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Kieran Culkin and J. Smith-Cameron’s On-Set Flirting Inspired Roman and Gerri’s ‘Succession’ Relationship

According to the actors, the pair's backstage banter sparked the genesis of their fan-favorite relationship in Season 2.

Succession

“Succession”

HBO

One of the most unexpected twists of Season 2 of HBO’s Emmy-winning “Succession” was the deranged sexual bond that formed between Waystar Royco heir Roman (Kieran Culkin) and general counsel Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron). Despite the pair’s age gap, they wind up in a sort of verbal sadomasochistic relationship wherein Gerri calls Roman degrading things like “slime puppy” as he masturbates behind closed doors.

We’ll soon know where that sick, hilarious bond finds them in Season 3 when the new batch of episodes premieres on October 17, but in the meantime, the actors are reminiscing about how their relationship came to by in a new interview in The Hollywood Reporter. (Via Insider.) As Culkin explains, the writers concocted the idea based on actual flirting that took place between Culkin and Smith-Cameron on the set of Season 1.

“I would flirt with J. in the most obnoxious way, just to fuck around,” Culkin said. During the filming of the Season 1 finale “Nobody Is Ever Missing,” Culkin and Smith-Cameron would check out each other’s butts on set.

“I remember the writers all laughing,” Smith-Cameron recalled, “but it never occurred to me that it would inform anything they wrote.”

The two actors were already friends and collaborators ahead of “Succession,” as they both starred in “Margaret” and “The Starry Messenger,” and Culkin appeared in the play “This Is Our Youth,” written by Smith-Cameron’s husband Kenneth Lonergan.

Culkin admitted to wanting to see a sexual relationship play out between their characters.

“I remember saying to my wife in season one, ‘I really hope something happens sort of sexually or romantically between those two, but I don’t know that it ever will,'” he said.

A promo poster released by HBO all but confirmed that Gerri and Roman’s alliance will carry over into the new season.

“I have to say in my long career, I don’t know that I’ve been in such an unusual story arc. It’s so interesting to me, and complicated and kind of shocking — and it’s sort of sad and fascinating in terms of #MeToo, and in terms of women of a certain age, flexing their power,” Smith-Cameron told Variety back in 2020.

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