Brian Cox says ‘class-ridden’ system drove him to support Scottish independence

·3-min read
Brian Cox (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)
Brian Cox (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

Succession star Brian Cox has said the “class-ridden” and “feudal” system of the UK drove him to support Scottish independence.

The Dundee-raised actor, who stars as foul-mouthed media mogul Logan Roy in the hit HBO series, said it had taken him “many years” to come to the conclusion during an appearance at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

He singled out the background of public school-educated actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Dominic West and Eddie Redmayne and questioned whether he would be able to have an acting career if he was starting out today.

I think it is still class-ridden, it is still feudal, it is still everybody in their place. That is why I am keen on my country being free

Brian Cox

Addressing the audience, Cox, 76, said he had been “very lucky” to have “a vision about where I wanted to be in terms of being an actor” since the age of 15.

He added: “The 60s was a period of incredible social mobility because it was after the war, it was the beginning of the end of the Macmillan government and the Profumo crisis that kicked that into touch.

“But it was an extraordinary time. Now, people from my past, they have not the same kind of access, which I think is bloody disgraceful, that they cannot get to what they want to do because of the system that doesn’t help.

People like Benedict Cumberbatch, Dominic West, Eddie Redmayne – they all went to public schools and the public school system has these amazing state-of-the-art theatres and they are usually taught by actors who are now teachers, because their acting didn’t work out.”

Cox said students from fee-paying schools “go to drama school and of course they can afford to pay” before adding: “Now it is hard to get. I couldn’t do it now. I just simply could not do it.”

He added: “I think it is still class-ridden, it is still feudal, it is still everybody in their place. That is why I am keen on my country being free. It has taken me many years to come to that.

“I never believed it. I used to ridicule it like nobody’s business, but when you live with it as long as I have lived with it, and you realise how corrupt it all was – and certainly what we have seen over this last Government, is just appalling, absolutely appalling.”

Brian Cox and his wife Nicole Ansari (Isabel Infantes/PA) (PA Archive)
Brian Cox and his wife Nicole Ansari (Isabel Infantes/PA) (PA Archive)

Cox also joked about the tendency of Succession’s writers to finish their scripts at the last minute, saying: “Getting a script is like getting gold. We usually get the script two days before we start filming.”

Speaking about his character in the show, he added: “What I love about Logan, first of all he is self-made, unlike all those other guys, like Trump, like Murdoch, like Conrad Black, who inherited everything.

“He did it all himself, so there is that impetus which is slightly different from their impetus.”

Cox also suggested Roy would “hate him” if they ever met.

He said: “If Logan met me he would find me tiresome, boring – ‘I wish that Brian Cox would just shut the f*** up’.”

It was announced earlier in the festival that Cox would be fronting a new Channel 5 two-part documentary, in which he will investigate wealth at opposite ends of the spectrum and explore our complicated relationship with money.

The documentary, which has the working title That’s The Way The Money Goes, will also see Cox tell his own story, from growing up in poverty in Scotland to becoming a Hollywood actor playing one of the richest men on TV.