‘Succession’: Jeremy Strong Had Buckets of Ice Poured Over His Head For 1 of Kendall Roy’s Most Pivotal Scenes

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Season 1 of ‘Succession’ ended with Jeremy Strong’s Kendall Roy escaping a drug-fueled car wreck
  • Strong admits that when he read the script for the finale he felt a ‘terrible sense of dread’
  • The ‘Succession’ star asked for ice cold water to be poured over his head to make the scene more real
Succession star Jeremy Strong in an image from season 2 episode 7 which aired on September 5, 2019
Jeremy Strong on ‘Succession’ | Graeme Hunter/HBO

Succession season 1 ended with Jeremy Strong’s Kendall Roy really going through it. The final episode of the freshman season featured a shocking late-night car crash, with Kendall escaping from a lake.

As Strong read the script, he says he felt “a terrible sense of dread” about what he and his character would have to go through. But he decided to embrace the challenge.

To make things feel more real in one specific scene, Strong insisted on buckets of ice water being poured over his head.

Jeremy Strong had ‘no idea’ how he would get through the ‘Succession’ season 1 finale

Strong told IndieWire that he didn’t read the script for the season 1 finale until 48 hours before the final two episodes went into production. At a table read, he discovered Kendall’s fate. Which left the actor “very wrung out and kind of destroyed.”

“You sort of at that point want to get back on the plane and go home and avoid having to go through that. I think in truth, when they were reading those stage directions, I stopped looking at the script and closed my eyes,” Strong confessed.

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“But I remember very much being taken along, sort of like in the rapids once the car had gone in the water. But at the same time I had no idea how I would do it, or what it would take.”

He wanted to inhabit Kendall Roy’s skin

With limited time to prepare for the final episode that had the stakes so high for his character, Strong says that he had to connect viscerally. He had to inhabit Kendall’s skin so he could go “anywhere” with his performance.

“I think I felt ready to sort of go along for the ride and fight his fight,” Strong said. “Great writing sort of tumbles on you and that’s sort of what happened. I knew that I had to commit to Kendall’s struggle and then let the events fall on me.”

The crash scene was the first significant on-screen stunt that Strong had ever taken part in. It featured a night of shooting in freezing cold lake water. As well as scenes shot in a giant water tank at London’s Pinewood Studios.

Jeremy Strong had ice water poured over his head while filming the ‘Succession’ season 1 finale

“I guess the great thing about a physical obstacle is that what you really have to do is put yourself in that situation. In those given circumstances, and then deal,” Strong explained. “So I had to get in a lake that was close to freezing cold temperatures in the middle of the winter and it is horrible as it would be. Those things in a sense actually are easier than the — for lack of a better word — emotional work.”

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After the crash, executive producer/director Mark Mylod says that Strong insisted on having buckets of ice water poured over his head while he filmed the sequence of Kendall making his way back to his room without being seen by anyone.

Mylod says the actor made the request because he wanted the scene to be “real.”

He also wanted it to be cold enough for it to work.

The ‘Succession’ medical staff was on standby

When Strong filmed the scenes in the lake and water tank, the Succession medical staff was on standby.  Which allowed the actor to push himself and fully commit to what his character was experiencing.

“Your head is burning and your limbs are numb, so you don’t have to act that basically,” Strong said. “That was very scary, just letting the air run out in my own lungs to the point where I felt just enough in jeopardy and in danger so that I was really in the situation and then trying to extract myself from it.”

Jeremy Strong only wanted to go in the water once

Strong admits he was not looking forward to shooting these scenes. He recalls telling Mylod and series creator Jesse Armstrong that he only wanted to go into the water once because it was so freezing cold. But that changed once they started filming.

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“On the night, they had to stop me from going into the water because the medic was worried. I feel like I continue to discover things take after take. I think it was such an important part of the story that I wanted to be under there for long enough so that when the character comes out of the water, you really feel a sense of the stakes of it,” Strong said.

Succession seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming on HBO Max. Season 3 episodes drop every Sunday.