Succession creator Jesse Armstrong initially feared the show might only get one season when it started – because it was such a ‘small’ show for HBO.
The corporate satire went on to become one of the most talked about global hits of the last decade, which the writer admits he could never have imagined when they started work on it in 2016.
He said: “We had some good things going for us to lift us out of just being a tiny indie ‘hit and hope’ show. Adam McKay who had just done The Big Short came on to direct it and then we got Brian Cox.
“It was a relatively small show in the HBO firmament and it felt very possible that we might only have one season. I couldn’t imagine how it ended it all.”
The fourth and final season of the HBO series, screened in the UK on Sky Atlantic, came to a gripping conclusion earlier this year to widespread acclaim and record viewing figures.
Succession followed the battles of fictional US media mogul Logan Roy’s family as his children vied for control of his company, Waystar Royco.
Played by Scottish actor Brian Cox, Roy became one of the most iconic television characters of recent years, but Armstrong was unsure about the popularity of such an offensive character, renowned for his foul language and offensive behaviour.
Armstrong, who was also one of the lead writers for British political satire The Thick of It, featuring equally controversial character Malcolm Tucker, played by Peter Capaldi, admits he distances himself from the idolisation of the characters’ "awful" behaviour.
Speaking at a special event at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Armstrong said: “People like Malcolm Tucker it seems, and I don’t think that was the intention.
“It’s a difficult area and there are lots of ways of liking people. People like someone who takes control and has that force to a degree, and there’s a complicated relationship towards that sort of masculinity.
“It happened a lot with Logan Roy in Succession. People see something attractive about that version of masculinity.
“At a certain point as a writer and a creative person, you have to say ‘Whoa, I’m sorry, that’s not my issue. If you like Malcolm Tucker that’s your fault, not mine’,” he joked.
“When we talk about Logan Roy, with people venerating him, and Malcolm Tucker’s awful behaviour, I still think it’s useful as a culture to reflect back to yourself stuff in the culture.”
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The creator admitted he’s not working on any follow-up projects in the wake of Succession’s grand finale, as he is taking some time off to recover from the workload of running the show for the last four seasons.
He added: "It’s incredibly anxiety-provoking making every season and staring the writers’ room and getting more and more anxious to make it a good season. I’m really looking forward to not having that sensation for quite a while.”
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