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This story contains spoilers for season four of Succession. Every week The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald will be recapping the latest episode of Succession. You can listen to our recap podcast here.
Between Kendall’s brooding intensity, Greg’s malfunctioning weirdness and Roman cracking under pressure, the penultimate episode of Succession provided so much of what makes the show great.
But there was one thing fans were cruelly robbed of: a healthy dose of Gerri Kellerman.
Gerri Kellerman, the undisputed queen of Succession.Credit: Marija Ercegovac
The one-time interim CEO was a fleeting force in Church and State, memorable but blink and you’ll miss it. Of course, she was in attendance at Logan’s funeral, but while others indulged in performative grief, Gerri did what she had done so many times before, cut through the noise.
“How much of you is glad Logan is gone?” she asks Karl, who coughs up an unconvincing reply about missing The Big Man. “Stockholm syndrome,” counters Gerri. “Mixed with a little bit of China syndrome.”
Whip-smart and razor-sharp, it was classic Gerri, a reminder that even though she may be on the outer, she reads the room better than most.
Ahead of the finale, I spoke with J. Smith-Cameron about her character’s journey, why the internet is obsessed with Roman and Gerri’s slime puppy courtship, and her mysterious funeral scene left on the cutting room floor.
The obvious question, to begin with, is how much of you is actually glad Logan is gone?
J. Smith Cameron: (Laughs) I don’t miss him. Logan treated Gerri so brutally after being loyal to him for decades. So, I feel like she’s a step ahead of everyone else, saying, “Well, we all knew he was a creep.”
No Stockholm Syndrome here. Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) and Logan (Brian Cox) on Succession.Credit: HBO / Binge
The funeral episode went to air this week. Do you tune in, or do you not feel the need to watch them back?
I prefer to watch them on TV along with everyone else. I find it exciting that way, plus we haven’t seen the final cuts, so the end product is always different to what’s in my head. For instance, one of my favourite funeral scenes between Roman and I was cut, which I only learned a few hours ago when I watched.
Say it ain’t so. He needed Gerri more than ever. What was the scene?
There was a little exchange in the original script, where after Roman falls apart giving the eulogy, and he comes back to his seat, I like leaned forward and talked over his shoulder and asked if he was OK.
He was not OK.
Exactly! I thought it was an important scene to show that this was above their differences. Roman fell apart in front of everyone; he was the one feeling the loss of his father the most. And you’d get a little humanity from Gerri there.
I guess Jesse [Armstrong] felt the story was being told anyway with Gerri’s other scenes when she defends Roman when Frank and Karl are making fun of him. But it’s sad when stuff like that happens.
This brings us conveniently to the relationship between Roman and Gerri.
The internet is obsessed with them.
I know. Someone told me recently that there is a whole bunch of erotic fan fiction which I haven’t indulged in reading.
If it isn’t my favourite slime puppy.
There’s a big push for Roman and Gerri to end up together. Have you seen that?
I have, which doesn’t even fit with the whole universe of Succession. Jesse Armstrong created this world where there’s no real feeling, nothing sentimental, so I don’t know how that would work.
The vibe between Roman and Gerri changes in season two. That’s when we hit Slime Puppy territory. What did you make of the decision by the writers to escalate the relationship?
It wasn’t a planned thing; they decided to do it after they saw how Kieran and I were joking around in season one, kind of mock flirting.
Often we’ll finish a scene, but they won’t call it cut, so you carry on even though you’ve run out of dialogue. Kieran and I had this flirty banter that came naturally. Then, when I heard the writers were working it into the script in season two, they had only one scene, Kieran was in the bathroom, and I was insulting him – you might remember it?
But then it just took off from there and kept going further. I don’t think it would ever occur to her to have a romantic relationship with Roman; that would be political suicide for her at work. But she felt he was an asset for her to play because this is a Roy, a diamond in the rough.
He’s certainly in the rough now. The last time we saw Roman, he was being trampled by protesters.
I still think I could polish him up. With my brains and his beauty, we could take over the company.
Roman and Gerri for the win? I don’t hate it. Has Kieran Culkin’s performance guaranteed him an Emmy at this point?
He has been excellent this season, but then his performance was always spot on. What has changed is that the writers gave him more depth.
Like Roman, he wants to be taken more seriously.
Exactly. Kieran has always been very disciplined about the optics of his role. The writers would give him five hilarious lines in a scene, and he would push back and say, “I only need one of these; I don’t want just to be the class clown. I want to be a full-dimensional character.”
Kieran Culkin’s performance in the final season of Succession has been nothing short of masterful.Credit: HBO / Binge
And I think he’s been wise to do that because Kieran is plenty entertaining; he’s filthy, unusual, and funny, but the dramatic stuff is when he shines.
The finale is just a few days away, and Gerri will return for one final appearance. You’ve been living with this character for six years. How would you like her world to look once Succession ends?
When we last saw Gerri in episode nine, she was ready to get her settlement and strike out for the South of France. She has told herself she is prepared to take a break from it.
But I suspect that Gerri is not done working; her personality type is to be working to stay busy. She was the right-hand woman of Logan Roy, so she’s not the retiring type; she’ll organise a cushy post somewhere better than WayStar.
The final episode of Succession airs on Monday, May 29 on Foxtel and Binge.
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