[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 1 of Succession, “Secession.”]
But it wasn’t just the family adjusting to the new normal as Waystar Royco exec Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) landed a coveted role in the fight ahead: CEO. As Logan decided it was best to step down from the spotlight in the wake of Kendall’s allegations against him covering up wrongdoing on cruises, Gerri came out on top as the best candidate to fill the position.
Whether that’s how everyone else felt or not will remain to be seen as the season progresses, but it’s certainly a step up for the level-headed businesswoman. Below, J. Smith-Cameron opens up about Gerri’s new role and teases what’s to come for the rest of Season 3 including her character’s continued flirtation with Kieran Culkin‘s Roman Roy.
When did you know Gerri would become CEO and how did that affect your approach to the role this season?
J. Smith-Cameron: Well, I sensed it because, at the beginning of Season 2, Logan makes it very clear that it would be handy to have someone at the ready that will make sure we all understand it’s for show and that he would be operating things from behind the scenes. So I did know ahead of time, before we got our script, but only just. I think that Gerri thinks there’s a good chance it could be her because she’s the most qualified for it. She really should be doing it anyway. And I think that she also knows that Logan still has his influence intact. She’s the ideal person to do it because she’s not going to do anything rogue. You know?
With that new power comes new responsibility. Will the power go to her head or will that level-headedness from Gerri continue?
Well, I think both. Mostly the latter. I think she’s very level-headed, and I think she is ready for this. It’s just a question of, will they let her lead them? You know? And I think she kind of knows, no, they won’t. They’re all still scared of Logan. But I think there’s a little feeling like, I’m almost able to put things right. So a little of both is true.
What can you tease about how the Roy family’s reach for power will impact Gerri’s run as CEO?
All the characters are always plotting. No one’s content, there’s no status quo. And so, yes, I think that the siblings are particularly clever, but they’re so inexperienced and not in the real world. They can’t really fend for themselves. At least, I think that’s how Gerri sees them. And I think that’s true to a large degree. They’re not fit for the job, because they don’t know how much a gallon of milk costs as we found out in Season 2.
And so, I think that they’re quite treacherous, and Gerri has seen that all along. I don’t think that Gerri’s dreams of glory or success have to do with actually being the top dog, exactly. I think it’s more like how she can effectively get her policies through for the company. She knows that her power is best utilized by not being threatening to the siblings, sidestepping dangerous things. She’s never the one caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She’s always been careful from day one. She was far away when cruises was happening. It’s always the case. She senses it coming, and she’s careful. She’s a qualified leader and [has] always been the secret leader in her mind all along.
But yeah, I think they get tuned up a bit in their animosity towards her. Shiv is somehow very threatened by Gerri, which is too bad because you kind of want those two women to join forces. And then Roman obviously has a bond with Gerri, but he kind of keeps getting it wrong. He keeps doing the wrong things that make it a liability rather than a plus. And then Kendall has gone rogue. It’s like guerrilla warfare with him. I think she feels like, “Oh, they’re particularly dangerous this year.”
Speaking of Roman, what can you tease about Gerri and Roman’s flirtatious behavior this season?
I think that in her version of events she’s going to have shaped this diamond in the rough, and they’re going to be an unbeatable duo. And then he’s just being silly because I don’t think she thinks there’s any way they would actually [get together]. I’m interested to hear Kieran answer this question, but I think Kieran has kind of intimated that he doesn’t know what would happen if they actually got in bed. Like it’s sort of a mythological thing, you know? So I don’t know. I think he keeps pressing that and it’s infuriating to her. So she keeps trying to press her agenda and he keeps trying to press his naughty schoolboy, pervy kind of agenda. And things come to a boil and I’m just going to tease it that far. You know, they come to a dangerous impasse and I don’t want to give anything away.
Considering her new position, will we learn more about Gerri’s personal life?
I’m kind of caught between really loving that she plays everything close to the vest. We don’t really know anything about her, because there’s a particular pleasure in playing a character like that. She has tricks up her sleeve, and you don’t kind of want to know what they are.
Succession, Season 3, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO