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Succession’s Hope Davis on Supplanting Stewy As the Roys’ Most Dangerous Adversary

Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

An unexpected power player has emerged on Succession this season, and like her father, she wants to wrest control of Waystar away from the Roy family. Turns out Logan’s (Brian Cox) arch-rival Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) has a daughter — also Sandi, but with an i — and she’s his mouthpiece now that his health has drastically declined. Hope Davis plays the Roys’ mostly inscrutable new adversary, ever at the side of her father (and breathing new life into the Sandi–Stewy moniker) as their alliance tries to extract as many concessions as possible before signing a settlement deal.

Sandi remains unflappable as negotiations come down to the wire in the most recent episode; even after Roman (Kieran Culkin) wonders whether Sandy, who’s using a wheelchair and barely able to speak, is just her “meat puppet,” Sandi’s poker face remains in place. When she finally does strike a deal — and possible alliance — with Shiv (Sarah Snook), we’re still not sure of her agenda.

“She doesn’t have to tiptoe around Logan,” Davis explained to Vulture of Sandi’s enviable position. “She’s not afraid of poking the bear.” Talking to Davis just after she finished filming Cat Person with Nicholas Braun and Emilia Jones, we learn where Sandi has been this whole time, why her father’s diagnosis is no joke, and what the Furness heir apparent has planned for her own succession.

How was Sandi pitched to you?
They told me exactly who she is: ambitious for her father and acting as if she’s protecting his interests. The second they told me her name was Sandi with an i and her father is Sandy with a y, I had a huge laugh. She’s not based on any real person. She may be kind of a parallel to Shiv. Someone who’s been waiting in the wings her whole life while her father runs the show. She’s ready to step into the limelight.

So if Logan is Rupert Murdoch and the Pierces are the Bancrofts, who are Sandy Furness and the Furness Media Group?
I don’t think of it in the Murdoch terms, but more Shakespearean. If Logan is King Lear, and Sandy Furness is the Earl of Gloucester, then young Sandi is like a combo of Edmund and Edgar. You don’t know yet if she’s a decent person or if she’s just as savage as the rest of them. But she definitely wants to take her father’s power. She’s been groomed to do exactly that, and now is her time. He’s passing the baton to her.

The cast has talked about having free takes where they get to improvise. Did you get to do that?
Yes, we did get the free takes, which are kind of nerve-racking. It’s amazing to watch the cast do it. It’s like, step into the ring and just wing it. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t know that’s how they worked. To be a new person and to improvise is challenging because the world is new and you’re trying to figure out who your character is. We did a take where I’m sitting next to Sandy and he’s whispering to me, and I told them they could all “go fuck themselves.” The cast was not expecting that, and everybody started laughing.

What’s her backstory? Does she have a family?
I don’t believe she’s married or has children. She’s been working next to her father this whole time, maybe maintaining a quieter social presence than the Roy kids. She’s been watching and observing, has a lot of knowledge under her belt, and she’s ready to pounce. She has nothing to lose.

When Roman asks Gerri and Carl whether Sandy really has syphilis, Gerri says, “I think we started that rumor.” Stewy tells Ken that Sandy is “the angriest fucking vegetable,” and we see him in a wheelchair, barely speaking. What is wrong with him?
The syphilis diagnosis is what I’d heard, which is, you know, just a vicious thing to lay on somebody. He’s definitely incapacitated and fading. It’s not an act.

After initial negotiations between the two groups break down, Gerri says what Sandy really wants is that “Logan sits on a corkscrew and spins.” What’s behind their rivalry?
I think they’ve come up together. Both entered the business in their 20s, and they want what the other one has. They’ve been battling forever. Sandy has been trying to take over Waystar Royco from the very beginning. They’ve both survived this long, and now one of them is going to be victorious.

Stewy tells Ken we are “a complicated coalition.” Are Sandi and Stewy on the same page? 
I think they are allies, for sure. Stewy may have been in more meetings than Sandi. But now that Sandy is fading from the picture, I think she’s asserting herself and saying, “I’m in the No. 1 spot.” It’s not going to be Stewy.

When Roman wonders whether Sandy is even competent, Sandi says — with what seems like faux sincerity — “Oh, I just do what my dad tells me, like you guys.” Is Sandi’s relationship with her dad like the Roy siblings’ relationship with Logan?
I think that’s what’s inferred, yeah. Who knows? She’s not going to play her hand too openly.

So she’s as calculating as Shiv? 
You know, she probably is.

How long does Sandy have to live? And what’s next for Sandi?
Jesse Armstrong can answer how long Sandy has to live. I don’t know. But I think it’s going to be Sandi doing all the dealing from here on out.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Hope Davis on Ousting Stewy As the Roys’ Foremost Adversary