Succession stars Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun take us behind the scenes of Tom's big freak-out
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Sunday night's episode of Succession.
Waystar Royco executive Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and his much put-upon subordinate Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) spent the first half of Succession's third season terrified by the prospect of going to jail as the result of corporate crimes. When Tom learned during Sunday night's episode that they likely won't be incarcerated, he celebrated by erupting in the office of "Cousin Greg," upturning his terrified corporate underling's desk and shouting with foulmouthed joy before telling his colleague the good news and tenderly kissing him on the forehead. Director Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) recalls reading the script and feeling "spoiled rotten" that she got to oversee this latest unforgettable chapter in the twisted tale of Tom and Greg. "It's great knowing you have something so good and you don't want to mess it up," she says.
The sequence was a subject of discussion for days before filming. "We were all probably talking about it too much," shares Scafaria. "Like, 'Hey, that scene next week! Can't wait!'" But on the big day, the director did not confer much with Macfadyen prior to the first take. "It was like not wanting to talk to your pitcher during a no-hitter," she explains. According to Macfadyen, "Our camera guys followed me a bit, and we worked something out, and then we just went for it." Scafaria wanted the scene to start quietly, with Tom asking Greg to "scooch over" before suddenly lifting up the desk and sending it crashing to the floor. "It was so fun to turn it up to a 10 in one second," she says. Macfadyen's dramatic feat is doubly impressive given that that the actor handled a real — and hefty — piece of furniture time and time again. "The desk was ridiculously heavy," says Scafaria. "It was one of those with huge file cabinets on either side. It was truly one of the heavier desks I've ever seen."
"We had four or five takes," says Macfadyen. "It was very therapeutic." For Braun, it was pure joy watching his costar jump up on a filing cabinet and beat his chest. "I'm obviously 'in Greg,' but it was exciting to see, "Oh, that's what he's doing? And I get to respond to this?' Yeah, it was fun every time. Didn't take a lot of takes. He came out of the gate with perfect behavior for it," he says.
Then there's the kiss. Scafaria describes Tom smooching Greg as reminiscent of something from The Godfather. "That felt like a big moment for both of them," she says. Of course, while Braun's character may end the scene happy because he is avoiding jail, he is left with a trashed office. "That's Greg, right?" says Scafaria. "There's always a little bit of punishment!"
Watch the cast of Succession talk about Sunday's episode in the video above.
A version of this story appears in Entertainment Weekly's January issue. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.