‘Terrible Performance’: Brian Cox Rips Joaquin Phoenix’s Napoleon To Shreds

 Joaquin Phoenix in Napoleon and Brian Cox in Succession .
Joaquin Phoenix in Napoleon and Brian Cox in Succession .

Joaquin Phoenix may be regarded as one of the best actors of our generation, but the Oscar winner doesn’t necessarily impress Brian Cox. The Succession lead cast member recently shared his thoughts on Ridley Scott’s latest movie, Napoleon, and he has a strongly negative opinion of Phoenix’s performance as Napoleon Bonaparte in the biopic.

Brian Cox has been known to not stray away from voicing his contrarian thoughts in the past, such as when he threw shade at Johnny Depp by calling him “overblown.” Cox’s latest words of this sort are directed at Joaquin Phoenix. As the 77-year-old actor said:

Terrible. It’s terrible. A truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix. It really is appalling. I don’t know what he was thinking. I think it’s totally his fault and I don’t think Ridley Scott helps him. I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that. You can say it’s good drama. No – it’s lies.

While speaking at the UK’s HistFest (via The Standard) over the weekend, Cox didn’t mince his words when it came to talking about Napoleon. As Cox continued:

I think he’s well named. Joaquin…whackeen... whacky. It’s a sort of whacky performance.

When Napoleon hit theaters last year, it made $221 million worldwide on a reported production budget of $200 million, making for a rather underwhelming commercial release. The movie received mixed reviews overall by critics and audiences alike, with CinemaBlend’s own Napoleon review giving the film three and a half out of five stars. Critics were split on Napoleon, with reviews being polarized on either celebrating and disliking Phoenix’s take on the historical figure. Elsewhere, Ridley Scott’s movie got a lot of love for its battle sequences, but some hits for its lack of accuracy.

Brian Cox is currently on the West End for Long’s Journey Into Night, is set to star in a family drama called Skelly this May, and be a voice in The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim this December. During the conversation with BBC’s Clive Myrie, Cox also commented on other times historical dramas in the past have ignored the history books for the sake of entertainment. As he continued:

Braveheart is a load of nonsense. Mel Gibson was wonderful but it’s a load of lies. He never impregnated the French princess. It is a bollocks [sic] that film.

While Cox put a lot of blame on Phoenix for Napoleon, he called Mel Gibson’s performance in Braveheart “wonderful.” Of course, art is subjective, and one performance that Cox doesn’t like may really work for someone else. Joaquin Phoenix’s achievements as an actor have memorably been celebrated across his career with four acting nominations at the Academy Awards and his 2020 win for Best Actor in Joker. Phoenix is set to play the role once again for the Joker sequel, heading to theaters this fall.

You can watch Napoleon for yourself with an Apple TV+ subscription and decide whether you agree or disagree with Brian Cox.