Who Is Succession’s Lukas Matsson Based On? Alexander Skarsgård Role Explained

The following story contains minor spoilers for Succession Season 4, Episode 2, “Rehearsal.”

The biggest conflicts on Succession have—and always will be—those that take place within the Roy family. But while the final blows of this proto-Shakespearean saga will, of course, ultimately come down to those within the branches of the family tree, it seems like one outside force above the rest could ultimately cause a wrinkle in everyone’s plans on the way to that final curtain call.

Obviously, outside forces have long managed to intervene in Roy family affairs: Stewy (Arian Moayed) and Sandy/Sandi Furness (Larry Pine/Hope Davis) have been a thorn in Waystar/Royco’s side for the duration of the series, and people like Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) and the entire Pierce family (led by Cherry Jones’ Nan) have led to lots of business transaction drama. But it’s the wild card, self-proclaimed tech disruptor Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) who may ultimately blow the family up for good.

Of course, it was Matsson who turned the family business on its head in the tail end of Succession Season 3, when a series of meetings between him and Logan (Brian Cox) ultimately resulted not in the initial approach of Waystar/Royco buying GoJo, Matsson’s trendy, buzzy, and successful streaming service, but, much to the Kendall, Roman, and Shiv’s (Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook) surprise, the other way around. Logan had cut a backroom deal for GoJo to acquire Waystar/Royco; he’s always been looking for a killer instinct to take his company over, and while he’s never seemed to see it in his kids, maybe Matsson—the unpredictable entrepreneur who plays by his own rules—has it.

Season 4 jumps the timeline ahead. The deal between Waystar/Royco and GoJo is about to close, but a group led by Stewy and Sandi seems to think they can squeeze Matsson for more money; Matsson calls Kendall to warn him that this is a bad idea, and that if they try to squeeze him, he will walk. Clearly this conversation has been had with others—Kendall apparently thinks it’s a bluff, but Roman and Logan think he means business. If you ask us, we’d guess just about everyone was watching the entirety of “Rehearsal” yelling at their TVs for the Roy kids to stop being morons, take their money, and start over already. Hard to argue otherwise, especially when they know they’re dealing with someone who’s a completely chaotic wild card.

But there’s still plenty of season to go—and Succession has never followed any kind of rule book. There’s more to know about Lukas Matsson.

Who is Lukas Matsson on Succession?

alexander skarsgard lukas matsson


Lukas Matsson was first introduced in Season 3, Episode 7, “Too Much Birthday,” which is remembered of course as the episode where Kendall holds his big 40th birthday bash. In the early part of that episode, it’s floated that Waystar/Royco is interested in acquiring Matsson’s GoJo, a popular and very strong streaming service, but that the CEO himself has no interest in meeting with Logan. Roman knows he’ll be at Kendall’s birthday, and he goes with the intent to try to broker a deal. He’s successful, telling Matsson that he’ll never have to deal with Logan and can instead go through him instead.

Throughout the rest of the season, though, this snowballs; Matsson makes cryptic tweets about major money coming in soon, causing GoJo’s stock prices to skyrocket and completely messing with any semblance of a deal the two companies had. Logan and Roman go to meet with Matsson, and after an initial conversation, Logan sends Roman home.

In the finale, we learn that Logan has made a backroom deal to sell Waystar/Royco to GoJo. The kids are torn apart by this, but by the time we get to Season 4, it really seems to be the best thing for all parties involved. The kids can cash out of the company with billions of dollars, which they can use to invest in whatever future failed media venture they feel like, whether it’s “The Hundred” or competing with their dad with Pierce Global Media, which they win from a bidding war with their father for an agreed-upon (but not yet paid) sum of $10 billion.

Of course, this huge bid with money they don’t yet have is what leads directly to Shiv’s willingness to team up with Sandy and Stewy to squeeze Matsson; something that he warns Kendall (and Logan, and Roman, both off-screen) will make him walk from the deal. Some of them seem to think he’s bluffing—and, come on, we’ve watched this show before. Those some are probably wrong.

Is Lukas Matsson based on a real person?

spotify press announcement

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Matsson seems to be primarily based on Daniel Ek, who is the Swedish CEO and co-founder of music streaming giant Spotify. Like GoJo acquiring Waystar/Royco within the show, Spotify also seems to have the intent to expand into a broader media empire—in recent years, the company has expanded to become the home of podcasts (original and hosted), audiobooks, and in 2020 bought the multi-platform site The Ringer, which was founded by Bill Simmons.

Matsson also seems to, in part, be based on Elon Musk; when you hear about billionaires Tweeting cryptically and driving the markets into a frenzy, who else would come to mind?

Matsson is played by Alexander Skarsgård

hbo's "succession" season 4 premiere

Taylor Hill//Getty Images

In bringing in Alexander Skarsgård to play Lukas Matsson, Succession has the series’ biggest-name guest star.

HBO fans should be more than familiar with Skarsgård’s presence, as he first broke through as Eric Northman for 7 seasons on the premium cable’s hit True Blood. He also won an Emmy for his unforgettable and terrifying role as Perry in the first season of the network’s Big Little Lies, when he shared many of his scenes with Nicole Kidman. He also led the network’s 2008 David Simon-helmed limited series Generation Kill.

Skarsgård has also made a major presence on the big screen; while he started his career with a hilarious and tiny role in the beginning of Zoolander, he’s since become a unique and versatile actor who balances the line between lead and character actor, as well as comedy and drama. In the last year alone, he’s appeared in the epic viking drama The Northman and the surreal horror Infinity Pool; before that he’s led movies like Godzilla vs. Kong and The Legend of Tarzan and appeared in a supporting capacity in the Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron romcom Long Shot.

He’s got two movies that could release in 2023: Lee, alongside Kate Winslet, and the Michael Shannon-directed Eric LaRue.

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Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.

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