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Macall Polay/HBO Succession
Sanaa Lathan almost turned down the opportunity to join the cast of Succession for its third season, which premieres Oct. 17. "It was interesting, because I had heard about the show, obviously, but I hadn't watched it," says actress, whose credits include the films Love & Basketball and Now You See Me 2. "It was an offer. It was in the fall of 2020. It was still that scary pandemic time and I hadn't traveled. I had to leave L.A. and go to New York and I said to myself, 'I don't know if I'm going to do this.' And then I did my homework and watched the first season and the second season in three days because I was so obsessed, and I said, 'I have to be a part of this.'"
Lathan talks more about working on the show (and why starring in a certain horror movie helped her performance) below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Who do you play on Succession?
SANAA LATHAN: I play Lisa Arthur, a high-powered, very well-connected star lawyer. She's one of those lawyers who takes up causes that get her in front of the camera. She gets involved [with the Roy family].
How does that happen?
I don't know, I don't want to get in trouble! [Laughs] They're like a vault. Succession, they're like a vault over there, they don't want you to reveal anything! Definitely, she does get involved, but if I told a lot I'd probably have to go to jail or something.
Well, we wouldn't want that. The show features a lot of improvisation. Is that something you were encouraged to do?
Yes. That's part of their whole system. It's so well written that you don't have to do the improv, but they always give you a take where you can. It's scary-slash-thrilling, but sometimes really great stuff comes out of it. The writing gives you a great springboard to come up with ideas. I wouldn't necessarily want to improvise if the writing was s---.
You starred in 2004's Alien vs. Predator as the extraterrestrial-battling heroine Lex. Did that prepare you for dealing with the monstrous characters you encounter on Succession?
[Laughs] Yes, it did. Slaying that alien f---ing creature definitely gave me some skills to handle some of these characters.
See the new trailer for Succession and an exclusive image of Lathan on the show above.
For more from our Fall TV Preview, order the October issue of Entertainment Weekly or find it on newsstands beginning Sept. 17. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.