Kieran Culkin talks to ET about the difficulties of filming on location and getting to work with Alexander Skarsgård again.
During Succession season 4, episode five, "Kill List," written by Jon Brown and Ted Cohen and directed by Andrij Parekh, the Roy siblings -- Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) -- are summoned to Norway for a team-building retreat by GoJo CEO Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård).
However, Waystar Royco's old guard of executives, including Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron), grows increasingly concerned over the trip's true purpose. And after Matsson makes a play for ATN, the family is forced to reconsider their plans for Logan's (Brian Cox) crown jewel, the only thing their late father tried to keep for his own.
While Succession continues to drive toward the series' ultimate conclusion, especially after Logan's untimely death and how his successors handle the conglomerate's overall future, the episode marked a welcome opportunity to see Roman and Lukas get to reconnect under very different circumstances.
It's also something that was a delight for Culkin, who opens up to ET about getting to work with Skarsgård again. "Alexander's pretty freaking excellent," Culkin says of the actor who first guest-starred in season 3 before being added full time in the series' final episodes. "The moment he showed up, it was like, 'Oh, he's been on the show forever.'"
Culkin, who was "really pleased" about Skarsgård's return, adds that ever since the two first filmed together, "I thought he and I had great rapport."
And that chemistry continues into season 4 as the Roy siblings (and the company's many executives) were forced to head overseas to Norway to hash out the final details in an increasingly fragile deal between GoJo and Waystar Royco.
In one particular emotional moment with Roman and Lukas at the top of a mountain, Culkin recalls that he and Skarsgård "ended up getting really close to each other's heads, which wasn't always in [the script]." During that scene, Roman finally comes to terms with his feelings over the death of his father and what he wants out of the business moving forward.
It was also a full-circle moment for the two characters (and actors) who first connected during Kendall's birthday party in season 3.
"The second scene we ever shot was just us sitting across from each other at 'Too Much Birthday' thing and it was just a chat," Culkin recalls, explaining that because Roman knew what he wanted from Lukas, and Lukas knew what his position was, "it was less of a scene and more just like, 'I was gonna talk to him.'"
"He said something about his daughter and I said, 'Oh, you have a daughter? I didn't know that.' And he goes, 'Yeah, me neither.' And I was like, 'Oh, that's great. What's her name?' And he goes, 'F**k if I know.' And then we laughed and then started talking more about business and started talking about family," Culkin says of them getting to play with each other and going off script in the scene until they "brought it back to the dialogue" that was written.
He adds, "It was just easy. There was no skip or flub or anything… So, it's great working with him."
As for Skarsgård, he shared that it "was a real treat" getting to work with the cast of Succession again. "Especially coming onto the show after two and a half years... I was really grateful because they're really sweet themselves. They're welcoming and hospitable and invited me, and [they were] so generous with their time and energy," he said.
He added, "It made my job very easy."
As for his take on Lukas, Skarsgård said that his character is driven by competition, even if there are billions of dollars at stake. "I don't think he's driven by greed or the need to accumulate more wealth," the actor offered. "He's very competitive -- just like a game, any other game. It happened to be about a multibillion-dollar company acquisition. But for him, it's like any other game."
And it's clear in this latest episode, that it was a game that Lukas had "a lot of fun [getting] to play."
Despite the opportunity to film on location, Culkin says it was surprisingly difficult at times, especially considering how short the turnaround time was before they wrapped filming on the series.
"For me, going to Norway, it was hard because you go somewhere to work -- and I was there for 11 days and shot for 10 of the days or something and we moved around towns and I think I checked out of eight hotel rooms -- and there was something about being somewhere that was so beautiful and not being able to appreciate it," he says. "That was actually rather hard."
Despite that, Culkin did get a chance in between takes during that emotional scene with Skarsgård to go back up to the top of the mountain. "I was told, 'You have half an hour to set up for the next thing.' And I was like, 'Oh, I don't know what to do with myself.' And I went, 'Wait, I'm gonna go back to the top of the mountain and look,'" the actor recalls.
"I went up there and it was f**king beautiful," Culkin says of getting to appreciate the real-life moment after "the intensity" of filming that scene. "I got, like, 20 minutes to sit and rock and look [out]. It was kind of beautiful."
Succession season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.