'Succession' Season 3, Episode 3: Matthew Macfadyen on Tom's Pledge to Logan (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Now that Succession is three episodes into season 3, the members of the Roy family are becoming more entrenched in their positions in an increasingly public civil war for control of Waystar RoyCo. That includes Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), who finds himself making some tough decisions about his loyalty to the company as well as his father-in-law, Logan Roy (Brian Cox). While speaking to ET, Macfadyen breaks down Tom’s unexpected pledge, his increasing antics with Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) and where things stand with his wife, Shiv (Sarah Snook).
“He starts in a very wobbly place because he’s just had a heart-to-heart with Shiv on the beach at the end of season 2 and it carries straight on,” the actor says of Tom’s mental state at the beginning of season 3. “So, they’re dealing with the fallout of Kendall’s betrayal and they’re all in panic, crisis mode.”
[Warning: Spoilers for Succession season 3, episode 3, “The Disruption,” written by Ted Cohen & Georgia Pritchett and directed by Cathy Yan.]
After Kendall (Jeremy Strong) failed to convince his siblings, Shiv, Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck), to join his coup in episode 2, both sides are turning to the media to lob shots at each other while the company formulates a contingency plan, which includes someone taking the blame for the cruise line scandal.
“He realizes that he might have to take the fall,” Macfadyen says.
And in episode 3, with the Department of Justice showing no signs of backing down from investigating Waystar RoyCo and holding it accountable for various illegal activities, Tom meets with a lawyer to get an honest assessment of his potential downfall. That leads him to make a crucial, life-changing offer to Logan: “I will step up and go down,” Tom says, after determining that there’s no way he avoids at least a year or two in prison.
As the person who took over that position managing parks and cruises in the company, Macfadyen says Tom knows it’s going to be him. “He knows it’s in the cards,” the actor explains. “He thinks that pragmatically, it’s the best thing to do. And you know, like Shiv says, he’ll bank gold with his father-in-law, if he goes and says, ‘I’ll take the fall.’”
While Tom tells Logan he’s not bartering a prison sentence for any incentives, it’s obvious that this will secure his place, both within the family and the company, which he previously had aspirations of taking over someday before Shiv took an interest in becoming CEO.
Speaking of Shiv, when Tom reveals his plan to her before going to Logan, she’s not really surprised or pushes back against it. She even justifies why it’s the right move. “She ought to look a bit more horrified at the thought of her husband going to jail. And Tom sees that as well,” Macfadyen says. “She sort of praises him for having a really good idea, but he’s horrified that his wife thinks it’s a good idea.”
Macfadyen adds that “it’s a really clever setup,” especially since it’s unclear where the two are headed after that emotional day at the beach, when the two got brutally honest about the state of their marriage. When asked how this will change things moving forward, the actor remains tight-lipped. “I don’t know, but it’s interesting,” he offers.
What Macfadyen does know is why Tom remains so fiercely loyal to Logan and the rest of the family, despite Kendall trying to sway his brother-in-law to switch sides when he makes an unwelcome return to the office. “He’s always going to align himself with his wife. And I think the sway and the power that Logan has is not to be underestimated for all of them, especially for Tom. This is his father-in-law,” the actor says.
“It’s going to have to be something enormous for him to walk out on Logan Roy and his wife. So, as tempting as it might be and as plausible as it might be to go with Kendall, it would be a big deal,” he adds, noting that Tom knows that Logan is “not always 100 percent… So, they have doubts about his leadership. But despite all of that, it’s a huge thing to jump ship, which Greg has done.”
And when it comes to Greg, the dynamic between him and Tom has become even more intense now that Greg has seemingly taken Kendall’s side while still maintaining his employment within the company. What’s really caused a divide between them is the fact that Greg has not hired Waystar’s defense team and, instead, turned to his grandfather, Ewan (James Cromwell), to find him a lawyer.
“It’s fascinating because Greg’s quite canny,” Macfadyen says. “Tom rings him up and says, ‘Logan’s very interested as to where you are and if you don’t come back to us, you’re going to be in a work camp and your life won’t be worth living.’ And then Greg says, ‘Well, maybe I’m just sort of seeing what’s going on.’ So, I think Tom realizes that Greg’s playing the game as well.”
As a result, Tom takes his anger out on Greg by moving his desk from a window office to the stockroom. “It’s like a cupboard,” Macfadyen jokes, before adding that filming those stockroom scenes, which become increasingly more antics-filled throughout the season, “was just heaven.”
“Whenever we do any scenes together, we’re like, ‘Let’s do it one more time. Can we please do one more take?’ And they’re like, ‘No, we’ve got it,’” Macfadyen says. “We could do them all day long. It’s just a real pleasure. It’s a real privilege to do that stuff with Nick.”
And looking ahead, Macfadyen teases that “there’s some good stuff coming down the pike with those two as the season goes on.” Especially given, what he says is “the humor that comes out of the high stakes situations of the breakup of a marriage and the possibility of being incarcerated for terrible crimes committed 20 years before.”
Both of those situations start to weigh heavily on Tom, despite being so steadfast in his decision to offer himself up as the fall guy. And over the course of the season, “he becomes badly frightened at the prospect of going to jail,” Macfadyen says, which will lead to some wild behavior of his own.
Want to watch Succession? The series is now streaming on HBO Max and new episodes air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. (We may receive an affiliate commission if you subscribe to a service through our links.)