Brian Cox on Method acting: ‘I don’t put up with all that American sh-t’

It’s funny, to me, that Brian Cox has become the de facto face of Succession’s promotion. The show is an ensemble, and while Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin do promote the show, Cox does far more interviews and makes much more news. Jeremy Strong, on the other hand, has done ONE magazine interview and he was so vulnerable, I doubt they’ll ask him to do much more. So, Cox it is. It’s also funny that Cox’s Succession patriarch, Logan Roy, spends most of the show criticizing and bullying his children and then… Cox kind of does the same thing to the actors and characters in his interviews. Who’s the Method actor now?? Speaking of, Brian Cox chatted with Variety recently about how much he hates Jeremy Strong’s Method acting? This show is an ouroboros. Some highlights:

Cox loves that Succession is ending this season: “[Jesse Armstrong’s] very disciplined in that way, and also he’s very British in that way. 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.”

What his fictional kids would do with Logan’s throne: “They would absolutely destroy it. 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.” Roman is “the gifted one,” but he did accidentally send Logan that d-ck 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.”

Cox on his public back-and-forth with Jeremy Strong over Method acting: “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. I don’t put up with all that American sh-t. I’m sorry. All that sort of ‘I think, therefore I feel.’ Just do the job. Don’t identify.”

He worked with Daniel Day Lewis: 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!’ Of course, Jeremy was Dan Day-Lewis’ assistant. So he’s learned all that stuff from Dan.”

[From Variety]

My take is that at the root of Cox publicly criticizing Jeremy Strong is Cox’s honest affection for Strong as a person. Cox is an older actor who has worked with everyone, and he’s trying to tell Strong: you don’t have to pour your entire soul into every character, you’ll burn out, please take care of yourself. Only Cox is, again, too much like Logan Roy to actual say those words of “I love you, please take care of yourself,” so it manifests this way, with Cox publicly bullying the actor who plays his son.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, Instar.

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20 Responses to “Brian Cox on Method acting: ‘I don’t put up with all that American sh-t’”

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  1. Lisa says:

    I think he is expressing exasperation with Strong but as you say he does have affection for him. It’s a bit off form to criticise another actor’s way into a part as I’m sure there are many different techniques and weird habits/rituals. He is side eyeing DDL a bit here too.

  2. WingKingdom says:

    Geez, how nice for men whose roles are getting better and better after 55.

  3. equality says:

    So he criticizes method acting as “American” and points to Daniel Day-Lewis as an example? If he’s over America, he is more than welcome to move on. I’m over old white people from the UK who think they are superior. And he thinks Americans “milk” things?

    • Emme says:

      Well, @equality, Method Acting WAS created by an American…IN America!!

      • equality says:

        NOPE. Try again. First credited to RUSSIAN theatre actor Konstantin Stanislavski. Further developed in the US and also independently developed in India.

      • Emme says:

        Strasberg built on the achievements of Stanislavski, using his own experiences as both a teacher and a director to further develop exercises and to develop his own technique which was called The Method. Consequently it’s practitioners were labelled “Method Actors”. So, “Method Acting” WAS created in America as I stated.

      • equality says:

        Wow. Someone can’t handle being wrong. My point to begin with though was that he referenced a BRIT during his complaining.

    • Emme says:

      @equality, thank you, I accept your apology.

  4. ML says:

    It would have been lovely if Brian Cox had been a bit more specific is his criticisms of method acting. Interesting that he’s calling out certain MEN for doing so? And, as Wingkingdom stated above, how nice that Brian Cox has had access to more interesting roles from age 55.

  5. crogirl says:

    “so it manifests this way, with Cox publicly bullying the actor who plays his son.”

    He is not bullying him, just criticising method acting.

  6. TwinFalls says:

    I love Succession but I’m getting tired of the grumpy guy knows best-ness of Brian Cox. Where’s Kieran Culkin? Roman is the most interesting of the Roy kids.

    • Jo says:

      Ronan is one of the filthiest characters I have seen in a while. As in, truly disturbing, and therefore immensely entertaining. Kieran Culkin is perfect as Ronan. But I find all the actors absolutely impeccable, including grumps Brian Cox, whose comments I find delightful.

  7. JustStop says:

    The very British Andrew Lincoln was well-known for screaming and punching things to hype himself up prior to big scenes on the set of The Walking Dead. I don’t think BS is just an American thing. But a lot of actors maintain a certain level of intensity on set without reaching Jared Leto levels of impacting other actors and crew. That seems to be all Jeremy does.

    • Bambi says:

      Totally. I don’t get the hate for method acting. Acting is a creative field and like any creative field people have different approaches to their craft. Maybe DDL quit because he found other things to focus on and it has nothing to do with Method Acting. Jane Fonda isn’t method and (I’m pretty sure) she quit acting for over a decade before she returned. Maybe DDL will return, maybe he won’t; either way he achieved accolades which I assume he’d give some credit to Method Acting for. And to my understanding he’s an example of how Method Acting doesn’t require negatively impacting co-workers.
      Having different approaches to a creative craft makes for a more interesting world imo. I think I’d be more interested in Cox’s opinion on acting if he explained it with more nuance.

  8. Wilma says:

    I’m not a fan of Brian Cox his work, so I find it funny that he thinks he’s in a position to decide what acting method is best.

    • kirk says:

      I don’t watch Succession, but I’m sure I’ve seen him playing some disagreeable character elsewhere. Doing all these interviews opining on the proper way to do acting seems like he’s kinda milking it, yeah?

  9. LyZy says:

    I’m done with all this negativity from Brian Cox who by the way I admire as an actor and whatever his “method” is to get to the truth of his character. I just wish he had more respect and humanity for other actors and their methods of choice. His comments smack of a little bit of jealousy at what others have accomplished. If he were more caring he would keep his opinions between him and the other actors involved. I haven’t noticed any of them going after him publicly.

  10. jgerber says:

    It’s also rich that he doesn’t put up with “American shit” when he is working in the very country whose shit he is not putting up with– pretty arrogant indeed. And no, if I were working in England, I would not wax poetic about not putting up with any “English shit” I didn’t like. Just so rude, entitled, and, shall I say it?– putting a foot wrong (yes. the ultimate English criticism).