Brian Cox Speaks Out on Politics, Acting, and Historical Accuracy at London’s HistFest

Brian Cox

At HistFest in London, Brian Cox, star of “Succession,” openly criticized Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon,” discussed the pitfalls of historical films, and shared his candid thoughts on method acting, theater critics, and U.S. politics. Discover his unfiltered views in our coverage.

Brian Cox is known for his candid opinions, and during his appearance at London’s HistFest, the “Succession” star spoke openly on a range of subjects including politics, theater critics, and his critique of Ridley Scott’s film “Napoleon.”

“It’s terrible,” Cox expressed about the Oscar-nominated historical drama, according to The Standard. “A truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix. It really is appalling. I don’t know what he was thinking. I think it’s totally his fault and I don’t think Ridley Scott helps him. I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that. You can say it’s good drama. No — it’s lies.”

Brian Cox

He also commented on Phoenix’s name, suggesting it matched the nature of his performance: “I think he’s well named. Joaquin … wackeen … wacky. It’s a sort of wacky performance.”

Cox criticized the frequent sacrifice of historical accuracy in films, a topic Scott had dismissed during the “Napoleon” press tour. (The director had infamously told historical fact checkers to “get a life” in an interview with The New Yorker.)

Turning his attention to “Braveheart,” a film in which he appeared, Cox dismissed it as inaccurate: “’Braveheart’ is a load of nonsense,” he said. “Mel Gibson was wonderful but it’s a load of lies. He never impregnated the French princess. It is a bollocks [sic] that film.”

Cox was promoting his role in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at HistFest, a celebration of arts, academics, and history. He criticized the theater critics who likened his role to that of Logan Roy from “Succession”: “It’s stupid! Why make that comparison? It’s so obvious. Most critics are stupid. They really are. Theater criticism has gone right down the tubes. You think of those wonderful critics of the past, there’s nobody to match them now. Because they don’t do their homework.”

On the subject of acting techniques, particularly method acting, Cox was dismissive, arguing that understanding the role through research is more crucial than staying in character off camera: “Oh no that’s all bollocks. It’s a kind of nonsense. We’re transmitters. That’s what we are as actors. We transmit energy,” he explained. “You have to do your homework. That’s the delight of it, the information you get because you’re reading everything about Churchill and you’re building up a picture of who this person was.”

Cox also shared his political views, especially concerning his potential future in America due to restrictive abortion laws and the possibility of Donald Trump’s re-election: “It’s very hard to govern America and you certainly don’t need idiots like Trump doing that,” he stated. “I do think that Biden is a good man but he’s too old.” When asked about leaving the U.S. if Trump were re-elected, Cox confirmed, “I probably will.”

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