Scots actor Brian Cox reveals worries over right-wing rise in UK and America

Actor Brian Cox. Picture: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Actor Brian Cox. Picture: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
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Brian Cox, the Scottish actor famous for playing hard-men characters and the first Hannibal Lecter, has admitted he is frightened by the surge in popularity of right-wing politics in Britain and America.

Speaking ahead of filming in Scotland of the HBO series Succession, in which he plays an American media mogul, the US-based actor Cox branded Donald Trump “The Pink Pinnochio” President.

But Cox, 72, also cited a “zeitgeist of dissatisfaction” for the rise of right-wing politicians, which he said had placed both countries in “peril.”

Cox, one of the most high-profile backers of Scottish independence, praised Nicola Sturgeon as a “straight honest women” but suggested the SNP had been experiencing problems building support for independence due to the UK’s “crazy” political climate.

In an in-conversation event at Dundee Rep theatre, where Cox worked from the age of 14, he revealed he wanted to make a film on Dundee’s forgotten cinema star, William Duncan, one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood’s silent era.

Cox said that two episodes of Succession, in which he plays Logan Roy, the Scots-born head of a dysfunctional family, will be shot in the next few weeks, in Glasgow and his native Dundee, where his character is also from.

However Cox joked with the audience at Dundee Rep that he would be urging the writers on the show to alter the script for the forthcoming episodes as his character is so disparaging about his home city, where Cox was born in 1946. Cox recalled his “tragic” childhood, which saw his mother suffer a nervous breakdown after the death of his father when he was just eight.

He won a place at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, before spells with the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, Birmingham Rep, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. Cox made his movie breakthrough as Lecter in Michael Mann’s Manhunter in 1986 and went on to star in Braveheart and Rob Roy. But he did not relocate to the US until the mid-1990s, starring in The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Bourne Identity, X-Men 2, Adaptation and Troy.

Asked about his latest political views, Cox said: “My Scottishness is very who I am. There never used to be any nationalism in me. I have come to believe in Scottish independence. I was very much the opposite before.

“As the UK gets crazier and crazier, I’m looking for some sensibility and getting back to some values of community, which have kind of gone out of our politics altogether. The one thing about Nicola Sturgeon is she is a straight honest woman. They (the SNP) have had their problems and they still have their problems. It’s a very difficult time.

“I love playing Scottish characters and long may I continue to do so. But as a child I always talked in an American accent. I enjoy playing American characters enormously. But living in America has its problems, as you can imagine, with the man I call the Pink Pinnochio. It must be really hard for people in the Western Isles (where his mother was born).

“There is a kind of zeitgeist of disaffection here and in the US. It is also about people who have been ignored in a way to the peril of both countries at large. We see that with Brexit and what is happening with the move to a more right-wing state in America. It’s kind of scary.”