Brian Cox used his memoir to complain about Ed Norton, Johnny Depp & more

Hunter foundation dinner with Sir David Attenborough, Edinburgh, Scotland, 18/02/2020

One of my favorite gossip genres is “older celebrity who stops giving a crap and starts bitching about every celebrity they’ve ever known.” It’s a very specific genre and it’s not limited by gender or age, actually. I remember the infamous Bronson Pinchot interview from 2009 which was just Pinchot sh-t-talking every celebrity he ever worked with. This week, it’s Brian Cox. Not only is he doing promotion for the current season of Succession, but he’s also doing advanced promo for his autobiography, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat. It sounds like a pretty dishy and bitchy tell-all. The Big Issue has a preview of all of Cox’s hot goss:

On Ed Norton: In 2002, Cox co-starred in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. Cox didn’t love the film’s lead…“He’s a nice lad but a bit of a pain in the arse because he fancies himself as a writer-director.”

On Michael Caine: An icon, a legend. Cox would agree but he’d also add…“I wouldn’t describe Michael as my favourite, but he’s Michael Caine. An institution. And being an institution will always beat having range.”

On Johnny Depp: In his book, Cox recounts turning down the role of the Governor in Pirates of the Caribbean. He doesn’t regret missing out on the Johnny Depp helmed series…“Personable though I’m sure he is, is so overblown, so overrated. I mean, Edward Scissorhands. Let’s face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don’t have to do anything. And he didn’t. And subsequently, he’s done even less.”

On Steven Seagal: In 1996, Cox co-starred in Steven Seagal cop thriller The Glimmer Man. The martial artist actor turned international diplomat made a lasting impression… “Steven Seagal is as ludicrous in real life as he appears on screen. He radiates a studied serenity, as though he’s on a higher plane to the rest of us, and while he’s certainly on a different plane, no doubt about that, it’s probably not a higher one.”

On David Bowie: A young David Jones, as he was known at the time, appeared as a soldier in Thames TV series Redcap…“A skinny kid, and not a particularly good actor. He made a better pop star, that much is for certain.

On Quentin Tarantino: “I find his work meretricious. It’s all surface. Plot mechanics in place of depth. Style where there should be substance. I walked out of Pulp Fiction…That said, if the phone rang, I’d do it.”

[From The Big Issue]

He also includes stories/gossip about Jonathan Pryce, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Hurt and Michael Gambon. Out of that group… I’m surprised that anyone would come for DDL?? It’s possible that the DDL gossip is decades-old though, DDL wasn’t always this hyper-revered actor. He used to be a bit messy back in the day. I appreciate his honest assessment of Tarantino’s films, and his admission that he’d still work with QT if he got the call. He’s right about Michael Caine not really having range, although Caine’s limited range IS pretty good (watch The Quiet American, it’s one of his best performances). Ed Norton has had a reputation as a know-it-all tightass for years as well, so that checks out. And he’s totally right about Depp too.

Brian Cox

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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69 Responses to “Brian Cox used his memoir to complain about Ed Norton, Johnny Depp & more”

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  1. AlpineWitch says:

    I’m dying after reading what he said about Depp and Seagal! He’s a treasure 😂

  2. Maria says:

    DDL is a genius but he was SO messy. He broke up with Isabelle Adjani by fax after he got her pregnant, moved in with a personal trainer, then got married to Rebecca Miller without even telling his trainer girlfriend. He seems more mellow and reasonable now.
    That said, I still stan. LOL.

    Cox’s comments are cracking me up.

    • Bananapanda says:

      And Rebecca Miller is messy too! As I recall – After his death it came out that Arther Miller had an institutionalized son and they pretended like Rebecca was an only child. So weird.

      • A. Key says:

        Okay but that’s on Arthur Miller, not her. Why is she messy because of her parents’ mistakes?

    • Lilibetp says:

      I’ll have to seek this out. I can’t stand DDL. The only one of his films I can sit through is Last of the Mohicans and that’s only because of his costars. I find it pretty telling that a so-called “Method” actor spent time off the set with his British costars rather than the Native and First Nations actors playing his adopted family, and reportedly didn’t even speak to the Native extras.

