Zoë Winters On ‘Chuckles The Clown’ And Kerry’s Big ‘Succession’ Face Off


While the spotlight usually focuses on the Roy kids and the cantankerous Logan Roy, you can’t help but notice the work Zoë Winters’ has been doing as Kerry, Logan’s assistant turned companion. A fierce advocate for her boss/boyfriend whose news anchor career seemingly came to an end before it started a couple of weeks ago, Kerry was utterly stunned by the events of episode 3 (okay, no more holding back for spoilers, we’re discussing Succession‘s last two episodes in full now). But that was only the beginning.

Now in the aftermath, Logan is gone and more emotional trauma is here for Kerry when she confronts Logan’s technical widow, Marcia, and gets, essentially, tossed aside. It’s a brutal scene, really. For goodness sakes, when Roman is your best source for empathy, run! Anyway, we wanted to learn more about how it all went down so we asked Winters to break down that scene, her character’s reaction to filming Logan’s final moments on the show, Brian Cox’s generosity, and, in a fun/awkward moment, a prompt to recognize Marcia’s game in her power play (even though we are ALL Team Kerry at this point).

“Chuckles the Clown” — When you hear that, how do you feel about that insult from Karl?

Yeah, I understand it. I think she is in a moment of shock. She doesn’t hear it. I don’t think Kerry would feel good about it, but Zoe watched it here and thought it was hilarious.

It’s such a high-emotion moment and your character’s playing a note that no one else really gets allowed to play in that, which is like being stunned. What was the read going into that scene, what were the marching orders?

Kerry was in the jet up front with Logan and Tom the whole time and they shot the scene in the same way that they shot it on the boat, but a little bit differently. The kids called in, and they did all of their lines for Matthew MacFadyen to have his footage. And so I was there in that room, and it was a chaotic room and it was a heartbreaking room in the jet and confusing with a lack of information and medical terms flying around. And it was really disorienting.

And so I had that experience of going through all of that, and we shot that before I had my scene of coming back in to talk to Karl, Frank, Karolina, and Tom. So definitely, I knew what I was coming in with. I had been there for all of that. I had experienced all of it. And you don’t see her in any of that scene. But I thought that that was a really wise editing choice just because when she walks through those doors, it’s a new person to process how they’re going to react to this incredibly unbelievable moment. And then it was written in a way where it does express that she is in shock. And maybe it’s coming out through some weird giggling or maybe she has a weird strange smile at some points. And then obviously, they have this language around Chuckles the Clown. So obviously, there was insight through the script.

Personally, having had great loss in my life and understanding the feeling of shock, it all just comes out sideways. I don’t think that there’s any way to judge how somebody’s going to react in a moment of shock like that. And that’s what I felt that day going into it. I didn’t care how it looked. I didn’t care if it looked strange. I didn’t care if it wasn’t believable or if people judged it. I wasn’t thinking about acting in any way. I was just processing that moment and letting it be and arrive in me in the way that those moments do. And I think that shock is strange, and I think we see an embodiment of shock in that moment.

I saw some of the interviews that Brian Cox gave after the episode. He said some lovely things about you in the Vulture one. “Zoë Winters is an actress of considerable depth and intelligence.” How does that feel coming from such a master?

Oh, it’s unbelievable. I have so loved working with Brian. And Brian is such a titan of incredible talent on stage and screen and in films and TV. When I watch him, he is so mesmerizing and so truthful. And his gift with rhythm and language is so beautiful to watch. He knows how to fall into language and however poetic it is or however much you know there’s so much form and craft around a sentence. And obviously, the way this show is written is so genius. And then in Brian, it always really just feels like talking, and it’s just true. And he’s an incredible scene partner. What a gift to be across from Brian Cox throughout this series.

I remember early on when I was coming in, I said, “Brian, I’m going to try something.” And he said, “You do whatever you want to do.” Part of what makes Brian so incredible is just his inherent, unbelievable gift. But he also lets you play, and he responds to it. He’s not trying to control the situation. He’s not trying to control your performance. He’s existing and being and he’s taking in what you’re doing, and he’s responding to it. And to act with him feels really freeing and very much alive because he is just such a receptive partner. So to have him say nice things about me means the absolute world.

Speaking of being able to take chances and try things, I want to talk about the scene in this latest episode with you and Marcia when you show up at the apartment. How free were you to explore and play? Because it’s a big scene, it’s a big emotional response. A very understandable emotional response.

I think there’s an incredible feeling of isolation and also desperation. She’s in total disrepair. She’s also exhausted. The day before was the big event, and so she hasn’t slept. And she’s gotten this message from Marcia, and who knows exactly what it says, but something along the lines of the family’s gathering, you’re not welcome. And so I think that she is completely broken at this point and also scrambling to salvage any part of her life that she’s become accustomed to.

When we shot that scene, Lorene Scafaria is an amazing, amazing director, and she also shot a number of pages for that scene. And so the speech is happening, and then Stewy and Sandy come in. And so going into that scene, I kind of had what Kerry has, which is she’s alone. She’s taking the elevator up there. I think she didn’t want to make a scene. She was hoping that Marcia wouldn’t be there when she walked through the elevator doors. She just wanted to get up those stairs, get what she wanted, and get out of there. So I don’t think she is coming with any sort of armor or fight in her. I think all of the fight has completely been drained out of her.

There was a lot of physicality in that scene with her belongings dropping and Roman coming over to help her. And so there was also a lot of choreography to it in a certain sense. And Lorene and Jesse were both really helpful around making sure that the physicality helped lift the scene instead of in any way getting in the way of the language or of the desperation or of the need.

Will we see Kerry again?

I guess we’ll wait and see.

It’s a cruel moment, but you kinda have to respect Marcia’s power play there, don’t you?


Come on. That’s impressive to just roll in like that and just be like, “Yeah, this is mine.” And then to sell it in nine seconds.

The belle of the ball.

Don’t hate. Don’t hate.

You’re asking me not to hate on Marcia. Wow. That’s a big ask.

Okay, but is there a world where you kind of wish Kerry would’ve been able to do that kind of thing? To pull off that move? It’s just an admirable move.

I mean, what we see so much in this episode, not just in Kerry, but is people trying to land. People trying to land somewhere, and Marcia landed. So all right props to Marcia for landing. Can’t believe you got me to say that.

‘Succession’ airs Sundays at 9PM ET on HBO