Sarah Snook explains why she nearly turned down playing Shiv in Succession

Virgin Radio

13 Feb 2024, 14:38

Actress Sarah Snook won two Golden Globes and a Primetime Emmy for her role as Shiv Roy in Succession. But she almost wasn’t in the massively acclaimed series at all.

In a new interview with Mariella Frostrup on Times Radio this afternoon (13th February), the Aussie actor spoke about playing the iconic role and why, at the height of her career, she has now chosen to take on 26 (yes, 26!) different roles in a new, one-woman adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in London's West End.

On why she almost rejected playing Shiv - the daughter of the dreaded Logan Roy - in the hit HBO series, she said: “She wasn't familiar to me, in a way that I felt that I could bring something that was great to the role, that I found interesting enough to want to play. And when you sign up at the beginning, it’s a strange sort of system that when you sign on for a TV show, you sign on for five to seven years, whether the show is good or not. And that's a big commitment to make. You're only going to shoot the pilot at first, but you’re contracted for five to seven years. And so as the studio that then has the final say. That's a big thing to commit to when you're not certain on the character.”

She continued: “I absolutely loved all the creative elements. I definitely wanted to work for HBO, and that was something that had been a goal for me for a while, but I didn't know, being the only younger female in the cast at that time, whether I would be a prop and just tried to be made the beautified version of me that the female character could be, then just pushed to the side. I'm not interested in playing roles like that, so I was fearful of being trapped, I guess.”

On the character of Shiv, Sarah told Mariella: “She can't get out of this cage, and she's boxed in and locked in. And there's something that's unfortunately endlessly familiar to a lot of women about that in marriages, in business, in family, in a lot of ways.”

And regarding the outcome of the series, which sees (spoiler alert) Shiv’s husband Tom succeed Logan when she had desperately hoped it would be her, the actor said: “It is devastating for her but she would repackage it to make it not a loss. She would be, ‘I'm in close proximity to the top’.  and… ‘I put him there.’ There would be a spin that she can create and hopefully claw back somehow.”

Running from this month until May, Sarah takes on every role in a contemporary production that breathes new life into The Picture of Dorian Gray. On choosing to take on the play, she explained: “When you are known for a particular role, more internationally, there is a fear, I suppose, as an actor that you might get constrained to roles like that. And the things that had come in during the time that I was shooting the show tended to be of a Shiv nature. And for me, personally, that's just so far from who I am as a person. And not that I wanted to play myself, and I certainly don't get the opportunity to do that so much in Dorian Grey, 26 versions of myself, but I wanted to be able to stretch my wings a bit and kind of say, ‘There's a little more around here.’”

Listen to Mariella Frostrup on Times Radio

The Picture of Dorian Gray plays at Theatre Royal in London. For information visit

Watch Succession on Sky Atlantic.