Brian Cox discusses Irish goodbyes & the problem with American actors

SPOILERS for Succession Season 4.

People are still grappling with what happened in the third episode of Succession’s fourth season, “Connor’s Wedding.” What’s funny/sad about Logan Roy’s death is that it was always the raison d’être of a show called “Succession.” It was always supposed to be about Logan Roy’s children and associates grappling with the messy chaos left in the wake of Logan Roy. It just took us more than three seasons to get there. It’s incredible that there are now seven episodes left of the show to give us just that: what happens in the post-Logan era? I strongly suspect that everything will fall apart, from the deal with Matsson, to the presidential election, to the actual company Waystar Royco. The Roy kids are all falling apart too – they don’t know how to exist without their father. Anyway, Brian Cox gave an “exit interview” to the New York Times – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

He got the news about Logan’s death from the show’s creator, Jesse Armstrong. “He called me, and he said, ‘Logan’s going to die,.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’ I thought he would die in about Episode 7 or 8, but Episode 3, I thought … ‘Well that’s a bit early.’ Not that I was bothered.”

What he thought of how Logan died: “Well, they had to end it somehow, and it was Jesse’s choice. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the problem with a lot of television, particularly American television, is it goes past its sell-by date. And the great thing about Jesse and the writers is they wouldn’t do that. It was difficult for them because it wasn’t easy to bring this to an end. And I think Jesse found it sad — at the premier, somebody shouted out, “Well, if it was so sad, why did you do it?” But I think there are lots of reasons for Jesse finishing it. And I applaud the fact that he did that. It was courageous because everybody loves the show. Always leave the party when it’s at its height, not when it’s going down.

The Irish goodbye: “I just think that’s what makes the show. You think about “Game of Thrones,” when they didn’t know what they were doing at the end, and they had an ending which was not really satisfactory. And the audience was furious. The audience [for “Succession”] might be furious; they might miss Logan and say, “Oh, what are you doing killing off one of the most interesting characters?” But it’s fine by me. I’m doing a lot of other stuff. I’m going back to the theater. I’m going to hopefully direct my first movie in my grand old age. And I’m doing “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in London [in spring 2024]. So I know what I’m going to be doing probably till next summer.

Logan’s death changes the stakes: “It does change the stakes. The main protagonist is gone. And the kids are having to deal with it, or not. I think it’s going to be hard next week for a lot of the audience because they’re going to miss Logan. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing — I think that’s actually quite a good thing. Logan was coming to a rest point anyway. He realized that his children were never going to be — he’s got that great line when he says, “I love you, but you’re not serious people.” And I think that is so fundamental. The whole premise is really about entitlement and the rich and the fact that he’s plowed this particular furrow. And the consequences of that plowing are these kids and how [expletive] up they are, not necessarily because of him, but because of the wealth. They all suffer from entitlement in one form or another. And they behave like entitled spoiled brats a lot of the time.

On Method acting: “The problem with the Method thing is … I think [acting] is a lighter thing. You have to be more deft in your acting — still be in it, still be committed very deeply to it, but you’ve got to be able to turn on a dime. You’ve got to be able to drop it and come back. Otherwise, it becomes just like walking constipation.

The problem with American actors: “[Actors] think it’s about, “Oh, I just subsumed myself in the character and then I live it 24/7.” A real problem that America has — and I think it’s also what our show is about — is that America is only interested in the pursuit of individualism at the expense of community. When you look at the European theater, it’s all about community and groups who have dug in and have kept going year after year after year. America hasn’t done that. It’s the ensemble, the community that’s important in any project that you’re working on as actors. You have to create the community and you have to behave toward the community; it’s not about your, “I have to do this; I only can do it this way.”