  3. Knish says:

    Oh this was a fun read!

  4. H says:

    I love him. And the Johnny Depp analysis is spot on. And don’t forget it’s Ed-ward, not Ed. I bet he hates that. Haha.

    • Fortuona says:

      That was the reason Edward is not Bruce Banner anymore as Marvel were like f##k this get another guy

  5. Lightpurple says:

    The takedown of Seagal is priceless. Not surprised he went after Michael Gambon, I understand he’s not well-liked.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I agree!! Though I have never watched one Seagal movie, commercial or sitcom, I avoid him like the plague. Why is he an actor?
      As for his take on Caine, I fell in love with him in Educating Rita!! Such a delightful film and a very pleasant storyline!

      Cox seems to have captured everyone to a tee!! I also love how Cox would take an offer from QT! He makes no excuses for his personal feelings.
      I do enjoy watching Cox and he has maintained a strong career!!

  6. Driver8 says:

    Kaiser, I highly recommend Frank Langella’s autobiography if you haven’t read it. He holds NOTHING back. It’s delicious!

  7. girl_ninja says:

    I love this and him!

  8. Amy Bee says:

    He’s not wrong about anything he said.

  9. mimic says:

    Of course, he’s right about Edward Norton, but I love the man unabashedly and think he’s brilliant. I believe I have seen The Painted Veil (an underrated gem with the equally compelling Naomi Watts), dozens of times!!

    • Annetommy says:

      Totally agree on Ed Norton Mimic, from Primal Fear onwards he’s just outstanding. Definitely should have won Best Actor Oscar for American History X.

      • mimic says:

        Totally! I thought he did a great job directing Motherless Brooklyn, too. Big fan of the book, and although he took poetic license with it, I thought the movie was so well done.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ mimic, I love that movie!!! Naomi was phenomenal in it, as well as Norton!! It’s such a dramatic movie with so much told, very well, as well as excellent acting, filming locations and the story line.

      • mimic says:

        Yay! I love hearing about people loving that movie as much as I do. Naomi was exceptional! And, at least in this case, although I love the novella on which it’s based, the movie has a redemption and forgiveness arc that I absolutely prefer!

    • deering24 says:

      The 25th Hour was a career-best for him and Spike Lee both. Terrific work.

      • Eve says:


        Agree about Norton’s best movie to date (25th Hour — also, Terence Blanchard’s best collaboration with Lee, it ALWAYS brings me to tears).

        Disagree when it comes to Spike Lee’s best work. In my not so humble opinion, nothing beats Inside Man.

      • CapPhD says:

        Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn” is fantastic & very underrated.

  10. smcollins says:

    Brian Cox played Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter a few years before Anthony Hopkins took over the role in Silence of the Lambs, and I remember reading an interview with BC where he was piiiiissed about the “recast”. And, speaking of Edward Norton, he starred in Red Dagon which was a remake of Manhunter (well, a second adaptation of the book as opposed to a “remake”). Just some fun movie trivia for your Friday 😁

    • Eve says:


      Unnecessary remake, in my opinion.

      But it’s funny you should mention that about Red Dragon.

      Because I think Hopkins doesn’t have nice things to say about Norton either. Norton, the Know-It-All, who would appear on set with rewritten entre pages of dialogues from both his character *AND* Hopkins’s.

      • Eve says:

        *entire pages (…).

      • smcollins says:

        He’s notorious for that. The director of American History X reportedly wanted his name taken off the movie because of EN exerting so much control and trying to take over. It’s kind of interesting that he’s lasted as long as he has considering his reputation.

      • Eve says:


        You see…I’m a former (Norton) fan so there’s probably nothing you can tell me I don’t already know. Really. Since Primal Fear.

        I loved him. I did. I excused his f*ck ups. Till the day he messed with something I loved more: The Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner (my childhood hero — to this day). You can find all my posts here about the saga since BEFORE the whole first Avengers casting drama began.

        But I’ll summarize it for you, as the disgruntled, former fan I am: I have plenty of reasons to hate this f*cker and really thank the day he decided to against producer Kevin Feige. Huuuuuuuuuge mistake.

