locked in the bathroom

That Whole Gerri-Roman Thing on Succession Has Escalated Quickly

Us watching the bathroom scene.
Us watching the bathroom scene. Photo: HBO

Spoilers below for Succession season two.

Fellow Gerri-Roman shippers (Gerri-Romanderers?), we have much to discuss. On the fifth episode of Succession’s second season, the Roys decamp to the Gold Coast of Long Island to convince the blue-blooded Pierce family to sell their media empire — but more importantly, to also engage in some old-fashioned bedroom farce. Yes, the sleaziest Roy child and Waystar Royco’s general counsel escalated last week’s phone sex into an in-person (though not quite physical) interaction.

A drunken Roman (Kieran Culkin) wanders into Gerri’s (J. Smith-Cameron) room late at night, depressed over the news that Shiv is the heir apparent to the Waystar throne, then drinks her liquor and asks if they can schedule one of their “special conference calls.” Gerri starts to berate him in disgust … then locks him in her bathroom, says he has a “revolting problem,” and calls him a “classic fuck-up” as he jacks off on the other side of the door.

“We did almost every one of those beats in a variety of ways,” J. Smith-Cameron told Vulture. “We would do ones where I was very sharp with him — not quite dominatrix, but very sharp — and then there’d be ones where you’d almost be like, Is Gerri being actually seductive or is she flirting with him there? It was very moment-to-moment, as if both characters were walking through a minefield of not knowing where to set their foot.”

When they filmed at the end of a late-night shoot, Smith-Cameron said she and Culkin tried so many versions of the scene with director Mark Mylod, she even wasn’t sure which tone would actually be used in the final cut. “A lot of the feeling on set is very collaborative and very playful and very improv-y,” she explained. “They might not go with your idea. They might not know what to do with it at a certain moment, but they’re always interested, which is really fun for the actor.”

So, what’s Gerri thinking in the moment? Smith-Cameron said that her character was unsure of what to make of Roman’s “delightfully confounding” advances. “If I really didn’t want him in the room, I’d just kick him out, right? I don’t think she’d be scared to do that. I don’t think it’s like sexual harassment by your boss, because it’s Roman. He’s like a kid to Gerri,” she said. “One moment she might be amused and another moment she might be horrified and shocked.”

That Gerri-Roman Thing on Succession Has Escalated Quickly