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Brian Cox (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brian Cox

Brian Cox (2016) - 01.jpg
Cox in 2016
Brian Denis Cox

(1946-06-01) 1 June 1946 (age 75)
Dundee, Scotland
Years active1965–present
  • Lilian Monroe-Carr
    (m. 1966⁠–⁠1967)
  • Caroline Burt
    (m. 1968; div. 1986)
  • Nicole Ansari
    (m. 2002)
Children4; including Alan

Brian Denis Cox CBE (born 1 June 1946) is a Scottish actor. He has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre, where he gained recognition for his portrayal of King Lear. He currently stars as media magnate Logan Roy on HBO's Succession.[1] Cox is also known for appearing in Super Troopers, Super Troopers 2, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, X2, Braveheart, Rushmore, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Troy. He was the first actor to portray Hannibal Lecter on film, in 1986's Manhunter.

An Olivier Award, Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner, Cox has also been nominated for a BAFTA and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. In 2006, Empire readers voted him the recipient of the Empire Icon Award.[2]

Early life

Cox was born in Dundee, the youngest of five children.[3] He is from a working-class Roman Catholic family, of Irish and Scottish descent.[4][5] His mother, Mary Ann Guillerline (née McCann), was a spinner who worked in the jute mills and suffered several nervous breakdowns during Cox's childhood.[6] His father, Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, was a police officer and later a shopkeeper, and died when Cox was eight years old.[6][7] Cox was brought up by his three elder sisters who include Betty born in 1930 with whom Cox has remained close.[8] He joined the Dundee Repertory Theatre at the age of 14.

Cox was educated at St Mary's Forebank Primary School, followed by St Michael's Junior Secondary School (both in Dundee), which he left at the age of 15. After working at Dundee Repertory Theatre for a few years, he went to drama school from the age of 17 to 19, at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[9]


Cox left the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in 1965 when he joined the Lyceum company in Edinburgh, followed in 1966 by two years with the Birmingham Rep, where his roles included the title role in Peer Gynt (1967) and Orlando in As You Like It, in which he made his London debut in June 1967 at the Vaudeville Theatre.[10] He made his first television appearance in an episode of The Wednesday Play in 1965 and made one-off appearances in several other TV shows before taking a lead role in The Year of the Sex Olympics in 1968.

A recurring rumour that Cox had made uncredited appearances as an extra in several episodes of The Prisoner was dismissed by the actor in an interview with, where he said, "I would've loved to have been in The Prisoner, and I remember seeing it, and I watched it when it first came out. I'm old enough to have seen it and watched it and, yes, to have been an extra in it. But I never was."[11] In 1978 he played King Henry II of England in the acclaimed BBC2 drama serial The Devil's Crown, following which he starred in many other television dramas. His first film appearance was as Leon Trotsky in Nicholas and Alexandra in 1971.[citation needed]

Cox is an accomplished Shakespearean actor, spending seasons with both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre in the 1980s and 1990s. His work with the RSC included a critically acclaimed performance as the title character in Titus Andronicus, as well as playing Petruchio in The Taming of The Shrew. Cox said later that his performance in Titus Andronicus was "the greatest stage performance I've ever given."[12] Later, Cox portrayed Burgundy opposite Laurence Olivier in the title role of King Lear (1983). He went on to play King Lear at the National Theatre.

In 1986, during the production of Manhunter, while Cox was playing Hannibal Lecktor,[13] Anthony Hopkins was playing King Lear on stage at the National Theatre. Five years later, during the production of The Silence of the Lambs in which Hopkins took over as the correctly named Lecter, Cox was playing King Lear at the National Theatre. At the time, the two actors shared the same agent.

In 1984 he played the Royal Ulster Constabulary officer Inspector Nelson in the Royal Court's production of Rat in the Skull. He was subsequently awarded that year's Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a New Play.[14]

In 1991 he played the role of Owen Benjamin, the closeted father of a gay man, in the BBC "Screen 2" production of David Leavitt's novel, The Lost Language of Cranes, which is set in the 1980s. In 1993, he appeared as British spymaster Major Hogan in two episodes of the British television series Sharpe. In the same year, he was seen in an episode of Inspector Morse ("Deadly Slumber"), where he portrayed Michael Steppings, a retired bookmaker whose daughter is in a permanent coma.[citation needed]

In 1994 he played the role of Colonel Grushko, 'a policeman who sees greed and rapacity in Russia's new mood', in Grushko, a British-made crime drama set in Russia.[15]

He often plays villains, such as William Stryker in X2, a murderous CEO in Chain Reaction, Pariah Dark in the Danny Phantom episode "Reign Storm", corrupt CIA official Ward Abbott in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy. In 2001, he received critical acclaim for his performance as a pedophile in Michael Cuesta's L.I.E.; he won a Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Actor and an AFI Award for Featured Actor of the Year – Male.