[From The New York Times]

Logan’s line, “I love you, but you’re not serious people” is especially amazing considering it was one of the final things he said to his children the night before he passed away. It’s one of those lines which will echo through the rest of the season, reminiscent (I believe) of Tom telling Kendall last season: “I’ve seen you get f–ked a lot, and I’ve never seen Logan get f–ked once.” Anyway, I’m still blown away by the bold choice of killing off THE patriarch in the third episode of the final season. That’s such a confident move from Jesse Armstrong and the writers too – the fact that they’ve given themselves enough time to tell the story of “succession,” the story of what happens post-Logan. It will be one catastrophe after another, given that Logan never set up his children to succeed on their own. He spent their entire lives teaching them to keep secrets from one another, to stab each other in the back, to trust no one.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, HBO/Succession.

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34 Responses to “Brian Cox discusses Irish goodbyes & the problem with American actors”

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  1. Southern Fried says:

    I’m glad they did it now. We’ve got the rest of the episodes to witness his children try to survive. I was tired of Logan’s cruelty, almost skipped Sunday night watching but grudgingly did. Now I’m all in once again like during the first 2 seasons. As for his interview Brian has his opinion and I have mine. Sometimes I wish he’d just shut up.

    • SAS says:

      Yes and he was SO cruel to the end. Whenever people ask me what the show is about I say it’s a phenomenal portrait of abuse.

  2. equality says:

    I’m sure not every show and not every American actor is this homogenous unit that his prejudice wants to make it. His attitude seems to be that only he is right so it’s pretty rich that he is slamming his co-workers. His attitude and interviews are starting to be tedious. I’m over his superior attitude. If things are supposed to be so harmonious and about the ensemble, where is his loyalty? He’s beginning to sound like just another old white man who thinks he knows it all.

  3. Lucía says:

    Sunday can’t come fast enough. I’ll miss seeing Cox on the show, but he went out with a bang. Also, I know it might be a bit too early to talk about the finale, but I have the suspicion (based on his existance alone) that Cousin Greg is hiding something. From the family and from the audience. Maybe not from Logan, though.

    • Molly says:

      I think so too- but I was thinking FBI/DOJ mole?

      • Lucía says:

        Wouldn’t discard any option tbh. But he’s still around for a reason. Something beyond just sitting on the throne (ha ha). Will The Fool be the one who fools them all?

  4. ❌❌❌Tart ❌❌❌ says:

    Downtown Abbey jumped the shark during season two with all the black loving gay accepting characters. Rewriting history. Making only the baddies the misogynistic close minds. Life has always been more nuanced. People you like or even love can do things or have views you abhor. So jumping the shark to milk a show for more money isn’t just an American thing. Include Sherlock in that assessment.

    • ❌❌❌Tart ❌❌❌ says:

      And Luther.

      • kirk says:

        Midsomer Murders.
        Coronation Street (not to mention Britain seems incapable of canceling the original BRF soap opera).

    • Bex says:

      Black American jazz performers were in vogue and everyone was sleeping with everyone. Is it unbelievable that a young rebellious woman would want someone she knew her family would disapprove? Loads of lords, ladies, princes, and princesses, stage and movie actors, artists, writers were gay (and those people were allowed to exist: “lifelong companions”/”confirmed bachelors”. The fact the cousin was allowed to marry a Jewish man would have been more of a taboo, esp prior to WWII. Not to mention her parents’ divorce.

      The problem is that in Western media we’ve been fed a sanitized version of the past where everyone is white, straight, and able-bodied. It replaces the actual history to the point where a British actor will tweet how a war movie set during WWII is “pandering” because Indian, Middle Eastern and African soldiers were shown in the background (DESPITE the UK’s own colonial history and how the government conscripted colonial subjects for the war effort for both world wars).

      • Wilma says:

        Gotta agree with Bex. Lots of stories in everyday history to be found about gay people going about their lives, black people being successful, trans people being accepted etc. Individual people have always been capable of great empathy and acceptance. Society at large and institutions not so much.

      • Concern Fae says:

        Total agree on black and gay people living happy lives in the era. The issue was having all of the main characters be super accepting, because they have to be seen as good people by 21st century people. I read a ton of Agatha Christie as a kid and lots of between the wars fiction, both popular and more literary stuff. People were incredibly prejudiced! There were enough who were not and there were pockets of acceptance.

