The Roys are heading to Norway.
The new season of HBO’s “Succession” will find Alexander Skarsgård’s slick tech mogul Lukas Matsson luring the Roy dynasty to the Norwegian mountains.
Overseeing the Norway shoot is producer Scott Ferguson (“The Night Of,” “Brokeback Mountain”), who confirms that production and stars including Skarsgård, Nicholas Braun and Sarah Snook have been shooting the new season across a number of locations in western Norway, such as the Atlantic Ocean Road (recently seen in the latest Bond film “No Time to Die”), the Romsdalen Gondola and the luxury Juvet Landscape Hotel (used in sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina”), located near fjord Geiranger, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Ferguson reveals that the upcoming season will delve further into the world of Matsson, who was first introduced in Season 3. As the sale of media conglomerate Waystar Royco to Matsson moves ever closer — and the Roys question what their future will look like — the family is invited to visit the GoJo founder’s homeland.
“Last season we had an important new character and a new storyline, a potential merger with Alexander Skarsgård’s tech company,” Ferguson tells Variety on location in Norway.
“We were really excited when Alexander came onboard — he’s a wonderful actor. And from the beginning [showrunner Jesse Armstrong’s] idea was that the tech company was going to be led by someone from a Scandinavian country. In the writer’s room, around February, Jesse had an idea for an episode they wanted to be in [Matsson’s] part of the world.”
Ferguson is one of the industry’s most experienced producers, having filmed all over the globe. Though he’s been working in television in recent years, his previous film credits include collaborations with directors such as Jim Jarmusch, Steven Zaillian, James Mangold, Milos Forman, Sydney Pollack and Ang Lee. Ferguson has worked on the Emmy-winning “Succession” over the last four years.
He confirms dramatic scenes set against equally dramatic landscapes in Norway lie ahead for the new season, which will air next year.
“When we saw images of the remarkable architecture and setting of Juvet we got really excited,” says Ferguson. “Norway is a glorious, natural setting. It immediately seemed like a perfect place for a family gathering in the series. We studied different countries, but we realized Norway just has this exceptional landscape — like nowhere else in the world.”
The production team got excited about the powerful combination of alluring architecture and natural elements within the landscape.
“Mark and I traveled over in May, had a look in the region around Åndalsnes, looked at the gondola with the restaurant on top of the mountains. They also had an airport in the area which we were looking for in the story. Norway had everything we were looking for — in just utterly gorgeous settings. Then we had to figure out how to do the shooting in these locations, practically. We got great support from HBO, and we’ve spent the last several months figuring out a plan and then putting it into place.”
Ferguson explains he’s involved in the writers’ room from the earliest development stages in order to get a sense of the flavor of the planned storylines.
“I talk with them after they have spent [some time] in the writer’s room so that I get a sense of where they’re going. Then I’ll come over to London a couple of times and spend some time with them during the course of development, and start to hear what’s on their minds and what kinds of locations we’re looking for — what the storylines are.”
Ferguson, who worked with Lee on “Brokeback Mountain,” also observes the benefits of working with local crews on the ground. “People are good at filming where they live, and I always want to take advantage of that great local expertise,” he says. “That’s how we approached Norway and the other distant travel episodes on ‘Succession.’”
Looking ahead to Season 4, the producer promises that “what audiences like about ‘Succession,’ they’re going to get more of.”
“This starts with HBO’s support, backing us and creating an environment where Jesse and the writing team have the ability to take risks creatively,” Ferguson explains. “We use the production side to help them, everyone is given freedom to do their best work. And I think that’s part of why the show works on so many levels — the writing, the directing, the crew. No one is afraid to try something they haven’t tried before.”