Thu. Oct 1st, 2020

Interview: Brian Cox (‘Succession’) on the Murdoch/Roy connection and fans’ fascination with Logan’s catchphrase

Brian Cox’s career spans over 40 years on both stage and screen. Cox has played everyone from Hannibal Lecter, the man responsible for creating Wolverine, to Lyndon Johnson on Broadway. Most know Cox for his dynamic portrayal of Logan Roy in HBO’s sensational series Succession. We were lucky enough to speak with him days after he just earned of his latest Emmy nomination.

DS: My first question may be a little unorthodox, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you. How often are you asked by fans to tell someone they’re with to fuck off?

BC: (Laughs) Recently quite a lot but before 2019 … hardly ever. I did, however, have a bizarre incident recently at the launch party for Ronan Farrow’s book. I found out about the event through my lovely friend Rosanna Arquette and was quite the posh event. It was an excellent talk that he was giving then I noticed I was surrounded by these ladies fascinated by ‘Succession.’ One or two did quietly asked me if they could video me telling them to fuck off. (laughter) I’m not sure that was appropriate at that meeting, but you know… I told them to fuck off. 

Do you enjoy saying Logan’s catchphrase? 

I’ve been known to curse a time or two, it would be wrong of me to deny that. Who knew that after a career that spans working on Nuremberg and Super Troopers that they would be after you to tell them to fuck off. I mean, it’s a strange world.

Have any celebrities attempted to pitch themselves to you as the perfect addition to the show? 

No one, I mean apart from all my friends coming out of the woodwork saying how much they love the show, and I’m so grateful for all that. That’s been fantastic, but nobody’s speculated on the show because it’s not a kind of show you can speculate on. I learned early on not to ask those questions. You know the great thing is to let that go and fall into the writers’ plans. Before the lockdown, I met up with Jesse, and he said, ‘Do you want to know about next season?’ You know, and it’s lovely stuff. The great thing about the show is they’re continually surprising not only the audience but also the people who are performing. 

Do you ever just read the headlines in the newspaper or online and marvel at how much art imitates life?

I think that’s part of the principle by which the show operates. There’s a predictive element to the show. Of course, nepotism does drive so strongly in our show. But the other thing, of course, is the fact that the children are tragic. They have no moral compass, unlike the old man who ignores his moral compass. But the children are endlessly disappointing, and they haven’t lived the life he’s lived. 

We talked to Nicholas Braun, and he let it out that he may have had a conversation with Jesse before the lockdown. Is there a twist on the horizon involving Greg and Logan? Something we are not seeing.  

There’s something that’s something you’re not seeing on the horizon. I’ll go as far as that.

Should I read anything into your answer? 

I mean these things are shifting points you know they never become fixed points. That’s the beauty of the organic nature of the show. There may be an idea that kind of looms quite strongly, and then it’s abandoned. There’s a set of things that they lay down and see what we can do. They never decided until later. 

While some have speculated ‘Succession’ is loosely based on the Murdoch family, have you had any interactions with the family? 

I was in my apartment in London, going to my local shop to get my morning latte. When I was in line, a man behind me said that my wife and I love the show and find it interesting. He continued to say that there are times that his wife does find it hard to watch. I asked who his wife was and replied Elisabeth Murdoch. I did tell him because this was, of course, after season 1, that my daughter in the show was the favored child. (laughter)

DS: What are you looking for when you pick a role?

Well, you know it’s horses for courses. I look at something, and I say whether this will work. I had a smell of success about Succession. I just knew it would work. You know it was initially supposed to be one season. I’m in London, and Jesse was in LA, and they decided that we were doing more than one season. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had such a variety of work and in the range of work.

What do you think shaped Logan into who he is today? 

Well, I think the central elements, all of which are still quite mysterious. 

Do you have any rituals that help maintain the incredible intensity needed to play Logan? 

Yeah, I mean, I think you play the role. You know it’s the demands of the role. Where we come from, where the Brits come from theatrically, we have to be able to turn on a dime. That’s the real strength, and that’s the kind of theater training that you have. You get the advantage of can I do that again. When you go on that stage, you have to be in full capacity, and you’ve got to be able to do and swing the way the show swings. They call upon you to be in the moment. I have to be on top of the situation. I have to be able to have to be skilled enough to take the curveball that may come to me at any given point, and that requires practice and technique.

Is this the most fun you’ve had acting?

It’s comparable, you know. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had some great times, but it is comparable. It’s a wonderful cast. We’re a real family, you know. That goes right across the board. 

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