Sarah Snook Brings an Outsider’s Perspective to a Uniquely American Role

By Bradford William Davis

The woman behind Succession’s reluctant heiress discusses the joys and challenges of playing Shiv.


HBO: What do you enjoy about playing Shiv?

Sarah Snook: The thing I enjoy most about the role is how different Shiv is from me. She's very direct, demanding and outspoken -- all traits that don’t come to me naturally. I've played outspoken characters before, but none who are as outspoken as Shiv and who act with such confidence because of their immense wealth and power. That's a different status of human experience to explore, and it’s a lot of fun.

HBO: Do those differences make the role more challenging for you?

Sarah Snook: Well, I think I prefer characters where I can lose myself in them. Even then, you can never fully escape yourself. Part of the fun is finding what elements of your own personality you can imbue into your character. Sometimes you take your character with you. I think I've become more forthright in real life, thanks to Shiv.

HBO: What parts of yourself have you imbued into Shiv?

Sarah Snook: With Shiv, my sense of right and wrong is definitely something I tap into. Though I hope my personal morals are a bit more global and consistent than Shiv's. Her sense of right and wrong tends to be in reference to things done against her -- it's more narrow than mine.

HBO: What does an in intelligent, confident, and exceedingly wealthy woman like Shiv see in a guy like Tom?

Sarah Snook: I think pairing Shiv and Tom was a stroke of genius. They work quite well together. Shiv herself might not think that on occasion and she’s clearly looking elsewhere. But, she's just as flawed and as broken a person as he is -- as much as she might hate to admit that. Plus, Tom just dotes on her constantly. I doubt she's had a lot of unconditional love in her life, so...

HBO: You’re Australian, and you’re playing an American political consultant. What have you learned about U.S. politics through this role?

Sarah Snook: I did some research on American politics before we started filming Succession. The biggest difference between American and Australian politics is the flashiness. There's way more drama and intrigue — things to feed news cycles. Sometimes I'll read your media and think, "Okay, this really matters. This is huge." Then, next week I'll notice the political stories everyone was so fixated on have been completely forgotten in favor of new ones. We don't create nearly as much political content as American media. It's fascinating looking at this from the outside.


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