        What was off about Downtown for me was that they tried to make the Granthams both uphold tradition and be completely open minded. It’s just creating a fake past of white benevolence.

    • H says:

      Oh honey. Just admit that DA spoiled your little revisionist fantasy and be done with it.

  5. MrsBanjo says:

    Oh ffs he needs to stop about method actors. Method acting is stupid but it’s not exclusive to Americans. Heath Ledger, Daniel Day-Lewis, Christian Bale are all very well known extreme method actors and none of them are American. This is tedious at this point.

    • Debbie says:

      He seems like someone who loves (loved)* American money and the international success and fame that can be achieved through America yet who dislikes Americans. Then, just stay in your own country or continent, I day.

      *Don’t know whether he’s dead or alive.

  6. JMmoney says:

    I’ll preface this by saying I’m American and agree with his comments on American television in general. There’s a tendency in American tv and films now to milk a show/franchise for all it’s worth and that means continuing past its sell date. Breaking Bad was an anomaly in that it ended at the height of its popularity and the creator Vincent Gilligan luckily put his foot down despite many big wigs wanting to either charge to see the last episode (Jeffrey Katzenberg) or pressure to continue it which many wanted BB to have another season or two but Vince said no (GoT should have ended by s6).

    Just to be clear this isn’t an insult on Americans but a critique of the American big wigs who run things who would rather milk something bone dry to the point it’s useless and loathed then encouraging it to end on a high. American big wigs in Entertainment put profit as king and don’t get me wrong it’s important but the story brought on by talented writers should be valued more. If it were we would be seeing far better caliber of film and television instead of countless remakes.

    • Bex says:

      American TV has always had long series runs. If you look at when TV shows over the last 60 years debuted and their final episode, you’re see multiple shows with upwards of 10 seasons, most with 22-25 episodes per season. It’s been the business model since the advent of television (and syndication).

      Plus, reboots/remakes are one of the basic elements in Hollywood. So many silent and black & white films were redone when sound and color were introduced. There’s multiple versions of certain films, as well as TV mini-series or TV movie version of those films, etc.

      I don’t believe there isn’t a dearth of creativity or originality in Hollywood. What has happened is TV is finally on par with film when it comes to quality, storytelling, acting, cinematography, directing, and people see it. Original movie content doesn’t have the same cultural impact as original TV, so it gives the perception that Hollywood is focused on remakes when those movies are greenlit, covered in the media extensively, and then make loads of money.

    • teecee says:

      But see, I also think that’s being pig-headedly blind to the realities of life as an artist or creator in America. Our healthcare is tied to our jobs, so of course once creative people get jobs, they try to hold onto them. In fact, a lot of the pace and length of production can be explained by this – we don’t have the safety net the Brits do.

      Plus – when you look at how homogenous British theatrical companies usually are, not just in terms of race but of class, their “collective” mindset isn’t as rosy. It’s 90% white toffs who’ve known each other their whole lives, of course they are chummy. American creative spaces, as cliquey as they are, are FAR less nepotistic than British ones. (And think about that — it’s not like nepo babies don’t exist in the US, but they’re nowhere near the level they are at in the UK.)

  7. Harper says:

    I watched last night, and even though there was so much buzz about how great the episode was, Emmy-quality, and I had glimpsed something that someone died, I didn’t expect Logan would go. It was drama at its most gripping. Although it’s not surprising, as originally Armstrong toyed with Logan dying from his hemorrhage in Season One, but decided it was better to keep him alive. Like a lot of other viewers, I was not sure if it wasn’t a cruel prank when the news came at first. Anyway, I don’t look for Brian Cox to sign on to any more ensembles that include Jeremy Strong. I’ll miss this gang so much.

