Rarely do movie stars find the most fame in their career when they’re eligible for retirement homes, especially in today’s times of rapid social media-fueled stardom and decreasing attention spans. Succession star Brian Cox, however, is the exception that proves the rule.
Despite now being in his 70s, Cox, who began working in theater in the late 60s and television in the early 70s, is more famous than he’s ever been thanks to his already iconic, career-defining role as Logan Roy — a King Lear for the modern ages — in Succession.
Given both his newfound fame and previously prolific acting career, there’s something of a phenomenon going on: movie fans, myself included, are noticing him in films for the first time despite having already seen the movies in question before. Take me watching 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
watching one of the new Planet of the Apes and just yelped when I saw Brian Cox pop up
wonder how many movies we're going to retroactively notice him in pic.twitter.com/pdDLOME3fv
— Eric Italiano (@ericitaIiano) April 5, 2023
So, instead of just tweeting into the ether about it, I decided to use my position as a pop culture writer to actually do something about it and look into all of the films that Cox has been in over the years that we’re perhaps just noticing now.
Movies you might not have realized Brian Cox is in, 1985-2001
For example, did you know Cox starred as Dr. Hannibal Lecter before Anthony Hopkins did? Not only that, but it was in a film directed by the legendary Michael Mann: 1986’s Manhunter. He starred as Argyle Wallace in Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning Braveheart, and alongside Samuel L. Jackson in The Long Kiss Goodnight.
There he was in Wes Anderson’s feature film debut Rushmore as Dr. Nelson Guggenheim, before starring as the ornery yet lovable Captain John O’Hagen in the 2001 stoner comedy cult classic Super Troopers.
Movies you might not have realized Brian Cox is in, 2002-2005
From there, he’d star alongside Dennis Quaid in The Rookie, Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity, and Nicolas Cage in Adaptation. He helped usher in the modern age of comic book movies by playing the villainous William Stryker in X2: X-Men United and starred alongside a bevy of glitzy A-listers in Troy.
The Bourne franchise kept him around for 2004’s Supremacy, which was followed up in films such as Woody Allen’s Match Point, Wes Craven’s Red Eye, and the Johnny Knoxville comedy The Ringer all in the year 2005.
Movies you might not have realized Brian Cox is in, 2006-20013
He’s got a role in David Fincher’s masterpiece Zodiac and Ryan Murphy’s Running with Scissors. A couple of years later, he’s alongside Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich in the action comedy Red.
He voices the character Dan Peabody in Wes Anderson’s George Clooney-starring stop-motion project Fantastic Mr. Fox, and portrays one of the human antagonists in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He’s cracking jokes with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in 2012’s The Campaign, got a check for the sequel to Red, and provided his voice for Spike Jonze’s Her in 2013.
The sequel to Red rolled around in 2013, as did the sequel to Super Troopers in 2018, which, finally, is the year Succession — the defining role of his career — premiered on HBO.
And those are just his movies! Over the years, he also appeared (or provided his voice) in notable television series such as Superman: The Animated Series, Frasier, Deadwood, Doctor Who, Penny Dreadful, The Simpsons, and, of course, Succession.
There are also the iconic roles he *almost* played, too. During an interview a few years back, he also said he turned down the role of Mad-Eye Moody in the Harry Potter franchise (eventually played by fellow UK acting legend Brendan Gleeson) and Robert Baratheon in season one of Game of Thrones.
Regardless of those decades of work, given that Succession seems to be positioning himself as one of the all-time great television shows, it’s likely that Cox’s legacy will begin and end with Logan Roy.
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