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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Brian Cox

12.26.2016

 Last week, we took a look at the career of character actor Brendan Gleeson, so this week, we owe it to another of his prolific peers to highlight his mighty accomplishments in front of the camera...

 Brian Cox

brian cox deadwood

Brian Cox is probably my favorite working character actor. Never a huge presence on the silver screen until he reached middle age, his work ethic puts predecessors of his in the pantheon of “always-there” guys like Gene Hackman and Michael Caine to shame. He’s got six movies due out in 2017, and in 2016 he managed five movies, two guest spots on “Penny Dreadful”, a co-starring role in the mini-series version of “War & Peace” and a full run on “Medicis: Masters of Florence”, which just hit Netflix.

brian cox super troopers

Despite his output, Cox is never on autopilot, bringing gravitas and skill to things like the recent THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE. The guy works a lot, but he always delivers. Quite frankly, if I’m waffling on seeing a movie, Cox’s name alone in the cast list is enough to get me watching. Heck, I even gave “The Slap” a look on NBC.

brian cox braveheart

Cox has been around a long time, and God willing he’ll be around a lot longer, although I wish he’d get a couple more leads, as he’s pretty much always the most interesting person on-screen, so why not make him the star? He can kind of do it all, from drama like L.I.E or the underrated THE GOOD HEART, to action flicks like THE BOURNE IDENTITY, sci-fi like X2: X-MEN UNITED (he’s still the best William Stryker), and even comedy, showing some major chops in SUPER TROOPERS and THE CAMPAIGN. Gimme more Cox!

His Best Work
brian cox manhunter

Did you know that Brian Cox originated the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (or as he’s called here, Lecktor) on the big screen? Indeed, Cox is playing the Anthony Hopkins part in Michael Mann’s incredible MANHUNTER, which to me is the definitive work based on Thomas Harris’s novels (I even place it above THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS). While I won’t argue that Cox is better than Anthony Hopkins in the part, he’s certainly different, playing the part far more down-to-earth, and in a way scarier based on how normal he seems.

His Most Overrated Work
brian cox  red

Brian Cox actually appeared in two movies called RED. One is the Bruce Willis vehicle, the other is a low-budget Lucky McKee drama where he plays a man avenging his dead dog. The one that’s overrated, naturally, is the Willis vehicule. Sure, it’s a fun film (I don’t think it needed a sequel though) but it’s depressing how Cox was forced to more-or-less play second fiddle to the rest of the cast. I wish he’d gotten a meatier part, but at least he got to romance Helen Mirren.

His Most Underrated Film
brian cox the escapist

Before RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (which also featured Cox), director Rupert Wyatt helmed a low-key prison flick called THE ESCAPIST, starring Cox as a veteran prisoner looking to break out in order to see his dying daughter. It’s a rare lead for him, but he nails it, evoking the character’s heartbreak and strong will. The ensemble is just as good in this, with Damian Lewis (pre-“Homeland”) as the deranged villain, and Joseph Fiennes cast against type as a muscle-bound gang member. If you haven’t heard of this one, check it out.

His Best Scene

Back to MANHUNTER. I was tempted to throw in Cox’s cool cameo in BRAVEHEART, but I can’t get over how impeccably shot and acted his mano-a-mano with William Petersen’s Will Graham is. For fun, watch this and compare it to the equivalent scene in RED DRAGON and see how campy the latter seems.

His Five Best Roles

5. ZODIAC
4. RUSHMORE
3. 25TH HOUR
2. BRAVEHEART
1. MANHUNTER

Up Next

Cox is a busy fellow, with a whale of a part playing the lead in an upcoming Winston Churchill biopic (which goes up against the bigger budget Joe Wright one with Gary Oldman), as well as a part as Marlon Brando (good casting) in the controversial BBC biopic, “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon”, SUPER TROOPERS 2, and a lead in a proposed HBO show from Adam McKay.

Source: JoBlo.com

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