The actor talks to ET about the revelations made about the GoJo CEO in episode seven.
Spoiler warning for Succession season 4, episode seven, "Tailgate Party," written by Will Tracy and directed by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini.
Ever since joining Succession as GoJo CEO Lukas Matsson in season 3, Alexander Skarsgård has been an enigmatic presence on creator Jesse Armstrong's Emmy-winning HBO drama. And in the fourth and final season, the character has only become more maniacal as his dealings with Waystar Royco and the Roy family get more and more complicated.
And after the recent revelation about Lukas' penchant for sending bricks of his frozen blood to his ex-girlfriend and head of communications for GoJo, Ebba (Eili Harboe), something that could lead to a sexual harassment scandal for everyone involved, episode seven doubled down on the CEO's unethical behavior and questionable business practices.
As it turns out, "he's not even a real coder," Ebba tells Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) after Lukas made his harassment of her public when he threatened to have Greg (Nicholaus Braun) fire her during Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Tom's (Matthew Macfadyen) pre-election day party. It was also revealed that GoJo has been inflating its numbers with dealings in India, which could put the company's buyout of Waystar Royco in jeopardy.
Clad in a gaudy gold jacket, Skarsgård says that Lukas' presence at the party was to visualize this idea that "it's a room of gray suits and you throw in a golden hand grenade."
"He just rolls in like a bull in a china shop and Shiv is trying to put a leash on this bull and guide him through all of these interactions with the big wigs," the actor continues. "But he's, obviously, quite an eccentric character. And it was a lot of fun coming in with that energy 'cause it clashes so much with the somber mood and state they're in when he shows up."
While speaking to ET, Skarsgård talks about getting to work with Snook as Shiv finds herself increasingly worried about what she's gotten herself into with Lukas; just how far his character would have taken things with Ebba in this episode; and how he feels about where Lukas ends up by the finale.
ET: What was your reaction to reading episode 7 and what we learned about Lukas?
Alexander Skarsgård: I was thrilled… I really enjoyed exploring his reaction to the bad numbers in India and how when Shiv finds out that, [she's thinking,] "Well, maybe I've been betting on the wrong horse here. Maybe this guy is completely nuts and has no idea how bad this could potentially be." Because Matsson's reaction is kind of like, "We'll figure it out. We'll just throw some PR people on it and it'll be good." And it doesn't really feel rooted in reality.
And that dynamic in those scenes with Sarah this episode, we're such little treats. It's been so fun digging deeper into that relationship. Matsson is a predator, and he could smell blood in the water. He could tell that there was something going on between the brothers and Shiv. There was a rift there, and he pounced on it and took advantage of it.
And I think that's part of his success as a businessman. He knows when to jump in like that and find a confidant. And going deeper into that with Sarah this episode was tremendously fine.
One of the more surprising things we learn about Lukas is that he's not the coding genius he proclaims to be. What are your thoughts on that? Is he just a fraud?
No, I don't see him as a fraud. He, obviously, struck gold years back. Even if he didn't create the code, he made a gazillion dollars somehow. I don't see him as a fraud. I think he moves fast and breaks things and he has so much financial weight behind him that that makes him a formidable opponent because it's hard to stop someone who is so reckless and wild and unhinged and unpredictable, who has that kind of capital behind him. So, he's willing to, you know, take big swings left and right. Some land, some won't, but he's got enough capital to make up for it.
One of the more uncomfortable scenes was with Ebba and Greg. I am curious, would Lukas really have gone through with having Greg fire her if that moment had gone any further?
No, Lukas and Ebba have a very, very complicated relationship. She has more of his blood than he does [chuckles], so he knows that he can't just go ahead and fire her. I mean, he is sometimes reckless and wild and will do stupid shit but I don't think he'd be that stupid.
There's also something quite sadistic about their relationship and that they push each other. He can be incredibly abusive but we tried to take it in a direction where it's not like they're codependent but we wanted to avoid the victimization of Ebba completely. Instead, we made it murky and weird so that he can be horrible to her but then, five minutes later, they're holding hands and whispering to each other, and then they're going out clubbing, doing drugs till six in the morning.
She holds so much leverage. But I think he likes to push it, push the boundaries and test the limits. And I think he finds it quite arousing.
Going off this idea of him pushing boundaries, that's something he's also doing with the Roy family in terms of this ongoing deal with GoJo and Waystar Royco. And given all the back and forth with the siblings, I am curious about what Lukas wants at the end of the day. Do you have a take on that, what Lukas wants in the end?
I don't think it's about money. He's a gazillionaire; he's got more than he can ever spend. I think there's some joy in this old dynasty and the fact that now that the titan is gone. And these kids, in Lucas's eyes, aren't worthy opponents. They're just like little Smurfs and there's something quite exciting about taking it. I mean, he's even testing Shiv now, figuring out if she's got what it takes, if she's the real deal or if it's pure nepotism.
But I think there's something fulfilling about just taking down one of the greatest legacy empire media companies in the world, and to do it kind of single-handedly. For him, I think it's more like, "This should be impossible, therefore I want to do it." That is a driving factor for Lukas, just to, like, create chaos. And if someone says something can't be done, Lukas will make sure to do that.
How do you feel about the comparisons to Daniel Ek and Elon Musk? Is that something that has ever come up in your discussions with Jesse or just how you created the character?
Not specifically. I drew inspiration from a lot of titans of the tech industry. But it's an amalgamation and I drew inspiration from a bunch of them, and then, obviously, sprinkled in some other components and ideas to create the foundation for Lukas. There's definitely a singularity and eccentricity that some of them also have that Lukas shares, but he's not modeled after one individual.
There are so many great moments with Lukas, but what's been your favorite part about playing him so far on the series?
Like you said, there's been so many lovely, juicy moments to play. The party scene in episode seven was a lot of fun because it was an opportunity to work with the entire cast and a lot of actors that I hadn't worked with before, a lot of actors that hadn't been around before.
And it was a big sequence with everyone there every night for, I think it was, a total of eight or nine nights with long night shoots. And to just hang out on set together, in between set setups and to get to know everyone that I hadn't worked with before was a real treat.
Finally, how do you feel about where Lukas ends up this season?
This season, Lukas ends up where he belongs.
Succession season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.
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