Fake scenes, improvizations, and one-shot takes led up to Succession's big reveal

Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, and Kieran Culkin in Succession season 4
(Image credit: HBO)

This week's episode of Succession was an emotional one, to put it lightly. It turns out that one of the episode's mosy poignant moments was improvized, according to episode director Mark Mylod, who had a few other interesting snippets to reveal in a post-episode debrief. 

As you might expect, there are major spoilers for Succession season 4 episode 3 ahead, so proceed with caution! 

J. Smith Cameron and Kieran Culkin in Succession season 4

(Image credit: HBO)

Of course, the death of Roy patriarch Logan (Brian Cox) was the big shocker in the episode, but other moments also got viewers talking, including a hug between the three Roy siblings in the aftermath of their father's passing. In fact, the embrace between Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) wasn't actually in the script. "They just fell into each other there, which was just gorgeous," episode director Mark Mylod told Variety

He added: "And then the separation of the three characters, Sarah going that way, and Shiv wanting or needing the support of Tom in that moment, despite everything. Roman feeling the need to go on to the plane to see his father’s body, and leaving Kendall alone there – I found that tremendously poignant. That was an incredibly busy day shooting. But it was very, very emotional for all of us."

Keeping a major character death under wraps is no mean feat, and the team behind the scenes went to great lengths to keep Logan's demise a secret. "We’d already put into motion an idea: that in order to try to preserve the secret of this episode, that Brian would be around for subsequent episodes," Mylod explained. "And would even appear in a much later episode, so that we would see him down the line, and hopefully try to head off rumors that the character had died… The stuff in a subsequent episode, we basically bring him on to shoot dummy scenes – scenes that didn't actually exist. As a misdirect."

Executive producer Georgia Pritchett revealed that things were kept on the down-low even in the writers' room, with the show's writers using a code to refer to Logan's death. "This was a tough secret to keep! We decided it in the Succession writers' room in Jan 22," she tweeted. "So nobody found out we used code on the whiteboards. Larry David meant Logan Dies. So episode 403 said Connor's Wedding, Larry David. Mind you, that would also have been a great episode."

Succession season 4 airs weekly on HBO and Sky – make sure you never miss an episode with our Succession season 4 release schedule.

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.