Dundee-born Hollywood star Brian Cox has revealed he is to join a global drive to end homelessness - warning that the sight of people sleeping on the streets of major cities was so commonplace it was now “taken for granted” by the public.
The star of the hit HBO series Succession, who is expected to take part in a mass sleep-out event in Edinburgh next month, said action was urgently needed to tackle “desperate” levels of homelessness.
Cox recalled his horror at seeing people sleeping on the streets of London for the first time as a young actor in the early 1980s and blamed the policies of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for the start of the “phenomenon” in the UK.
Cox, who now lives in New York, said the problems with homelessness in the city were now worse than during the “Great Depression” in the 1930s.
Cox was appearing on a breakfast TV show in New York with Josh Littlejohn, the co-founder of the Edinburgh-based social enterprise company Social Bite, which is behind The World’s Big Sleep Out, and has won the backing of Prince Harry, George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprioaprio since its first sandwich shop opened on Rose Street.
Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite’s co-founder, hopes to take extend the mass sleep-out concept, which started life as an event for business leaders in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square, to at least 52 locations around the world on 7 December, including Times Square in New York.
Littlejohn, who is hoping for 50,000 participants for The World’s Big Sleep Out around the world has previously recruited stars like Will Smith, Dame Helen Mirren, Ellie Goulding, Charlotte Church and Travis to make appearances at some of the sleep-out events.
Cox, who played the first on-screen Hannibal Lecter in the 1986 movie Manhunter, is expected to back in Scotland for the first time since he shot scenes for Succession in his native Dundee earlier this year. Also due to appear at the the Edinburgh event are Game of Thrones actor Daniel Portman and Rab C Nesbitt star Gregor Fisher, who is in the city to appear in How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
Appearing alongside Littlejohn on the Good Day New York show, Cox said: “Homeless has really been hovering.
“I remember away back when I was a young actor and was working in Waterloo at the National Theatre in London. I saw right at the beginning of the Thatcher administration - there’s a clue - that suddenly there were these people sleeping.
“That had never been the case in London in all my time there, from when I was a student. I remember seeing it - it was a phenomenon. It was known as ‘cardboard city.’ There was eventually about 300 people there. It happened very quickly.
“There’s now more people homeless in New York now than during the Great Depression.
“We now take homelessness for granted. We really shouldn’t because it is desperate and really bad.”
Littlejohn told the programme: “I want to make a direct appeal to New Yorkers because I know that New York is a really compassionate place. We want New Yorkers to come out and take a stand on the issue, raise a lot of money for charity and create a sense of political urgency around the issue.”