• Golden Globe Awards

Winners Circle 2022: Nominee Profile 2022: Sarah Snook, “Succession”

HBO’s Succession, a dysfunctional family drama-comedy set against a high-stakes backdrop of cyclical scheming and betrayal at a massive multimedia conglomerate, offers its ensemble cast no shortage of delicious dialogue and barbed one-liners. But Sarah Snook, honored this year with her first Golden Globe nomination, for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film, also serves up the show’s most expansive rolodex of highly GIF-worthy nonverbal reactions, from arched-brow bemusement and expressions of withering judgment to sublimated anger and swallowed denials of pain.
As Shiv (short for Siobhan) Roy, the only daughter among four siblings jostling for validation from their emotionally withholding billionaire captain-of-industry father Logan Roy (Brian Cox), Snook richly captures and reflects the complicated, turbulent inner psychological life of her character — someone grappling with awakened ambition and the desire for a prize she’d been telling herself for years that she didn’t want. Shiv’s intelligence and previous experience as a campaign manager in politics inform a multi-dimensional, back-and-forth struggle in which she engages with her brothers Connor (Alan Ruck), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and, particularly, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), to determine who will inherit control of the family-owned company, Waystar RoyCo — as well as when.
In addition to all of this colorful corporate plotting and backstabbing, the show’s third season digs further into Shiv’s complex relationship with her husband, ingratiating Waystar executive Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), and examines some of its inherent imbalances.
“I think Shiv is someone who has a very clear idea of what she wants to do in terms of marking off particular things in her life [from a list] of achievements, and being quite controlling, I guess, about that,” Snook commented during an interview with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. “She’s a person who is aware of optics and strategy, and that kind of thing. And I think for Shiv, her main driving desire is for the love of her father, which is oftentimes not there. And a great way for her to shield herself from that is finding someone else who’s going to fulfill that role in some ways, and also just never get bored of her, and never leave.”
Born in Adelaide, Australia, Snook grew up in the southeastern suburb of Eden Hills, the youngest of three sisters. She was drawn to the performing arts at an early age and found support for the inclination at home, often staging plays with her siblings.
Snook attended Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Art, graduating in 2008. Her first professional screen appearance came in 2009, when she had a guest spot on the Australian medical drama All Saints. She earned kudos for her role in the TV movie Sisters of War, based on the true story of an army nurse kept as a prisoner of war during World War II.
Snook caught the attention of discerning international audiences with a supporting role in 2011s Sleeping Beauty, which was produced by Jane Campion and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The following year she co-starred with True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten in the romantic comedy Not Suitable for Children.
In 2014, Snook made a strong impression in the supernatural horror thriller Jessabelle, her first starring role, and also won the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award for Best Actress for her performance opposite Ethan Hawke in the science-fiction thriller Predestination. The following year, she further boosted her profile with supporting turns in Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker, starring Kate Winslet, and in Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs.
On stage, she made her London debut in 2016 opposite Ralph Fiennes in The Old Vic’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder. Over the next couple years, she also appeared in supporting roles in the third-season Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire” and Destin Daniel Cretton’s The Glass Castle, starring Brie Larson. In 2018, she re-teamed with Predestination directors Peter and Michael Spierig for the horror film Winchester.
Not content merely to bask in the warmth of critical praise for Succession, Snook, who early in 2021 married comedian Dave Lawson, has kept busy in between production on the hit series. She has used previous hiatus breaks to shoot supporting roles in An American Pickle and Pieces of a Woman, and next up for the 34-year-old actress will be the lead role in the horror-thriller Run Rabbit Run, shooting in early 2022 in her native Australia.