Spoiler warning for Succession season 4, episode nine, “Church and State,” written by Mark Mylod and directed by Jesse Armstrong.
During the fourth and final season of Succession, Natalie Gold has returned as Rava Roy, Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) estranged wife and mother of his two children, Sophie and Iverson. She first appeared as a series regular in season 1 before going on to guest star in season 3 as well as the latest three episodes for pivotal interactions with her husband as the two continue to disagree over how to parent their kids.
In the series’ penultimate episode, Rava has one final confrontation with her husband after revealing that she and their children are not attending Logan’s (Brian Cox) funeral. She is afraid of demonstrations taking place in New York City the morning after a controversial presidential election saw Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) coming out on top and wants to head upstate instead.
This, of course, causes Kendall to erupt, with him threatening to lay down in front of her car to prevent them from leaving. However, he does let them go. But on his way to his father’s spectacle of a service, he asks his assistant, Jess Jordan (Juliana Canfield), to call his lawyers so he can sue Rava for full custody of their children.
The episode is also Gold’s last as Rava, marking the conclusion of her journey on the series. “I was very satisfied with the way my storyline came to an end,” she says. And while speaking to ET, Gold reflects on her time on Succession, how her character feels about Logan’s death and where things ended up (or could have) with Rava and Kendall.
ET: It’s been great to see Rava in the final season. What did you think when you found out you’d get to appear again?
Natalie Gold: Thrilled. Always thrilled. I love being on this show. I love playing this character. I love this cast and crew. I love these writers. So, any opportunity that I have to come back and play Rava and get to spar with Kendall is pure and utter joy.
Most of Rava’s interactions with Kendall these past few episodes have been over their daughter’s safety. How does she feel about the way he has treated her as a mother and dealt with the situation at hand?
I don’t think she’s very happy with him. I thought that that scene in episode seven was absolutely brilliant. I think Rava — God, she tries to do her best to allow Kendall to be a co-parent to their children and she really does try to bring him in on this traumatic event that happened to their daughter, which is very complicated because it’s a direct correlation to the news media empire that his family has built. [And as a result,] her marriage, her kids and herself are a part of that — so, she just wants him to sit down and talk with her daughter. And then he turns it around and accuses her of being an absent parent. And we get to see her pissed, which I loved. And then, I get to give it back to him because how dare he.
Do you think hiring the security without telling her was the right move? Obviously, Rava was upset about it. But was that at all a real solution?
No, it terrified them. It’s Kendall’s version of trying to solve a problem without any emotional warmth and interaction. You know, Kendall, I think, has always said — and Rava has always given a kind of “Yeah, OK” to — “Everything I do, I do for my kids.” So, he’s trying to fix this problem by just putting security on them and doesn’t tell her, doesn’t confer with her and they end up being terrified in a car thinking that they’re being followed when they’re already paranoid and freaked out about what’s happened in the state of the world. So, I don’t think Rava thinks that’s a great solution to the problem.
In episode 9, Rava refuses to take the kids to the funeral and wants to head upstate because she’s worried about riots. Is this the real reason why she doesn’t want to go?
That is a great question. And I think that is just one of the reasons that the writing is so brilliant on this show, because it is open to interpretation. Yes, I do think that’s one of the reasons. I think she is genuinely afraid. Absolutely. But I also think it’s part of the subtle and beautiful progression that the writers have given this character of Rava, who’s somebody who always shows up for Kendall. You know, she showed up for him in season 1 when Logan was in the hospital. She came and hugged him at four in the morning. And now the big thing has happened, his dad has died and she doesn’t go to the funeral, which is bold. I read it and I was surprised. I just thought it was an incredible decision because she has kind of made the decision in that moment to stop protecting Kendall and his feelings and to look out for herself and her kids. I think there’s a lot that goes into that decision. And yes, I think fear of the city being one of them. But I don’t think that’s the only reason.
To your point, especially because they have been estranged for so long, this feels like she is kind of officially severing the ties here.
Right. She is kind of separating herself in a very distinct way. Yeah, ultimately and finally, right? They’re not divorced yet. And she’s been trying to divorce him for four years. I can’t imagine it’s been an easy process and I think the Roy family is incredibly hard to extricate oneself from. So, I think this is a bold decision on her part to not go to the funeral and not allow her kids to go to the funeral. But I think, yeah, she’s had enough.
Kendall’s reaction, however, is severe. Do you think that is just grief or does he truly want Rava and his kids to be at Logan’s funeral?
