Jeremy Strong Says Kendall’s ‘Succession’ Ending Was Almost Bleaker: ‘There’s No Coming Back From This’

If you thought what actually aired was dark…

succession-jeremy-strong-hbo
Jeremy Strong in a still from "Succession." (HBO)

If you watched last night’s devastating series finale of “Succession,” you know that things didn’t exactly play out like Kendall Roy (played masterfully by Jeremy Strong) had hoped. And now the actor is shedding light on how things could have been even darker than what ended up in the episode, telling Kara Swisher on the official “Succession” podcast: “It always to me felt like there’s no coming back from this.”

Spoilers for the “Succession” series finale follow.

In the final moments of the episode, Kendall, having lost the bid to block the sale to tech weirdo Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) and all chances of leading the company that his father had once promised him, sits alone, dejected, in a public park, looking out against the slate grey water. The only person with him is Colin (Scott Nicholson), his father’s former driver and now his employee. He is a man alone, with nothing. The only person with him is on his payroll. It’s pretty bleak. But it could have been bleaker.

When Swisher said that it looked like Kendall was going to jump, Strong confirms that he did play it that way at least once. “I looked at these waves. And it was so windy that day, and so cold. And there was some piece of metal clanging and it was this terrible sound. And I sort of couldn’t bear it,” Strong said. “I stood up and walked slowly to the barrier that was set up there and climbed over it. And I didn’t really know what I plan to do. And the actor playing Colin saw me and ran and stopped me from doing it.”

Strong acknowledges that the version in the episode is better (and that creator Jesse Armstrong’s script never had him going over). But Strong also says that he wanted to make sure he was playing it like him going over the side was a possibility.

“I mean, I’m sure Jesse’s choice is better. And in a way I think you see the intentionality in the character. I mean, you said you felt like he was going to go in. And I did. I tried to,” Strong said.

Later, Strong summed up his feelings about where his character ended up: “It’s a completely tragic ending, from my perspective.” But the actor acknowledges that there could have been room for hopefulness, at least in the script: “I think that Jesse maybe intended that in the writing, this sense that Kendall has lost, but maybe he’s free. And maybe he’s going to keep walking,” Strong said. “I guess I felt with everything in my body that there is no coming back from this.”