  8. H says:

    Didn’t we already know that Logan was going to die? I swear that was leaked some time ago. Or maybe it was just predictable. Anyway, I’m not moved by it at all. There was nothing likeable or endearing about Logan and the world within Succession will be better off for his absence. Not sure why everyone’s sad to see him go, tbh.

  9. Norah says:

    Could you please put a spoiler alert in the title on the main page? I’ve been waiting until the series is done to watch the whole thing and clicked through, not realizing… Thanks!

  10. mf says:

    Anyone else find it hilarious that he thinks Logan was the main protagonist of the series?

    It’s pretty clear that Logan was the main *antagonist*. The role of Logan’s character was there to cause conflict between the other characters and between himself and them. But of course, like a typical actor, Cox has to center his own character.

  11. Slush says:

    “ the problem with a lot of television, particularly American television, is it goes past its sell-by date.”

    THIS. THIS THIS THIS. This is one of my major issues with American TV – it so often happens to series that could be amazing with 5 or so seasons – but they nonsensically drag it out at the expense of the story.

    Related, I watched season 1 of Yellowjackets and got the feeling that it will go the way of LOST. Is anyone watching season 2?

  12. Jill says:

    need a Spoiler alert on this! We haven’t watched that part yet and have been avoiding spoliers until now.

  13. Frippery says:

    I’m sorry someone who has reached the level of success that he has still feels the need to trash others and can’t speak more about what makes him *happy* instead of what pisses him off.

  14. HeyKay says:

    Brian Cox is saturating SM, I’m tired of hearing him every day lately.
    I know Succession is his big hit, and he is doing PR but for Dogs sake…..just a few days w/o him would be Welcome.
    Get some new material, tell some new stories, be entertaining.

    I miss the days of Richard Harris, Burton, O’Toole, Albert Finney those actors were fabulous storytellers and were entertaining while they did PR.

  15. Saucy&Sassy says:

    He has interesting points. I couldn’t help but think he needed to spend time in community threater in America if he wants the community and groups who have dug in and have kept going year after year after year. He said America doesn’t have that. The man needs to broaden his horizons.

    • SAS says:

      Yes, I love him but he seems to have entirely forgotten the US also has a storied theatre history. I’m sure there are cultural differences but surely there is no way he could be in an American theatre production and still consider the actors to be individualistic.

  16. Robert Phillips says:

    I’ve seen his face for a long time. But honestly I’ve looked up his IMDB and still haven’t figured out why people are touting him as this huge actor. What am I missing? Yeah he was in some big movies. But never as any of the major characters. And in fact most of them I don’t even remember him being in them. Sure he may be great in this role. But it sounds to me like he’s just playing himself.

  17. AC says:

    Well, as an American it’s good to get some critique. I do agree sometimes a variety of tv shows gets dragged out to the point where the storyline gets ridiculous. But again we live in a country where if ratings are doing well, why stop it, esp if the networks/studios keep getting the advertising dollars. At the same time, there are still sooo many actors from across the pond playing and snatching American roles. Which I’m sure they’re not complaining about. I think Hugh Laurie started that trend when he was in House. I remembered back then so many US audiences were surprised he wasn’t American but praised his acting skills. After him, it was an influx who started to get parts on US shows and movies. But at the same time , once in a while, I miss the authenticity of an American actor actually playing an American role. I mean it’s like a show being filmed in Toronto and acts like NYC, but you know deep down it’s not the authenticity of NYC.. lol…although I know the US thinking is usually the best person should get the part. But imagine if James Bond or Harry Potter was played by an American. All hell will break loose 🙂 .

  18. Bets says:

    Glad he wrote about “community” but its not in the context he thinks. Im an american. I am sick of u.k entertainment. And its because of that “community”. They just hire their friends and family. They use the same people over and over. They REFUSE to give anyone else a chance. Instead of hiring correctly they hire pr firms.
    The singer ed sheeran got flustered about the lack of support at american award shows. But How can you expect your competition to be happy you out spent them. Thats the fundemental difference between u.k and the usa.