Warning: This post contains spoilers from Wednesday’s Snowfall Season 4 finale.
Strip away the drugs, glamour and violence, and Snowfall is a family drama about a mother and her crime boss son.
This was especially evident during Wednesday night’s Season 4 finale, which built up to an emotional crescendo so raw and honest that even Damson Idris and Michael Hyatt — the portrayers behind Franklin and Cissy, respectively — found themselves crying uncontrollably. It’s not as if Franklin won’t see Cissy again. But now that she’s moved to Cuba with Alton, there’s no telling when she’ll come back to South Central L.A. or how much longer Alton will be alive.
“We probably did three or four takes on that because it was so emotionally draining,” Hyatt tells TVLine about the scene that resolved the multi-episode tension between Franklin, Cissy and Alton. Did Franklin forgive Alton for his betrayal? That’s up for debate. But Franklin’s love for his mother is irrefutable.
“Thankfully, the truth was there, so we didn’t have to search for it,” Hyatt adds. “It was just there organically. That’s the beauty of working with Damson and Kevin [Carroll]. The conversations we have, you really don’t have to do much, because the spiritual and artistic connection is just there.”
Idris agrees, and says that because in real life Hyatt is a single mom with a preteen son and he’s the product of a single mom, the bond between him and his TV mother is believable because it’s genuine.
“Michael’s got a son, and I relate to him so much. So there’s that spiritual pull that’s been there from the very beginning,” Idris says. “I remember when we were chemistry-reading for her part, and all the actresses had 10 minutes to prepare with me. I asked Michael if she needed the 10 minutes, and she said, ‘No, it’s fine, baby. Let’s save it for the room.'”
“She definitely saved it for the room, and the rest is history,” he adds. “That scene in the Season 4 finale, I texted Michael the day before to apologize in advance because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep it together. My mother raised all six of us, and the thing in the back of your head as you get older is, ‘How much time do I have left with my mom?'”
Idris says that, without even trying, his strong love for his own mother spilled out into that teary scene.
“Our mothers are everything,” he explains. “That scene is a connection between myself and my mother and one day having to say goodbye. And when Franklin says goodbye to Cissy, I couldn’t stop crying, even when they yelled cut. There were three people on tissue patrol.”
“I don’t mind crying when the cameras are rolling,” Idris continues. “Everyone sees me as this serious guy walking around set, always in character, and it was hard to look away from my true vulnerability. I know the crew was eyeballing me. These are the stories they take home with them. But I just love how respectful the crew was in that moment. It was really special. Michael Hyatt and Kevin Carroll are two of the best actors I have ever worked with in my life.”
Fascinatingly, Idris said when it came to saying goodbye to Alton, he attempted to cry in character but it didn’t happen.
“That scene was hard to shoot, because I thought when Alton apologized, I would start crying — but I didn’t,” he shares. “No matter what I did or how hard I tried, those tears would not come for Alton. We did one take and I thought, ‘Franklin really hates this guy right now.’ I even tried to do it differently and nothing. But every time my eyes landed on Michael, they would stream. That’s when I knew we were living in the truth of that scene.”
Speaking of truth, there is a moment when Cissy gets on the plane and looks back at Franklin that almost implies that she knew Teddy would show up in Cuba and try and kill Alton. But Hyatt says that’s not something the Cissy she knows would do.
“We will see in Season 5,” Hyatt says, reluctantly. “Who knows what will happen, and the writers could always add a twist. But it was not the intention and if we are to stay true to Cissy, I would say no because family has always been at the core of her consciousness. When Alton came back into Cissy’s life, for real for real, there was a renewed commitment and a wider understanding of her family. Cissy is not the kind of person to sell her family out.”