Photo: Arturo Holmes/WireImage
Before season three of Succession, the last viewers had seen of Rava Roy, Kendall’s estranged wife, was back at Shiv’s wedding in the season-one finale. But try as she might to get herself and their kids away from his unpredictable, often drug-fueled behavior, she can’t escape the machinations of the Roy family forever. “In my head, it’s always been a little mafia-esque,” Natalie Gold, who plays Rava, told Vulture. “You can never really get out.”
That proved true on the season-three premiere, when Kendall came crashing back into Rava’s life, commandeering her apartment as a war room in his new campaign against his father and testing the limits of her hospitality by inviting his entire entourage, including his new girlfriend, into her home. In last night’s episode, Rava’s offscreen, but the apartment remains Kendall’s base of operations as he tries to get his siblings to join up with him.
With Kendall asking so much of Rava this season, we called up Gold to hear a little of her perspective: Why Rava lets him back in, whether she thinks Kendall is using again, and some of the details about that apartment. As it turns out, it’s in the Woolworth Building. Rava’s doing well for herself!
What do you think Rava made of Kendall’s big press conference initially?
I think she’s, in some ways, waited throughout their marriage for him to stand up to his father — to put himself first, or maybe put her and the kids first. I think she’s happy to see it. I think it’s also true that she didn’t watch it. She’s busy. She’s got her own stuff going on. I think the beauty of getting out of this family was getting to focus not on this family — but you’re never truly out of the family. She’s proud of him, but she takes everything he does with a grain of salt. She’s had her fair share of disappointments.
There’s some debate, even among my co-workers, about whether Kendall is using while all this is happening. Do you think Rava thinks that he’s off the wagon?
The last time we saw them together, she discovered he was actively using, so I don’t think there’s any definitive reason for her to think he’s not. I think that’s always in the back of her mind.
Over that first episode, Kendall keeps bringing more and more people into Rava’s apartment. It’s like a horror movie for her.
She can’t help herself with Kendall. She draws firm boundaries and then he always surprises her and she’ll let him in. Then he’ll take it and invite his girlfriend over. But it is kind of beautiful, because it’s a safe place for him, and she knows that and wants to give him that. We shot the sequence of Kendall asking if Naomi can come over, to Lisa Arthur and Jess coming in and the lawyers coming in, and Naomi entering, and then eventually me yelling at Greg about the wine, all in one. It was like a mini-play that we got to do with Mark Mylod as our director. I love that she contains all her rage that she’s feeling and then it just comes out at Greg.
Have you talked much with Jeremy Strong or Jesse Armstrong about what you imagine Kendall and Rava’s backstory to be, or how they got together initially?
I think everybody has their own story about that. Jesse and I did talk about it, and I think they were desperately in love and — as Jesse put it in season one — we’re catching them at a moment where the trouble has reared its head one too many times. I have my own ideas about their backstory, not vetted by anybody, and in my mind, she married Kendall despite his family, rather than because of it. Actually, that’s a little too altruistic. A little because of it, she’s no saint! But as a partner, you want you and your children to be put first, ahead of the in-laws, and with his family, that’s a really hard thing to do.
At one point, Kendall snipes at her about whether he’s sending her enough money, and of course that is probably a lot of Roy money.
I’m sure she’s conflicted about that as well. I kind of think Rava’s earned that money, putting up with what she’s put up with — or maybe that’s just what she tells herself to sleep at night. She’s got a job and her own work, but she’s taking the money, that’s for sure. That apartment is no joke!
Did they talk to you about how they were doing the set dressing in Rava’s apartment? It really is quite a pad.
We shot in the Woolworth Building and Mark Mylod said, “We found a really beautiful place for Rava.” I got there and went, “She’s doing quite well!” Michelle Matland, our costume designer, said, “I have this vision that all these suits are coming in and Rava is just cool in cashmere.”
She’s got a whole grand piano!
For the kids’ lessons! They’re in all the classes.
Kendall brings up that he’s found men’s razors in her bathroom. Do you think she’s seeing someone, or does she just buy cheaper razors?
I think that’s the brilliance of Jesse’s writing. It’s up for everybody to decide for themselves, and we’ll see what happens.
Meanwhile, Kendall’s happily dragging Naomi into Rava’s apartment. What was it like to play the tension between her and Rava with Annabelle Dexter-Jones?
We met while we were rehearsing and I remember Jeremy was like, “This is weird. My wife and my girlfriend are in the same room together!” Annabelle was awesome and I remember that everything we did, Jesse and Mark and the writers would come up and go, “That was so uncomfortable and so great!”
We haven’t seen the kids yet this season. How do you think they’re handling Kendall’s new, very public crusade?
I think Rava is trying to normalize their lives as much as possible and protect them from the media and the scrutiny. But we do get glimpses that especially her daughter Sophie is up on social media. There’s a certain level of all of this being to protect them, but Rava can only do so much. I think she does really want him to be present and a part of their lives, but she’s always walking the razor’s edge between “Do I want them in a room alone with their grandfather? Nope,” and “Is Kendall sober? I don’t know.” In my head, it’s always been a little mafia-esque. You can never really get out. I’ve always thought that her values and politics are more on the liberal end and she’s trying to do good. But … she’s still taking that money!
Succession’s Natalie Gold on Rava Roy’s Dynamic With Kendall