Brian Cox Interview: ‘Succession’
It would be easy to describe Logan Roy’s actions on the HBO series, “Succession,” as being dastardly, but for Brian Cox, the actor who portrays him, it’s not that simple. “He doesn’t think in those terms. It’s a needs must situation constantly.” Cox uses the British phrase “needs must” in our recent webchat (watch the video above) to describe something that is done reluctantly but with an acceptance that it can’t be prevented. Cox believes that Logan does love his children but that in order to protect the empire that he has built from nothing, he has to test them because he doesn’t want them to destroy what he has spent a lifetime building.
“Succession” follows the Roy family and their family owned media conglomerate. Cox’s Logan Roy is the man who built the giant magnate who many thought would retire after his 80th birthday, including his adult children: Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Siobhan (Sarah Snook). But he surprises them by announcing that he doesn’t plan on leaving, throwing the lives of all his children into chaos. Cox, already an Emmy winner in 2001 for Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for his performance in “Nuremberg,” is looking to break into the Drama Lead Actor race for this role.
The show has been praised for being able to combine both comedic and dramatic aspects in how it tells the family’s story and Cox is emphatic about how he’s drawn to both of those elements equally in the way the show is structured. He finds this not just in terms of how he deals with his kids and confronts his own mortality but also “about how people are living today. It’s the disconnect that the rich have from their society and how they try to run it along the way.” He adds, “It like being in a Chaucerian morality play.”
The series does take some of its aspects from real life figures, most notably News Corporation CEO and founder, Rupert Murdoch. The implications of playing a real life character of such prominence was something he came face-to-face with recently while in a cafe in London. A man approached him and said that he enjoyed the show but it was difficult for his wife to watch and when Cox inquired as to who his wife was, he found out it was Elisabeth Murdoch. Cox said of the encounter, “I saw such a picture of the kind of exposure that was happening and how it would infringe on a life. I was very chastened by it because I saw that our job can be quite ruthless but at the same time is supposed to deal with truth but the real truth is always much more complicated.”