He has played more sympathetic characters, such as Edward Norton's father in 25th Hour and a fatherly police captain in Super Troopers.

He also played Rachel McAdams' father in Red Eye and appeared in the U.S. sitcom Frasier as the father of Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves). He was also the protagonist in the film The Escapist. Cox made a guest appearance in the 1997 Red Dwarf episode "Stoke Me a Clipper", as a medieval king in a virtual reality game.[16] He won an Emmy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award that year for his portrayal of Hermann Göring in Nuremberg, and also appeared as Jack Langrishe in the HBO series Deadwood.

Cox with Paula Sage receiving her BAFTA award
Cox with Paula Sage receiving her BAFTA award

In 2002 he appeared in Spike Jonze's Charlie Kaufman-scripted Adaptation as the real-life screenwriting teacher, Robert McKee, giving advice to Nicolas Cage in both his roles, as Charlie Kaufman and Charlie's fictional twin brother, Donald. In 2004, Cox played an alternate, villainous version of King Agamemnon in Troy. He appeared on a 2006 episode of the British motoring programme Top Gear (as a "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car"). Cox has also been involved in the video game industry. He played the ruthless emperor Scolar Visari in Killzone (2004), and its two sequels, Killzone 2 (2009) and Killzone 3 (2011). Cox also was the voice of Lionel Starkweather, the main antagonist in Manhunt (2003), a video game for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. [17]

His radio work includes playing the title character in the BBC Radio 4 series McLevy (1999–present), based on the real-life detective James McLevy,[18] and his portrayal of the character Bob Servant. Cox says he played Servant, the creation of Dundonian author Neil Forsyth, based on memories of his late brother Charlie.[19] Cox narrated an abridged audiobook version of Sir Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe, and an unabridged audio book adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. He has also collaborated with HarperCollins on an audiobook of Tolkien's epic poem The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.

In 2008 Cox starred in Red, based on Jack Ketchum's novel. The film was directed by Lucky McKee and Trygve Allister Diesen, and also starred Tom Sizemore, Amanda Plummer, and Kim Dickens. Cox also played an institutionalized convict in Rupert Wyatt's film, The Escapist, appearing alongside Joseph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper, and Damian Lewis.[20]

In December 2009 Cox appeared in The Day of the Triffids, written by Patrick Harbinson, whose credits include ER and Law & Order. The drama is based on John Wyndham's best-selling postapocalyptic novel, The Day of the Triffids.[21] The same year, Cox provided the voice for the Ood Elder in part one of the Doctor Who Christmas special, "The End of Time". Cox starred in the Ridley Scott produced Tell-Tale, a film based on the short story "The Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe.[22]

In February 2010 Cox was elected as rector of the University of Dundee, polling almost two-thirds of the vote.[23] Cox was set to portray Mr. Reisert in Scream 4,[24] but it was later announced that he would not be joining the cast.[25]

In February 2010 Cox played former Speaker Michael Martin in the television film On Expenses. Cox played Laura Linney's father in the Showtime series The Big C.[26] In July 2010, he joined the cast of the 2011 science-fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes.[27]

In 2010 Cox appeared in another movie titled Red, totally unrelated to the 2008 film cited above.[citation needed]

In 2011 Cox appeared on Broadway opposite Jason Patric, Chris Noth, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jim Gaffigan in a revival of Jason Miller's That Championship Season, which opened in March.[28] In January 2012, Cox appeared alongside Billy Connolly in BBC Radio 4's Saturday Play — The Quest of Donal Q, specially written for the pair by David Ashton, who also wrote the McLevy series.[citation needed] Cox appears in the Australian TV drama The Straits as the patriarch of the Montebello family crime syndicate, Harry Montebello. Shooting started on location at Cairns and the Torres Strait Islands in June 2011. The series premiered on Australian TV Channel ABC1 on 2 February 2012.[29] His portrayal of Jack in The Weir at the Donmar Theatre in April 2013 is reprised at Wyndham's Theatre in January 2014.[30]

In 2013 he appeared as Ivan Simanov in Red 2, duplicating the role from the 2010 original film. in November 2013, he starred in the BBC television docudrama, An Adventure in Space and Time, about the creation of the British science-fiction series Doctor Who.[31] Cox portrayed Canadian television executive Sydney Newman, the driving force behind the creation of the iconic programme.[31] In March 2015, he joined Emile Hirsch in the cast of The Autopsy of Jane Doe.[32]

