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Brian Cox Slams Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Wacky Performance’ in ‘Napoleon’: ‘Truly Terrible’

Brian Cox Says Joaquin Phoenix Was Truly Terrible in Napoleon
Brian Cox and Joaquin Phoenix Alan Chapman/Dave Benett/Getty Images; Borja B. Hojas/WireImage

Brian Cox didn’t hold back while sharing his opinion of the 2023 film Napoleon.

“It’s terrible,” Cox, 77, said during London’s HistFest on Sunday, April 14, per The Standard. “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 [director] Ridley Scott helps him.”

Cox added that he “would have played” the titular role “a lot better than” Phoenix, 49. “I think he’s well-named. Joaquin, wackeen, wacky. It’s sort of a wacky performance,” he said.

This is not the first time the Succession alum has dragged a fellow actor. In his 2021 memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, Cox called Johnny Depp “so overblown” and “overrated,” citing the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands.

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“Let’s face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don’t have to do anything. And he didn’t,” Cox wrote of Depp’s performance in the Tim Burton movie. “And subsequently, he’s done even less.”

Elsewhere in the book, Cox wrote that Steven Seagal, whom he starred alongside in 1996’s The Glimmer Man, is “as ludicrous in real life as he appears on screen.”

He continued: “He radiates a studied serenity, as though he’s on a higher plane to the rest of us. And while he’s certainly on a different plane, no doubt about that, it’s probably not a higher one.”

Brian Cox Says Joaquin Phoenix Was Truly Terrible in Napoleon
Joaquin Phoenix in “Napoleon” AppleTV

Cox has also criticized his Succession costar Jeremy Strong’s use of method acting.

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“It’s f—king annoying. Don’t get me going on it,” he said during a February interview with Town & Country. Despite his blunt remarks about Strong’s creative process, Cox emphasized that Strong, 45, is “f—king gifted” as an actor.

“He’s a very good actor, and the rest of the ensemble is all OK with this. But knowing a character and what the character does is only part of the skill set,” he said.“He’s still that guy, because he feels if he went somewhere else he’d lose it. But he won’t! Strong is talented. … When you’ve got the gift, celebrate the gift. Go back to your trailer and have a hit of marijuana, you know?”

Strong, who played Cox’s son in Succession, reacted to the comments during a February 2023 GQ profile.

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“Everyone’s entitled to have their feelings,” he said. “I also think Brian Cox, for example, he’s earned the right to say whatever the f—k he wants.”

Cox doubled down on his takedown of method acting during HistFest on Sunday.

“That’s all bollocks. It’s a kind of nonsense. We’re transmitters. That’s what we are as actors. We transmit energy,” he said.

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