Sarah Snook Loves Matthew Macfadyen’s ‘Succession’ Performance, Just Like the Rest of Us

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Photo Source: Nathan Arizona

Sarah Snook has earned two Emmy nominations and a SAG Award nod for her turn as the cool, collected Shiv Roy on “Succession.” But not all her roles have reached this level of glamour. Here, she discusses a particularly rough shoot, a self-tape gone wrong, and her very un-Shiv-like affection for the actor who plays her onscreen husband.

What’s one performance that every actor should see and why?

I think Matthew [Macfadyen’s] performance on “Succession” is pretty goddamn great, especially given how different he is from Tom in life. It’s a complete fabrication, really; like, there’s nothing Tom about Matthew at all. 

RELATED: Matthew Macfadyen on the Drunk Fax That Landed Him a Role

What’s your worst audition horror story?

It was a self-tape. I forgot to edit out the middle bit between the better take and the other scene, and a lot of that private stuff was in the middle. I edited everything around it in iMovie, I sent it off, and then I got an email back the next day from my agent saying, “Hi, Sarah. Just checking—you edited this, right?” As I pressed play, I just knew that I’d done something wrong, and…[my] stomach fell out of my body. I marched up and down the house going, “No, no, no, no, no, no….” So I emailed and said, “I think I may have sent the wrong one! Here’s the right one; please disregard the previous.”

Succession“Succession” Credit: Claudette Barius/HBO

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Work hard, be kind, and [know that] you’re allowed to be there. 

How did you get your Equity card, and what do you remember about that project?

I got it doing a film called “Jessabelle” in Wilmington, [North Carolina]. One thing I remember clearly was feeling displaced and very like: Oh, I haven’t done any work; I don’t know what I’m doing here. The last day of the first week was a massive night shoot: car crash, huge truck turned over. I had to be on the ground with my leg bent, and then there was a prosthetic there to make it look like it was a broken leg. They had fake rain, but it was also raining. So the fake rain was warm, but by the time it got down to me, it was cold. I was lying in a puddle of water in a wetsuit, but [I was] still cold—and I just kept getting colder and colder. I was so green and naive [that] I didn’t speak up. I started getting hypothermic and didn’t realize. And in my brain, I started singing a German cabaret song—I don’t know what it is, but we’d sung it at drama school for something. 

So I just said, “I think I’m very cold.” And the standby girl was like, “Yeah, you’ve been shivering a long time. I didn’t know if you were OK, because you didn’t say anything—but you’ve been singing.” And I was like, “I think I need to go.” They bundled me into the ambulance, and I was totally hypothermic. [My body temperature] was down to, like, 29 degrees [Celsius]. I got put into the hospital and put into a warm tent. The producers were like, “Oh, my God.” 

Shiv Roy would not have let that stand.

She’d never be in that position! She’d be like, “I’m wearing a wetsuit lying on the concrete [at a] car park? No!” 

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 16 issue of Backstage Magazine.

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