Why Succession's Sarah Snook First Turned Down Her Role as Shiv

Sarah Snook and J. Smith-Cameron discussed how their Succession characters Shiv and Gerri are influenced by wealth and privilege in Jesse Armstrong's HBO series.

By Cydney Contreras Jun 10, 2022 2:51 PMTags
Watch: Kieran Culkin Talks "Succession" at 2022 SAG Awards

It's hard to imagine a world in which Succession's Sarah Snook didn't play Shiv Roy, but it almost happened.

As it turns out, the Australian actress shared that she initially turned down the opportunity to star in the HBO series. Why? Because of the misogynistic nature of the business world the show was replicating. "If the world is going to be interested in a bunch of white dudes talking about business," she explained to Variety, "and if I'm the only woman in that, then I'm likely to get sidelined and be like some sort of prop."

Of course, Snook ultimately (and thankfully) changed her mind, putting her trust in writer Jesse Armstrong. Sarah told herself, "You may be one of the only women in the pilot, but that doesn't mean that you're going to get sidelined necessarily and maybe this is an opportunity for you to just fight for female characters."

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It's a concern that her co-star J. Smith-Cameron, who plays Gerri, had too. The business world is "raunchy, disgusting and full of deliberate chicanery," Smith-Cameron told Variety. "It's like being in a pack of thieves. It's not just being in a boys' world, it's like being in a pirate ship."

Macall B. Polay/HBO

They set sail anyway. "There is so much sexism and so much misogyny against you just having an opinion because you're a woman," Snook added. "It's so frustrating but brilliant to play with and chew on."

Snook had the added challenge of depicting how privilege shaped Shiv's view of herself. "Because she is wealthy and because she is entitled and because of all these circumstances of her birth, she feels the right to be anywhere," she said. "That's a really important distinction, often women can come into a room and feel like they're not necessarily meant to be there but if you just pretend you are and you feel like you are meant to be and for Shiv, that's like the circumstance of her l family and upbringing."

As for that season three finale and what comes next after Logan Roy (Brian Cox) turned her own husband, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), against her, well they don't even know. As Snook put it, "She's just in free fall."

Until season four, fans can catch on all episodes of Succession on HBO Max.

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