Brian Cox Is Glad ‘Succession’ Is Ending, and Doubles Down on Hating Method Acting: ‘I Don’t Put Up With That American S—’
Last month, when “Succession” creator Jesse Armstrong announced that the fourth season of the Emmy-winning HBO drama would be its last, the internet howled in despair. But Brian Cox — who’s played the ferocious mogul Logan Roy since the show’s 2018 premiere — applauds Armstrong’s decision. “He’s very disciplined in that way, and also he’s very British in that way,” says Cox, who is Scottish, and in conversation seems to mention birthplace to explain behavior. “The American inclination is to milk it for all it’s worth.”
Not that Cox, 76, won’t feel the loss. “I’ll miss the cast, I’ll miss the atmosphere, I’ll miss the bonhomie,” he says, ticking off reasons during a recent Zoom interview from London. And Logan? “Logan, probably, I’ll miss a bit. But upward and onwards.”
More from Variety
'Beef': Watch Ali Wong Flip Off Steven Yeun in Expletive-Laden Road Rage Scene (EXCLUSIVE)
'Daisy Jones & the Six': Marcus Mumford and Maren Morris on Finally Collaborating for Cover of 'Look at Us Now (Honeycomb)'
'Daisy Jones & the Six' Star Nabiyah Be Talks Simone's Queer, Black Love Story
Cox may be circumspect about the Murdochian founder of Waystar Royco — the mega-corporation at the show’s center, and the prize over which Logan has battled his adult children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook), finally shoving them out entirely at the end of Season 3. But when describing Logan’s motivations, Cox channels him. “They would absolutely destroy it,” he says passionately about the kids’ aspirations to the throne. “It would last in their hands probably no more than five minutes. And yet that’s what he wanted. He wanted his successor. Four seasons to prove it! And they simply haven’t proved it.”
The premiere of Season 4, on March 26, sees Logan isolated, agitated — almost lonely. Alienated from his progeny, who don’t attend his birthday party (the leech-like Connor, played by Alan Ruck, excepted), Logan is out of sorts. “When the kids aren’t around, he is very focused on who he is,” Cox says. “And not in a good way.”
Yet, speaking for Logan, Cox proceeds to trash them as candidates for his job. Roman is “the gifted one,” but he did accidentally send Logan that dick pic meant for Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), and can’t be trusted. Shiv is Logan’s “darling,” but “she just doesn’t know who she is, or where she is. And she also can’t stop talking.” As for Kendall, “his own avarice is what’s gotten in the way,” not to mention his “‘Oh, poor me’ kind of thing” that Logan finds “very unpleasant.”
Speaking of dramatic posturing, the two actors have engaged in a public back-and-forth about Method acting, which is Strong’s preferred approach — and a style Cox loathes. He criticized it in his 2021 memoir “Putting the Rabbit in the Hat,” and has said there’s “a certain amount of pain at the root of Jeremy.” In a recent GQ cover story, Strong allowed that Cox has “earned the right to say whatever the fuck he wants,” but refuted his assertion — saying that Kendall is in pain, not he. When asked about that, Cox says, “I’m glad he is not in pain personally,” and praises Strong as “a wonderful actor.” But there’s more. “It’s really a cultural clash,” Cox says. “I don’t put up with all that American shit. I’m sorry. All that sort of ‘I think, therefore I feel.’”
“Just do the job,” Cox continues. “Don’t identify.” He points to the case of estimable Method actor Daniel Day-Lewis, with whom he worked on the 1997 film “The Boxer,” and blames those immersive techniques for Day-Lewis’ early retirement. “He retired at the age of 55, and I’m going, ‘That’s when the roles become really interesting. You’ve retired just at the point when actually the roles get better!’” Cox exclaims. “Of course, Jeremy was Dan Day-Lewis’ assistant. So he’s learned all that stuff from Dan.”
He delivers this soliloquy with an underlying cackle and a glint in his eye. Still, there’s affection in his tone: Cox loves his children, as does Logan. “If he didn’t love his children, it would be so much easier,” he says. “That’s his Achilles’ heel.”
As for Logan, Armstrong has said he wasn’t meant to survive Season 1, and his health has been iffy all along, so we’ll see what happens as “Succession” barrels toward its conclusion. Whatever Logan’s fate, his catchphrase — “Fuck off!” — will follow Cox for the rest of his days.
He tells a story about being invited to an event at Rosanna Arquette’s house, where Ronan Farrow presided over a conversation about the #MeToo movement. “I was standing at the back listening to this very intense stuff, and Farrow being quite brilliant, actually. And I thought, ‘Wow, this is really interesting stuff. Brilliant, great,’” Cox recalls. “It was over, they saw me and they immediately started bringing out their devices and going, ‘Can you tell us to fuck off?’ And I’m going, ‘Jesus Christ. This is a #MeToo meeting! And you’re asking a white dinosaur to tell you to fuck off?’”
That incongruity aside, do people yell it at him in the street? “They don’t yell ‘Fuck off.’ They just say, ‘Can you tell us to fuck off?’ And I happily do so: ‘Fuck off.’”
Best of Variety
Final Oscars Predictions: Animated Short - Will the Academy Go for 'The Boy' or 'Dicks?'
Final Oscar Predictions: Documentary Short - Will the Academy Go for Malala or 'Elephants?'
Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.