It’s hard to imagine Succession without J. Smith-Cameron’s stoic and sexually tinged presence as Waystar Royco’s corporate chief counsel, Gerri Kellman. With the HBO drama’s return this Sunday, many are looking forward to the return of the twisted (yet hot) relationship between Gerri and the youngest Roy, Roman (Kieran Culkin).
However, in a recent interview with Bustle, Smith-Cameron reveals the part of Gerri was originally intended for a man. Not only that, but she was dealing with her late mother’s illness, taking time off in Kentucky for her subsequent memorial. Despite these obstacles, Smith-Cameron sent in a self-tape anyway. Thank heavens she did.
“I was like, ‘Listen. I would love to do the part, but I’m not coming back right away.’ I really thought that was it,” she says. “But then they somehow picked me up.”
The show’s all the better for it, as Smith-Cameron’s performance as Gerri has given an extra layer to the power dynamics of the Roy family. She would change the intended trajectory for Gerri more than once, as it was her and Culkin’s onset chemistry and flirting that pushed their onscreen relationship in its sexual direction, as perfectly depicted in this red carpet interview with Variety from yesterday’s season premiere.
As the show’s progressed, Smith-Cameron’s Gerri has moved from the outskirts to one of the main players in the show. In this season’s promo images, she’s the only non-Roy family member teased, standing over Roman with her fingers holding gently onto his collar.
Gerri’s unexpectedly added lust in a show that’s otherwise devoid of sexual desire. She’s proven likable amongst the show’s cast of diabolical characters, while still maintaining a certain mischievousness and edge. It’s nearly impossible to imagine what would have become of Gerri if she was played by a man as was intended. What a dark timeline to think about.
The third season of Succession premieres this Sunday, October 17.