Any and all viewers who didn’t once feel abreast of Succession’s next moves during its fourth and final season, rest assured: Kieran Culkin was just like you once. In a new conversation with Claire Danes for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Culkin explains that Succession showrunner Jesse Armstrong kept the entire cast guessing about where the show might head next by throwing out multiple ideas for different seasons as red herrings.
“He told me before the season started that he thinks this is the end, but he doesn’t know. I’d actually stopped asking what was coming later. And that was the thing: I liked it. I liked not knowing!” Culkin recalls. “Then this year, he mentioned that it might be the end before we started shooting, so I started asking him questions. He told me what happens with Logan, and I asked him to break down everything. And he explained the entire season to me. And then when he got to the end, I said, “Well, that seems like that’s the end of the show.” And he goes, ‘Yeah, it does, doesn’t it? Although …’ And then he just started talking about all these different ideas off the top of his head.”
Culkin continues: “He was like, ‘This is just off the top of my head.’ And then he just pitched an amazing fifth season and then another and another.”
Armstrong’s skillful diversion tactics meant that the cast and crew were left divided over when and how the series would actually end.
“[Armstrong] kept us guessing the whole time,” Culkin says. “There were some of us that were so sure that there was not going to be another season. Sarah Snook, the entire time, until the very end was like, ‘There’s going to be a fifth season.’ And had very clear ideas on what it was. And it was after the table read for the final episode, he told us.”
Snook has previously spoken about learning of Succession’s end at a table read, which she said left her with “a huge sense of loss, disappointment and sadness.”
“It would have been nice to know at the beginning of the season, but I also understand not being told until the end because there was still a potential that maybe this wasn’t going to be the end,” Snook told The Los Angeles Times in March.