Succession season four: Brian Cox predicts 'contentious' ending to hit HBO drama

He plays ageing tycoon Logan Roy. And, although he's staying tight-lipped, he tells The National it won't be a happy ending for everyone

Brian Cox attends the premiere of HBO's Succession season four at Jazz at Lincoln Center. AP
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The previous season of Succession concluded with a crestfallen and disillusioned Logan Roy.

Warning: the following article contains spoilers.

Without spoiling too much, the patriarch of the Roy family — owners of one of the world’s leading media and entertainment conglomerates Waystar Royco — declared he’d rather see his company disintegrate than fall to the control of his children.

The final instalment of Succession will premiere regionally on OSN+ on Monday, releasing simultaneously with the US. The season begins with Logan fighting to “keep his mind and body together", says Brian Cox, who portrays the character in the HBO black comedy.

“He’s tried to find a successor from within his own family, and none of them have stepped up to the plate,” he says. “The potential of them is tremendous, but they are not leaders. None of them. They are avaricious. You cannot build anything on avarice. That’s the problem with them.”

Succession explores themes of power and relationship dynamics in a family of Machiavellian characters. The new season unfolds as the sale of Waystar Royco to tech visionary Lukas Matsson moves closer. The prospect of this deal and the fulfilment of Roy’s destructive wish provoke existential angst and division among the family as they anticipate what their lives will look like once it is completed.

Of Logan's four adult children, he previously hoped daughter Siobhan (Sarah Snook) would replace him at the helm.

“I think he thought that she had the potential,” Cox says. “But then her morality is quite questionable, so she’s not viable.” He also says Logan's other children Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) showed promise but also were ultimately incapable of succeeding.

Despite what audiences think, Cox says Logan does love his children but in his own morphed way. In an appearance at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature last month, the Scottish actor said his character “never knew how to get love from his children". "He thought if he gives them stuff and keeps giving them, he'll get love back and it doesn’t work like that," he added.

Cox repeats the sentiment now, saying despite his actions, Logan is still trying to keep his family, as well as his company, together.

“He really is trying,” Cox says. “He’s had a lot of people around him [in the company] who are really as much his family. These are people that he’s hired and rehired, and they are people that he’s quite ruthless with. But they know where they are with him. They know they will be fired and then rehired. They know that’s what happens. That they’ll move them around like chess pieces.”

The tactic, Cox says, is a way of keeping people on their toes, and it is “doubly difficult” for the children.

“He is their father, and he feels a certain amount of — I don’t know if it’s guilt — but he has a little bit of a conscience about who they are, and how they develop.”

Satirical and with a prominent comedic trajectory, Succession is ultimately a cautionary tale with Shakespearean echoes. Cox, who has gained recognition for his portrayal of King Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre, compares the show with the plays he has acted in.

“It’s a modern statement,” he says. “When you have a show that's about succession and you have a play called King Lear, which is also about succession, and how he divides up his kingdom, there are natural crossovers.

"I hope audiences are satisfied with what happens. I think there will be contention about what happens. I'm not going to tell you what happens. Because actually, to be honest, I don't really know what happens."

When it comes to his own parenting approach, he has a much more lenient approach. He says he doesn’t particularly think of himself as a "good father” but has always sought to encourage his children to make their own choices.

“I’ve never believed in all those concepts of setting borders, setting barriers, which ultimately, for me, is negative," he adds. "It’s not actually encouraging the child. That’s my thing, but also my father died when I was eight. My own father is a mythic person, and that sort of sits on my shoulder. I wish he wasn’t so mythic. I wish he had feet of clay but he didn’t.”

Succession season four begins on Monday on OSN+

Updated: March 23, 2023, 7:20 AM