      • Eve says:


        By the way, try not to take this personally, please.

        It’s just…it’s just that…I have a feeeeever. And the only prescription is taking Edward Norton down with more cowbell!!!

      • smcollins says:

        Not at all! I totally agree with everything you said. And I appreciate the cowbell reference (hands down my all-time favorite SNL skit, obviously, but I also always loved any skit featuring Stefan 😉).

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        @smcollins- Wes Anderson sure seems to like Norton. And he is great in those comical films like Grand Budapest & Moonlight Kingdom.

      • Sudie says:

        Manhunter was the BEST! And agree they didn’t need a remake or new adaption. I need to watch it again although it’s creepy as hell and usually ends up scaring me right before I go to bed.

      • Eve says:


        I think you meant The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom.

      • Eve says:



        I mean, come on! Cox played a perfect Hannibal Lecter. Sadistic, dangerous, vicious, charming and yes, scary as hell.

        There’s only one actor whose performance as the infamous cannibal I consider better than his and that is Mads Mikkelsen.

  11. Oh_Dear says:

    I read somewhere that he is Scottish and this fits with Scottish dry humour. I have no idea how true but when I read those excerpts through that lens, some seem friendly and comical (like his comment about Michael Cain). The rest seem accurate

    • Yvette says:

      @Oh_Dear … Brian Cox ‘is’ Scottish. Paul Greengrass, Director of three of the four Bourne films, said working with Brian Cox during “The Bourne Supremacy” was a delight, mainly because “He’s Scottish and I’m British so that was quite fun.” Evidently, as a joke during filming (I hope) Brian Cox would sometimes loudly say “Oh, the Brit wants us to do it this way.” 🙂

  12. WithTheAmerican says:

    I LOVE this so much. And that he is taking down (so eloquently and succinctly too) these puffed up men is just delicious.

    “Steven Seagal is as ludicrous in real life as he appears on screen. He radiates a studied serenity, as though he’s on a higher plane to the rest of us, and while he’s certainly on a different plane, no doubt about that, it’s probably not a higher one.”

  13. Michael says:

    I love that Brian Cox punches up not down. Everybody he talks about is powerful and has a platform to defend themselves. He is also correct in my opinion about most of them

  14. Spaniard says:

    Brilliant. He is so underrated it hurts, hope the success of Succession (amazing show) gives him the recognition he deserves. Looking forward for this book 👏🏻👏🏻

  15. Case says:

    I love how he said that about Tarantino but also said he’d answer his call if it ever came. I don’t think it’s going to now!

  16. Barbie1 says:

    How dare he about Michael Caine but I will be buying his book lol. He really hates Depp omg. Bashing Quentin is always delightful. Can’t wait to read it.

    • Courtney B says:

      Yeah, I disagree with Caine not having range. He does. But I think as he’s gotten older he takes roles where he doesn’t need it. He’s always great, doesn’t phone it in, but he wasn’t looking to test himself either. I screamed at the Depp comments. 😂 I never really liked him in anything and hated ES and thought I was the only one who didn’t ‘get it’.

  17. Eve says:

    Eh…someone I love (Brian Cox) saying something absolutely right* about someone I abhor (Edward “I’ll rewrite everything” Norton).

    Nothing new here.

    *I’ve heard/read stories about Norton being a jerk to people on set, off set and fans in general. So not sure about Cox calling him a “nice lad”.

  18. Tiffany says:

    I might have to check this book out.

  19. Lola says:

    Best line of Long Kiss Goodnight
    I submit to you that there is nothing there worth more than an hour’s attention. I should think that whatever he is attempting to dislodge is either gone for good, or there to stay.

  20. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    When you’re right you’re right. F*ck Off.

  21. Cora says:

    In the book, Cox has nice things to say about Keanu Reeves which is sweet. He called him a “seeker” who has “actually become rather good over the years”.

    • Liz says:

      He also has some lovely things to say about Alan Rickman:

      “One of the sweetest, kindest, nicest and most incredibly smart men I’ve ever met. Prior to acting he’d been a graphic designer and he brought the considered, laser-like precision of that profession to his work.”

