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By taking the Murdoch family as its loose inspiration, Succession gave itself a difficult task. In post-Trump America, where politics is once again front and center (and the media at the center of that), the show was aiming squarely the zeitgeist; if it missed even by an inch, it would come off as a total whiff.
Two seasons in, and the show has proved itself more than capable of rising to the occasion. Succession's motley, Machiavellian crew, a mixture of potential Roy heirs and their hangers-on, has become one of television's best-ever ensemble casts. The critics agree: Succession is good.
HBO apparently thinks so, too. The premium cable channel greenlit a third season after just two episodes of its second had aired, and Succession fans couldn't be happier. Here's what we know about the show's third season.
The new season will premiere on October 17, 2021.
The show will begin its nine-episode season on October 17 at 9 p.m. EST, both airing on HBO and available to stream on HBO Max. Succession's Twitter account confirmed the news with a tweet.
In a press release from HBO, the upcoming season was summarized as follows: "Ambushed by his rebellious son Kendall at the end of Season two, Logan Roy begins Season three in a perilous position, scrambling to secure familial, political, and financial alliances. Tensions rise as a bitter corporate battle threatens to turn into a family civil war."
A 2021 release date, however, wasn't always a sure bet. Casey Bloys, chief content officer at HBO and HBO Max, previously told Deadline that in a "normal world," they'd be aiming for a fourth quarter release in 2021. "But that would mean we don’t get hit with any COVID delays," he noted. "A lot of that will depend on how the vaccine rolls out, how much a factor COVID is. It’s still very much a real thing in production at the moment, hopefully it gets easier to deal with. It’s hard to predict right now.”
HBO released two new teasers.
In a new video promoting season three of the award-winning drama, viewers get to see tensions rise as a bitter corporate battle boils into a family civil war, with Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) fighting to secure alliances. Setting the tone for the intense teaser, Kendall appears at the headquarters of the family firm Waystar Royco where he confronts his father, Siobhan Roy (Sarah Snook), Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin), and Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), exclaiming, “The revolution will be televised!” Between biting threats, we see the cutthroat siblings struggling to decide where their loyalties lie.
On September 17, HBO released another, longer trailer for season 3, which further illustrates the escalating drama within Waystar Royco and the Roy family.
Season three might be the show's second to last.
Though Succession fans certainly want the show to last forever, executive producer Georgia Pritchett recently shared that there is an end in sight. Though the exact end date of the series is unclear, Pritchett noted that fans can only expect one or two more seasons after the third.
“I think the maximum would be five seasons, but possibly more like four,” Pritchett told British outlet, The Times.
She also noted that showrunner Jesse Armstrong is starting to plot out how to wrap up the series. “We’re at the end of filming season three, so at this point [Armstrong] is saying only one more,” Pritchett said. However, she implied that Armstrong might stay for a fifth, noting that showrunners often stick around one season season longer than planned—"happens every time."
Whenever the show does end, the team is prepared for the finale. Pritchett shared that the Succession crew already has “a good end in sight.”
Alexander Skarsgard and Adrien Brody are joining the cast.
Skarsgard, best known for True Blood and Big Little Lies, is joining Succession in a reoccurring role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Skarsgard will play Lukas Matsson, "a successful, confrontational tech founder and CEO."
Skarsgard returns to HBO after winning an Emmy for his performance in Big Little Lies. He acted alongside Nicole Kidman, playing her character's abusive, violent husband.
Skarsgard is not the only new cast member joining season three. Per Deadline, Oscar-winner Adrien Brody will guest star this season. He's slated to play Josh Aaronson, "a billionaire activist investor who becomes pivotal in the battle for the ownership of Waystar." Waystar, of course, is the Roy family's media and hospitality empire.
Aside from Skarsgard and Brody, there are even more actors joining the Succession cast. According to Deadline, Hope Davis signed on to play Sandi Furness, the daughter of Logan's rival Sandy Furness (Larry Pine). Also per Deadline, Sanaa Lathan has been tapped to play Lisa Arthur, a high-profile New York lawyer, while Linda Emond will portray senior White House aide Michelle-Anne Vanderhoven, and Jihae will take on the role of leading public relations consultant Berry Schneider.
