust their own eyes. Britell co-wrote the song with Grande, Cudi and Taura Stinson and he details the collaboration that went into penning a hilarious tune that is also genuinely catchy.

Britell spoke to Variety’s Jenelle Riley about all of that, discusses how Natalie Portman helped launched his career, the upcoming film of “Carmen,” and some of his favorite “Succession” parody lyrics.

Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast is hosted by Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Jenelle Riley and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in movies. Michael Schneider is the producer and Drew Griffith edits. Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every week.