In the summer of 2016 Brian Cox directed the American premiere of Joshua Sobol's Sinners in Greensboro, Vermont, and became co-artistic director of the Mirror Theater Ltd.[33]

In June 2017 Cox starred in Churchill, playing the title role.[34]

In early 2018 Cox reprised his role of Captain John O'Hagen in Super Troopers 2 (2018), a sequel to the 2001 film Super Troopers. Early drafts of the script excluded Cox's character from the movie, with reservations about whether or not Cox would want to return for the sequel.[35] It was later announced he would return, Cox himself joking that it was on the condition that he received a "big action scene with rockets and explosions".[36]

In December 2018 Cox was appointed as head of the international jury at the Golden Unicorn Awards.[37]

In 2019 he provided the voice (but not the acting) for Death in Good Omens.[38]

Personal life

Marriages and family

Cox is divorced from his first wife, Caroline Burt. The couple have two children, Margaret and Alan, who is also an actor, best known for his roles in Young Sherlock Holmes, and playing the young John Mortimer in the television film of his play A Voyage Round My Father (1982) opposite Laurence Olivier.

Cox wed his second wife, actress Nicole Ansari, in 2002. The couple have two sons, Orson Jonathan Cox and Torin Kamran Cox, and live in New York City.[39] Cox also maintains a home in Primrose Hill, London.


In 2007, Cox campaigned for Labour in the run-up to that year's Scottish Parliamentary elections.[40] However, Cox endorsed the Scottish National Party in the 2011 election because of their higher education policy.[40] On 25 May 2012, Cox spoke in support of Scottish independence at the Yes Scotland campaign. On 29 January 2015, Cox announced he had quit the Labour Party, as he believed it had failed to live up to its basic principles and instead joined the Scottish National Party, as he felt it was taking forward values of social justice and representing Scotland's best interests.[41] In January 2020, Cox called for a second referendum on Scottish independence, saying Labour had "failed" in Scotland and Scots were "organically" moving towards a decision to leave the UK following the Brexit referendum.[42]

Cox has confirmed in an interview to The Guardian that he supports the recreational use of cannabis, saying: "It's absolutely great and I recommend it to everyone – get stoned!".[43]

Charity work

Cox is a patron of the Scottish Youth Theatre, Scotland's national theatre "for and by" young people. Scottish Youth Theatre's building in Glasgow, The Old Sheriff Court, named their theatre the Brian Cox Studio Theatre in his honour. He is also a patron of "THE SPACE", a training facility for actors and dancers in his native Dundee, and an "ambassador" for the Screen Academy Scotland.[citation needed] Cox is also patron of The Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham one of the first Repertory Theatres to be built in the UK.

On 11 February 2010, Cox was elected as the 12th Rector of the University of Dundee by students of the institution and was formally installed in October.[44][45] He was re-elected in January 2013.[46] He holds an honorary doctorate from Napier University in Edinburgh, awarded in July 2008.

In April 2010, Cox, along with Ian McKellen and Eleanor Bron, appeared in a series of TV advertisements to support Age UK, the charity formed from the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged. All three actors gave their time free of charge.[47]

On 14 April 2012, Cox was the 10th grand marshal of the New York City Tartan Day Parade.[48]


On 31 December 2002, Cox was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours List.[49]


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1984 Olivier Awards Actor of the Year in a New Play Rat in the Skull Won
1986 Best Comedy Performance Misalliance Nominated
1988 Actor of the Year in a Revival Titus Andronicus Won
Actor of the Year in a New Play Fashion Nominated
1993 BAFTA Television Awards Best Actor The Lost Language of Cranes Nominated
2001 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nuremberg Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie Nominated
2002 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Frasier Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Actor L.I.E. Won
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Won
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Nominated
2003 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture Adaptation. Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Villain X2 Nominated
2007 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series Deadwood Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Zodiac Nominated
2009 Fright Meter Awards Best Supporting Actor Trick 'r Treat Nominated
2020 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Succession Won
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated


