Arian Moayed is like the rest of us in one notable way: he denies the end of Succession. The actor, who has played the fast-talking, deal-making Stewy Hosseini since the first season, never had time to really close that chapter of his life – he closed production before the series finale and went straight to the technical rehearsal of his next project, the (now Tony-nominated) Broadway adaptation of A dollhouse. Plus there was the whole won’t they element that hovered over the season. “Even though we all read the scripts as they came in and saw where the season was going, in my hopeful mind I just thought, oh this can not end,” he says, pointing out that he finally learned about the end of the show during the last week of filming. “I was just texting, no no, there must be more episodes!”
But following his on-screen counterpart, Moayed has negotiated a healthy exit package: his turn in A dollhouse runs until June 10 (coincidentally, the day before the Tony Awards, where he’s also nominated for Featured Actor), and he’ll be seen in Nicole Holofcener’s highly anticipated comedy A24 You hurt my feelings. Here he takes a moment to reflect on his time as the number one boy of the Number One Boy.
So, how much does it really feel Succession is over?
Not at all, because the episodes are still airing and we text about them weekly. But the reality is that we will never all be in the same room together again. Maybe at the Emmys, but the crew won’t be there. That group of people won’t be going to the Hamptons again to film a helicopter scene. That’s too bad. On the last day, I was a little darkened, but I will say the main thing I felt was gratitude. All I could say to everyone was thank you. It really changed my career and my life in so many different ways.
So you’re predicting what Emmys…
I think we’ll probably get some Emmys (laughs), and to be honest, I think we deserve a lot. I think Jesse Armstrong should get all the flowers in the world. This is a once-in-a-lifetime writer. And all the actors too. I know Sarah just moved up from the support category, but if she hadn’t, I’d say they should just do a triple-tie this year.
One of the things that struck me when I interviewed you is how different you seem from Stewy – do you often get that?
I’ve heard that I deviate from my character the most of anyone on the show. But Matthew (Macfadyen) is completely different. He’s just such a British gentleman. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say that he is a real British man. The joke they say in the wardrobe department is that he’s the only one who smells better after they get the clothes back.
I know you can’t really say anything about how the show ends or what we’ll learn, but I really want to know if we find out if Stewy and Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) friendship is real. More than ever, it feels like Kendall doesn’t really have anyone.
I honestly believe that Stewy and Kendall are friends. And I do believe that Stewy will always choose money over friendship. And I honestly believe that Stewy wishes Kendall did the same. He doesn’t go behind your back. Even in the bachelorette party scene in season one, he said something like “I love you man, but you know I had to follow the money.” That’s the game we’re in. Kendall has the legacy, but I don’t have that on the show. I join other companies. That’s why those Logan-and-Stewy scenes were always so dynamic.
Is this the kind of thing you specifically ask the writers about, or do you just know the characters well enough now?
I’m thinking about episode four, when they’re at the wake. I just looked back at the script and there were a few lines that were left out. When Stewy asks Kendall if he really wants to get back into the business and Kendall says “yeah I’m two track” or whatever it was. Stewy starts talking about how worthless his father was. He says, “Remember Pop Quiz?” We come home from high school and he asked you the capital of Ghana. You were wrong and he threw a shoe at your head. In that scene I started rattling off games he used to play, and the last one was Dinner for Winners. I don’t remember what the competition was, but I won and I got to have dinner with Logan and Kendall had to serve us. So while the public doesn’t understand any of that, it’s imbued with these relationships.
You’re quite outspoken about your own political views, and I believe you’ve said before that you believe that Succession is ultimately an anti-capitalist manifesto in the sense that it reveals all the dark elements of the way this country runs – do you ever struggle to reconcile these beliefs of yours with the machinations of Hollywood and what it requires of all of us to participate? in the?
At this point in my career, I can make decisions for my career based on the projects I feel good about. Even though it’s all about money in one way or another, in my childhood, I’ll be honest, it was so much more about capitalism. I was signed by a big agency when I was 25, 26 years old, and as an Iranian man they saw me only for Iranian things. I said I wouldn’t play terrorist roles, so I didn’t work in film and TV. Period of time. I did something Law & authority, a few little things. But if you discount the main source of income for the acting community in the Middle East, which was playing on the heels of 9/11 terrorists, there’s not much left. I said no because I didn’t want my parents to see me in that mess. It doesn’t represent who I am. I held onto it and I was poor. I’ve done a lot of theatre. I did a play with Robin Williams and people said, you’re on Broadway, so let go of the non-profit thing. I talked to Robin, who was a huge service guy, and he said double your shit. I did, and I was dropped by those cops.
Do you ever feel like people are trying to put you in those roles?
Now there are more roles for someone who is from the Middle East, but there are still many TV shows and movies that show Middle Eastern cities as war zones. I’ve spent the past six months reading a script set in a conglomeration of Middle Eastern countries. A year and a half ago I was offered something, and I won’t say what it was or with whom, but I attended the meeting and they said the character was Iranian and on a revenge plot. Do you remember the movie Not without my daughter? It was one of the most damaging things to happen to our culture. Iranians are notoriously over-friendly, but you’re making a movie with one sociopathic, really hateful guy and suddenly that idea is everywhere.
This is a difficult transition, but I’m very curious if you’ve kept any of Stewy’s very luxurious wardrobe items?
Damn, yes! I have the leather jacket. It mysteriously fell off the rack. I have a lot of his suits too, they are beautiful. I have a few Logan Roy business cards, they’re just for fun. I also got the Sonos speakers from Logan’s apartment. That was a practical keepsake.
When I think about the things about Stewy that I’ll remember long after the show, food comes up for some reason. Is it my imagination or is he always the only one who eats? Except maybe Hugo with his plate full of pastries at the GoJo retreat.
He has some sort of oral fixation. And that’s just me and Monica, the prop master, just having a little fun, because I thought he’d always be chewing on something or just getting ready. I remember that scene on the island in Croatia in season two. What first that island consisted of just a single bed and breakfast costing who knows how much per night. They shot the Roys getting off the boat and coming towards us, and that part of the scene was physically very far away from where I was sitting at a table. There was a beautiful octopus in front of me, and it was such an elongated shot that I thought, I’m just going to start eating. And when Jeremy came up, I was still eating, and he says, “Don’t wait for us or anything,” and I say, “I was hungry!” That was all spontaneous, but it made the show.
Okay, here’s a trick question. If the finale airs after this interview, what do I wish I had asked you about?
Oh, I think you’ll have a million questions. That’s what I’m going to say about it. In episodes nine and ten, shit goes a bit bananas. It’s just delicious. Maybe in five years Jesse will say, ‘You know what, I have an idea. Let’s put it back together.” But I feel like Jesse is so aware that he doesn’t want the show to ever get stale. He’s just going to say, bye.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
Succession releases new episodes Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO and Max. Follow along THR‘s Succession coverage of the last season.