I’m sure she thinks it’s all of it. It’s just what’s so great about the writing, too. There’s so much internal conflict going on between these characters. And we played that scene so many different ways. And that’s what’s so much fun about shooting this show. We did takes of that scene where we were screaming at each other, we were physically fighting with each other, he was trying to get in the car and I was restraining him from it. There were takes where he actually does lay down in traffic. There was a take where he does open the car door and tries to get Sophie out and get her into his car and I run after him. I mean, there were so many different versions of the way we played that scene. And so, what ends up in the final version I thought was incredibly smart because Rava looks very afraid and Kendall is sad and alone. He’s all alone. And I think he wants his kids there and he wants Rava there because she is and has been a support system for him. But he just keeps pushing them away, and I think it’s very sad for him. I think it’s grief. And I think there’s also an element of — and I don’t wanna speak for Kendall — that, you know, looks good to have your family with you at the funeral.
Especially at a funeral like Logan’s.
Yeah, it’s very public.
In terms of Logan’s death, how does Rava feel about it?
Yeah, I think it’s very complicated. I don’t think Rava’s ever been a huge Logan fan. I think that Logan has played an ever present part in her marriage to Kendall. I think that’s maybe one of the reasons that they separated is the control that Logan has always had over Kendall. So, I think she feels very complicated. She feels, obviously, sad that this man has died and that their kid’s grandfather has died, but I also don’t think she has ever loved the idea of Logan being alone with her children.
What do you think about where Rava and Kendall have ended up, especially after how we first saw them in season 1 and evolve from there?
It’s very sad, but it’s been coming. I think the writers have created this very real and subtle progression of the breakdown of their already fractured relationship. They love internal conflict within a character, which is, as an actor, everything that you wanna play. So, I think throughout this series overall, she’s had this amazing rapport with Kendall where she can call him on his sh*t. She can tell him the truth, she can joke with him, she can be flirtatious and light, but she’s always been very pointed with him. There’s a veneer that’s breaking down with Rava because there’s a lot of pain and history in their relationship and I think he has let her down and he keeps letting her down. I think she loses that deep well of patience that she has for him. And ultimately, she makes the decision to not show up for him in this episode, which is painful and beautiful and human.
If we had another season or two, how do you think their custody battle would have played out? And do you think the two would have ever gotten a divorce?
That is such a good question. Yeah, maybe there’s a spinoff series somewhere that Jesse [Armstrong] can create if somebody wants to watch a really long, drawn out, ugly public custody battle. But I think Rava gets the kids in the end.
I could imagine some fun scenes with Kendall and Rava and a bunch of lawyers trying to mediate their discussions. I could only imagine how that would go down.
Oh god. It’d be so ugly, wouldn’t it? Yeah, that would be amazing. The lawyers wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise.
Over the course of the series, you’ve spent so much time acting opposite Jeremy. What was it like to play out these such intense scenes and moments with him in these past few episodes?
It’s an odd thing to say that it’s been really fun to play these intense scenes, but it’s been incredibly fun. And that’s a testament to to Jeremy being an incredibly alive and spontaneous and brilliant actor and scene partner. It’s a testament to the — can I use the word brilliant again if I use it 20 times — to the writing. Jesse and the entire team of writers, the brilliant directors that we’ve had and the crew, they give you so much infrastructure and so much trust and space. It’s just so much fun to come in and to say these words.
There’s a great photo of you with Juliana Canfield and Zoe Winters from the season 4 premiere. And it made me wonder if Rava and Jess (Canfield) or even Kerry (Winters) ever had side conversations about Kendall. I have to imagine Rava and Jess at least had some sort of unseen relationship or dynamic.
Oh, yeah. You know, Rava and Jess are very close. I mean, first of all, they’re friends of mine and incredibly brilliant actors. I don’t know if Rava and Kerry would interact with each other so much as characters. But Jess, I remember, in season 3, in the first episode when Kendall comes in with his hoard and descends into Rava’s apartment and uses that to do business, it was one kind of beautiful long take where they come in and Kendall and I have a scene together and then everybody was just improving as the camera was going at the end. And I remember Nick [Braun], as cousin Greg, said, “What’s the wifi password again?” And Juliana just said to me, as an improv as Jess, “I know it Rava. I know.” And I think Jess knows the intimate details of everything. And I think Rava and Jess speak more than Rava and Kendall.
Again, there’s another spinoff with Rava and Jess.
Absolutely. Maybe Jess comes and works with Rava now.
Yeah, especially if Jess finally gets out from underneath Kendall’s thumb.
Yeah, all his women are leaving him.
Succession season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
‘Succession’: Alexander Skarsg?rd Reveals What Arouses Lukas Matsson
Kieran Culkin on Reuniting With Alexander Skarsg?rd on ‘Succession’
‘Succession’ Season 4: The Cast Reacts to That Shocking Death
‘Succession’ Season 4: Zoe Winters on Kerry Being Undermined by Logan
‘Succession’ Cast on What’s Most at Stake After the Season 4 Premiere