  1. ^ Hogan, Michael (6 January 2020). "Brian Cox's rise to power: how a penniless boy from Dundee became TV's favourite billionaire" – via
  2. ^ "BAFTA Awards Search | BAFTA Awards".
  3. ^ Ramaswamy, Chitra (22 February 2010). "Interview: Brian Cox, actor". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  4. ^ Brian Cox (1992). Salem to Moscow: An Actor's Odyssey. Methuen Drama. ISBN 978-0-413-66450-1.
  5. ^ Ross, Shan (12 August 2009). "Madness, death, hardship: star's roots revealed". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Brian Cox Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2008.
  7. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times". Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Brian Cox profile". Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  9. ^ THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE?,, 27 December 2005; retrieved 8 March 2014.
  10. ^ Who's Who in the Theatre, 17th edition (Gale, 1981)
  11. ^ Harris, William. "The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Brian Cox ("The Straits")". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  12. ^ Barnett, Laura (1 January 2013). "Brian Cox on his first RSC performance, Titus Andronicus". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  13. ^ The character was renamed "Lecktor" in the first film version: Gates, Philippa (2006). Detecting Men: Masculinity And the Hollywood Detective Film. Albany, NY: State University of New York. p. 268. ISBN 0-7914-6813-5.
  14. ^ "Rat in the Skull at the Royal Court Theatre". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  15. ^ Sutcliffe, Thomas (25 March 1994). "Russian drama gets off to a shaky start". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Red Dwarf, VII, Stoke Me a Clipper". BBC Two. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  17. ^ Denton, Jon (13 August 2012). "Retrospective: Manhunt". EuroGamer. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Brian Cox profile". McLevy. 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2008.
  19. ^ Smith, Aidan (20 January 2013). "Interview: Brian Cox on what keeps him coming home". The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Brian Cox Takes on Villainous Role in 'Rise of the Apes'". Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  21. ^ "Vanessa Redgrave to star in BBC's The Day of the Triffids". The Telegraph. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  22. ^ Sneider, Jeff. "Exclusive: Brian Cox to Abuse Primates in 'Rise of the Apes'". Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  23. ^ "The Courier: Taking you to the heart of Tayside and Fife". 2010. Archived from the original on 16 February 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  24. ^ "Brian Cox Joins Scream 4?". 26 March 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  25. ^ "Rumor Control: Brian Cox Not Starring in 'Scream IV'". Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  26. ^ "Showtime Taps Cox, Linney for Two New Series".
  27. ^ Creepy, Uncle (12 July 2010). "Brian Cox Ain't Monkeying Around in Planet of the Apes: Rise of the Apes". Dread Central. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  28. ^ "". Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  29. ^ "The Straits begins shooting today". Encore Magazine. 14 June 2011. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  30. ^ Snetiker, Marc (12 July 2013). "The Weir, Starring Brian Cox, to Transfer to the West End in 2014". London Buzz. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  31. ^ a b "David Bradley to play William Hartnell in Celebration of Doctor Who". 30 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  32. ^ "Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox Attend The Autopsy of Jane Doe". DC. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  33. ^ BWW News Desk. "Brian Cox & Brian Murphy to Talk Shakespeare at Mirror Repertory Company", 7/26. BroadwayWorld, 24 July 2015. Web. 10 January 2017.
  34. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (29 May 2017). "Film Review: 'Churchill'".
  35. ^ "Kevin Heffernan Reveals a Fan Favorite Has Returned For "Super Troopers 2" | Crowdfund Insider". Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  36. ^ Erik Stolhanske (23 April 2015), Brian Cox has something to say about Super Troopers 2, retrieved 18 October 2018
  37. ^ Orlova Alvarez, Tamara. "Natalia Vodianova The Golden Unicorn Awards". Ikon London Magazine. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  38. ^ White, Peter (5 March 2019). ""Succession" Star Brian Cox Joins Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" As The Voice of Death".
  39. ^ Staff (21 February 2010). "Interview: Brian Cox, actor – News". Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  40. ^ a b Association, Press (29 January 2015). "Actor Brian Cox quits Labour party to join SNP" – via
  41. ^ "Brian Cox: Why I've quit Labour for SNP". The Courier. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  42. ^ "Hollywood actor Brian Cox calls for second Scottish independence referendum". The Scotsman. 5 January 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  43. ^ Freeman, Hadley (13 January 2020). "Succession's Brian Cox: 'I was touched up by Princess Margaret'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  44. ^ "Rectorial Elections". Archives, Records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  45. ^ "RU 293/5/8 Admission ticket". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  46. ^ "RU 293/3/9 E-mail on re-election of Brian Cox". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  47. ^ Sweney, Mark (19 April 2010). "Hollywood actors star in Age UK ad". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  48. ^ Dawson, Kyle (16 February 2016). ""Outlander" Star Sam Heughan Named Grand Marshal Of The 2016 NY Tartan Day Parade". National Tartan Day New York Committee. Mindsink Strategic Solutions. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  49. ^ Mills, Rod (26 January 2014). "Scottish independence: 'Yes' star Brian Cox will NOT return his CBE". Daily Express. Express Newspapers. Retrieved 7 November 2018.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Craig Murray
Rector of the University of Dundee
Succeeded by
Mark Beaumont
This page was last edited on 28 August 2021, at 03:36
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