  22. teecee says:

    I guess I will dissent because I think his comment about Michael Caine is jerky. It’s not like Caine is thought of as this incredible actor – everyone knows he’s got a schtik – and Caine himself doesn’t put on airs or anything, so making that comment is unnecessary. At least he could have phrased it differently. In that way, I do think he was punching down. And I wish he used this moment to draw attention to actors he thought were underrated, particularly those who are not straight white men. He’s an elder, so his public praise of those actors would carry some weight, especially in British theatre circles. A wasted opportunity to raise people up, instead of just knocking them down.

  23. Lilly (with the double-L) says:

    I believe I need to read this and, well, no lies detected thus far. I forgot how much I love autobiographies in the movie-making realm. I realized I read Ingrid Bergman’s awhile back and she talked about using glycerin for tears and not understanding Liza Minnelli (I think), having to cry, or wanting to learn how, to cry real tears. I.A.L. Diamond had a good autobiography too and his work with Billy Wilder. I guess I love the old Hollywood dish. LOL. Like many during the pandemic, my reading has fallen off and I have a lack of concentration for it, so if this brings it back, I’ll be very happy.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Lilly (with the double-L), I am of the same mind. I adore older movies and ANY Billy Wilder movie is certainly a great watch!!
      Billy Wilder was incredibly talented and every movie that Wilder was attached to as a director/producer/screenwriter was brilliantly done!!

      Now I am thinking of reading Ingrid Bergman’s biography as well! My gosh, she was stunning and such an incredible artist!! Her daughter is still stunning!! I would love those genes of Bergman/Rossellini!!

  24. Izzy says:

    I will definitely be reading this book.

  25. Chicken says:

    I love Brian Cox forever because of his participation in Super Troopers. I still yell, “Ursula, I’m NAKED” on a fairly regular basis.

  26. tealily says:

    This is hilarious. And HE’S NOT WRONG!

  27. Betsy says:

    I can’t think that I know who this person is, but reading this article was worth it for the Bronson Pinchot link. I love dirt.

    • FrontPorchSittin says:

      YES. I appreciated that link – I’ve loved BP since Perfect Strangers. I thought it was interesting that there was another story about DW being a jerk, given that the EP/DW issue has been well-covered recently. EP may be a piece of work, but it sounds like Denzel might be as well.

  28. deering24 says:

    Have to heartily disagree with him about Bowie. He was terrific in The Prestige and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. And he was a hoot in Labyrinth…🤪🤪🤪

  29. Monica says:

    I imagine I would love to hang around with Brian Cox, hoping to stay on his good side!

  30. A. Key says:

    I mean, Depp’s personal life aside, I think he did a great job as Jack Sparrow. Edward Scissorhands was more about the imaginative and innovative story than the acting. But Pirates of the Caribbean was all about Depp’s funny take on his character. Not Oscar-worthy, but still fun and creative. Without him, that movie never would have gotten any sequels.

  31. Gobo says:

    What a Delicious Bitch.

  32. Jenn says:

    Lol, bitchyyyy. I really love him, so I can never be mad. I’ll buy his book, obviously.

    In defense of Johnny Depp (god, you can’t even type that anymore, ha), in latter years he’d constantly ask Tim Burton to cover him in makeup and Burton was like “if you’re a decent actor you can act without makeup,” so no, he was not always doing an Edward Scissorhands thing. I actually agree about Michael Caine, but I’m a dumb contrarian.

    Finally, of course Brian Cox would love to be in a Tarantino movie!! Cox is the lead psychopath in what is often considered the most ultraviolent videogame ever made, called MANHUNT (Rockstar Games, 2003), and it’s actually a total work of art, one of the most interesting and extremely controversial games ever made. In it, a snuff film director (Cox) commands you (the player) to kill or be killed. Again, it’s one of the greatest games ever made — it utilized a microphone, so that if the player accidentally cried out, a bunch of grunts would chase the player down — but a whole lot of people *and governments* rallied to censor or ban the game.

  33. rainbowkitty says:

    LOOOOOLLL… what he said about Depp and Segal… I can’t LOL