Sarah Snook Reveals Succession Season 2 Changes and How Ivanka Trump Influenced Her Role

Succession star Sarah Snook tells E! News what's in store in season 2, including more screen time for female characters, and how Shiv Roy channels Ivanka Trump

By Ashley Spencer Jan 24, 2019 2:15 AMTags
Sarah Snook, SuccessionHBO

Sarah Snook is back in the New York groove.

The 31-year-old Australian actor, who racked up notable roles in The Dressmaker, Predestination and Black Mirror before receiving global recognition for her turn as Siobhan "Shiv" Roy on Succession, began filming season 2 of the hit drama this week.

"I brought a packet of Tim Tams with me as housewarming gift," she tells E! News of settling into her New York apartment where she now lives with two of her best mates from Australia.

Since Succession premiered on HBO last June and came to Foxtel that December, the series—which follows the very rich and very flawed offspring of fictional New York media mogul Logan Roy—quickly found a cult following and earned Critics' Choice and Golden Globe nominations.

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"When I found out I got the role, it was unbelievable and kind of confusing," Adelaide-raised Snook tells E! News. "I thought they were really interested in me but were probably chasing someone else when I auditioned. So, it was great because I didn't put any pressure on myself. I was just happy to be there in the room and in L.A. at the time."

As the overprivileged daughter of a corrupt corporate titan, Shiv is (as her nickname suggests) acerbic and calculating as she forges her own path into politics. And it's fitting that the cast, which also includes Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Alan Ruck, did their first read-through of a show about power and wealth in America on the night of the 2016 presidential election.

"Everything since then has been a very strange time in the world," she says. "It's interesting to be sort of smack bang in the middle of that on a show that's not a reality but is rooted in some of the not so savoury parts of how society operates at the moment."

Snook spoke to E! News from New York about Succession season 2, the cast's off-screen dynamic and her take on a shocking fan theory.


Is it like a big family reunion having everyone back on set?

Totally. Just for the read-through the other day, it was like, oh, my brothers! We all have a very sibling relationship similar to our characters. Except Nick [Nicholas Braun, who plays Cousin Greg] is in the family more, and Matthew [MacFadyen] is nothing like his character, Tom. Each of us are similar to our characters but turned up 1000 percent. Kieran [Culkin, who plays Roman]'s a funny guy. He'll always be making jokes and he's very smart, very witty. It's one of the joys of doing the job is that we all get along so well.

Do you know what's in store for Shiv this season?

No, it's a bit of a mystery. I could ask, I guess, and they might tell me. But with the first season, I got used to the fact that I didn't know what was going to happen to Shiv, and I kind of liked that. [Creator Jesse Armstrong and his team] have been in the writers' room since July. Their style seems to be getting a clear picture of what they want to happen and then as it unfolds fill in the dots.

I feel like we were only just starting to see new layers of Shiv toward the end of season 1. Can we expect to discover more of her vulnerabilities in season 2?

I think we'll get a good mix of both—seeing the real power of what Shiv is and, because of that, you might see some vulnerabilities, as well. I think the thing that interested me about the character is that she seems so strong and put together but that oftentimes belies a really vulnerable person on the other side of that. I'm interested to see what happens.

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You are the central female role on this show. Do you sometimes wish Shiv had a sister or some more female energy around?

For sure. There was a bit of a push in that direction at the beginning of the first season, where most of Shiv's colleagues working in the political sector were women. I had some great scenes with them, but for the narrative push, it wasn't necessary then. So, I'm looking forward to seeing what they'll do this season. I don't necessarily need some sort of long-lost sister—a half-sister would be kind of cool—but that's the thing isn't it? Often times as a female character you don't get to do scenes with other females.

Do you think there will be more of a focus on female roles and screen time in season 2?

I think so. J. Smith-Cameron [Gerri] was a guest in season 1, and she's been made a regular in season 2. And Dagmara Dominczyk, who plays Karolina, has been made a season regular, as well, which I'm excited about. They're two wonderful actresses and have great roles that some very interesting storylines can come out of, I think. 

How much did you study corporate daughters like Ivanka Trump when you were researching the role?

That was actually the brief: "Think: Ivanka Trump." I think that was to be more of a ballpark, like here's the daughter of a wealthy businessman who seems to be her own person and independent, and what does that entail? It could be any daughter from any dynastic power family, but the daughters in particular who have made something of their own and of themselves, like Shari Redstone.


Succession requires you to do a lot of improvising in an American accent. Have there been times when Australian phrases or tendencies come out?

Oh yeah. I did one the other day where the line was "clever ward" or something, and just the vowels are a complete reverse. I just couldn't—my brain just went, nope, not gonna say it. And there are some things when you're improvising, like even basic stuff like "the trash can" instead of "the rubbish bin" where you think you're doing a really good job and they're like, what does that even mean? It's just getting the right vernacular down and an understanding in my head.

Ashley Zuckerman, who plays Nate, Shiv's man on the side, is also an Aussie. Did you two form a bond on set?

We did. I'm so proud of him for getting the role. It was like, hey man! Come and play. We'd known each other beforehand through friends but had never worked together before. It was really fun getting to work with him and get some advice because he's been living over in the States for much longer than I have. It's nice having someone else from my corner of the world.


This show makes being rich look like a pretty raw deal. Does it make you glad you weren't born into that society?

Oh my god, it would be the worst. These people have never, ever really had to be concerned with matters of survival, like where their next meal is coming from or if they've got somewhere to sleep tonight. If you're freed up from those matters of survival then you get to think about other things, but if you're not a good person then you just don't. Not to say that these people aren't good people because they're very flawed people and they do very bad things, but I think in that situation you may have to work very hard to learn empathy and humanity for the rest of the world because it is such a bizarre bubble-like way to grow up.

Season 1 ended with Kendall involved in a car crash that killed a waiter on Shiv's wedding night. There's a Twitter theory that Logan is going to frame Nate for that death to protect Kendall...

Whoa, oh my god. That's really interesting. That's such a great idea. I love that there are fan theories. I guess I can't comment, but that's a f--king cool idea.

Succession season 1 is streaming now on Foxtel On Demand.