How Will Smith Influenced Jeremy Strong’s ‘Succession’ Season 4 Performance

How Will Smith Influenced Jeremy Strong’s ‘Succession’ Season 4 Performance
Mar 2023


TV Insider's Top 25 of the Week (March 20-26): 'Succession,' 'Yellowjackets' & More'Succession's Nicholas Braun Talks Emmys Bromance With Mathew Macfadyen

Succession Season 4 may be setting the stage for an epic battle between Roy family patriarch Logan (Brian Cox) and his three kids, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin), but the ongoing power struggle between dad and his second-eldest son Ken has remained a constant since the show's 2018 debut.

At the end of Season 3, Kendall proved himself to be the "killer" Logan didn't necessarily consider him capable of being. In an attempt to halt a sale to GoJo, Kendall recruited his sister and brother to use their voting stake to halt the deal, but in a devastating twist, Logan outsmarted his offspring. Pulling the rug from under them, Logan reworks his divorce agreement with their mother to shut out their potential for disrupting the deal.

The blow falters the Roy kids' footing, but Season 4 teases a rebound as Kendall, Shiv, and Roman present a united front against Logan. Having revealed his darkest moment to his siblings in the Season 3 finale -- Kendall's misdeed of leaving behind a caterer in a sinking car at the end of Season 1 and getting Logan to hide the reality of this civilian's death -- may have made Kendall feel less burdened by the weight of the secret, but it's still an underlying truth in his life.

How Will Smith Influenced Jeremy Strong’s ‘Succession’ Season 4 Performance

(Credit: Claudette Barius/HBO)

This makes us wonder, will Kendall ever have to face the consequences of those actions? Strong tells us, "You know, there were many times where I advocated to Jesse, the thing that you're talking about, this thing that's lurking in the shadows. You know, I thought about Will Smith sometimes in this sort of zenith moment of life and the way that the shadow can sort of come and knock on your door and unseat you," Strong adds, seemingly referencing Smith's infamous Oscars slap, and the backlash that followed.

"So that's always happening to Kendall," the actor continues. "I think Jesse [Armstrong] is a more sophisticated writer than I would be. So I think Jesse feels like the way the world works is things don't always come back around. People actually just get away with things, but you don't get away with anything karmically psychologically, internally. You are haunted by things and hunted by your own internal demons."

That brings into question, have we seen Kendall at rock bottom? He seemingly surrendered to the idea of death in Season 3, raising alarms from his family who realized he may be suicidal. While Strong couldn't get specific, he shares, "I guess I would say one would hope that there's no lower you could go or there's no more you could lose. But historically this show... if there's a limbo pole on how low can Kendall go... It gets rough."

"Wouldn't it be great if Season 4 was just like we're all happy and like spraying each other like in Zoolander at the gas station and everybody gets what they want. But no," the actor says, hinting that's not the reality of the Roy family. See how their reality unfolds when Succession Season 4 arrives on HBO and HBO Max.

Succession, Season 4 Premiere, Sunday, March 26, 9/8c, HBO and HBO Max