Production was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
HBO announced that the show would be delayed in mid-March, when it was still in pre-production. In August 2020, showrunner Jesse Armstrong told Variety that there a tentative plans to begin shooting before Christmas—but it's far from a sure bet. While they are "trying to think about starting shooting in New York before Christmas," the plans are still "just conversations." He added, "Who knows if that’ll come about, but that’s the plan at the moment."
Production resumed in New York in January 2021. Bloys admitted to Deadline that the team had considered filming in Los Angeles, but ended up favoring the East Coast. “At one point, we thought we should shoot Succession in Los Angeles because Los Angeles looked like, at the time, a safer place to shoot than New York, then Los Angles looked really bad and New York looked better in comparison,” he said.
In late March 2021, Nicholas Braun aka Cousin Greg posted a photo on his Instagram, which appears to be a hint of what's to come.
Posing in a suit in front of a Waystar Royco sign, Braun cryptically wrote in the caption: "I am an employee of this company, and that’s about all I can say about that!"
Cox said he was the first actor to know what happens this season.
"I nearly fell off my chair because [Armstrong] never tells you about the next series. We never knew from episode to episode what was going to happen," Cox told the Hollywood Reporter, adding that he'd first told the showrunner that he'd rather not know. "But then he told me. And it's jolly thrilling. That's all I can say." As for his fellow cast members, "They will, never, never, never know until we start [production]," Cox said.
The pandemic will not be featured on the show.
The series's fans are used to seeing some ripped-from-the-headlines events addressed in the show, but the Covid pandemic will not be featured. Armstrong told New York Magazine that he decided early on that the new season will not incorporate the pandemic.
"These are really wealthy people," Snook told New York. "And unfortunately, none of the world’s really wealthy people were going to be affected by the pandemic."
The cast and creators have dropped some hints about what's to come.
Recently, New York noted that the third season picks up right where the second ended—"Kendall has just delivered his blow, Logan is still in charge of Waystar Royco, and there’s a shareholder revolt on the horizon." When the season begins, "Kendall fancies himself the leading man of some kind of resistance," but, in typical Succession fashion, "no one really changes."
Succession writer Lucy Prebble told Deadline in November that "there are also a lot of talks about going more international than we’ve gone before, which is to do with the relationship between the media industry and international countries," Prebble added. "The way international countries input, control and fund the media in ways that aren’t talked about as clearly as they should be."
Previously, Brian Cox, the actor behind Succession's media magnate-slash-terrible father Logan Roy, confirmed fans' suspicions about the season two finale to Deadline. He confirmed that Logan smirked while watching Kendall turn on him, because Logan knows "the boy has finally grown up. He’s finally taking some kind of positive action."
Cox explained, "Logan’s always known that Kendall was a treacherous shit. In a way, he isn’t judging him. There’s some validation of what’s happened. Logan accepts that."
Where will the father and son go from here? Cox promised that there are "a lot of fireworks to come" between Logan and Kendall—and perhaps another of Logan's children, too. "I’m fascinated to see how young Roman comes into play," Cox said. "He showed his mettle at the end of season tw0. I think he’s the hidden gun under the table."
The season's final two episodes will be set in Tuscany.
"I don’t know how much of a social signifier it is to Americans—anybody who can go abroad is really rich—but [Tuscany] has this particular flavor for the English upper class," Armstrong said. "Some call it Chiantishire in a slightly sickening way."
HBO announced the series was renewed in August 2019.
"We are elated that Succession and its exploration of wealth, power and family has resonated so powerfully with audiences," said HBO EVP Francesca Orsi, per the Hollywood Reporter.
"We cannot wait to see how the complex characters that Jesse Armstrong has created continue to navigate this captivating, ruthless world of the uber-rich," Orsi added. "In today's world where the intersection of politics and media is increasingly prevalent, Succession presents an especially piercing look behind the curtain of this elite, influential, and cutthroat community."
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