Warning: This post contains spoilers for the series finale of Succession, a good show that you should watch if you haven’t already.
One of the grimmer developments in the home stretch of Succession — and there were plenty of those — was this: Shiv Roy was pregnant. That wouldn’t be bad news if the father wasn’t Tom Wambsgans, a man she really didn’t love (and probably never will, despite how he ended up at the end). In happier news, the actress playing Shiv, Sarah Snook, was actually pregnant. (She gave birth in May, around the time the last episodes were airing.) That was surely a coincidence, but it did affect how a big scene in the grand finale played out.
In an interview with Variety (in a bit caught by The AV Club), Snook opened up about that scene where Jeremy Strong’s Kendall and Kieran Culkin’s Roman wind up wrestling on the floor after the former finds out Shiv won’t vote for him as Waystar Royco’s new CEO. Thing is, originally it was supposed to be Kendall duking it out with Shiv. Day of, though, Snook realized that getting physical with a colleague who has an unusual, unpredictable approach to acting while pregnant maybe wasn’t a great idea.
“We had a choreography rehearsal between Jeremy and I. And then on the day, I felt good about being able to advocate for myself, going, ‘Let’s just remember this is a fight scene that we haven’t really properly rehearsed that we’re sort of feeling out with a pregnant woman,’” Snook remembered. “I feel safe, but Jeremy doesn’t like to rehearse, and I’m going to respect that to a point—but I’m not going to keep my mouth shut when I’m pregnant and we’re going into a fight scene.”
Not only did Culkin step into her place, but they came up with something else for Shiv and Kendall to do: Instead Shiv tries to leave and Kendall grabs her, which Snook felt was “far more honest and realistic” than brother and sister wrestling.
“Up until that point we’d rehearsed—but the instinct from Kieran as Kieran as much as it was from Roman is like, ‘Get your f*cking hands off her. She’s pregnant!’ And then leaps on him,” Snook explained. “And so it really made sense, so much more sense, that she would just be like, ‘Whoa—it is just boys, like wrestling boys. This is again, childhood.’ So it ended up being fine in terms of my safety, and much better in terms of the scene.”
Shooting that final Succession episode sounds like it was intense. Not only did Snook have to work up the courage to get out of wrestling Strong, but she also nearly made Culkin cry.