Brian Cox Biography

(Scottish Actor)

Birthday: June 1, 1946 (Gemini)

Born In: Dundee, Scotland

Scottish actor Brian Cox is known for his illustrious stage, TV, and film career. A trained Shakespearean stage actor, he won 2 Laurence Olivier Awards, while he got his film breakthrough with the role of Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter. His other accolades include a Primetime Emmy for the TV film Nuremberg. He is also known for his performances in the series Deadwood and Succession, with the latter winning him a Golden Globe Award. He has also played voice roles in TV, films, radio, and video games, and has penned several books, including his memoir. He is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and has received multiple honorary doctorates from reputed universities. Initially a Labour Party campaigner, he later joined the Scottish National Party and has also been a prominent supporter of Scottish independence.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Brian Denis Cox

Age: 77 Years, 77 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Nicole Ansari-Cox (m. 2002), Caroline Burt (m. 1968–1986)

father: Charles McArdle Campbell Cox

mother: Mary Ann Guillerline

children: Alan Cox, Margaret Cox, Orson Cox, Torin Kamran Charles Cox

Born Country: Scotland

Actors Scottish Men

More Facts

education: London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

Early Life & Education

Brian Denis Cox was born on June 1, 1946, in Dundee, Scotland, UK, into a working-class Roman Catholic family. He was the youngest of the 5 children of his parents.

While his mother, Mary Ann Guillerline, worked in jute mills as a spinner, his father, Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, initially worked as a police officer and later as a shopkeeper and butcher. Cox has Irish roots from his father and both Irish and Scottish roots from his mother.

His mother suffered many nervous breakdowns when Coz was a child, while he lost his father to pancreatic cancer at age 8. Coz was raised by his 3 elder sisters.

Cox initially attended the St. Mary's Forebank Primary School and then the St. Michael's Junior Secondary School. He quit school and worked at Dundee Repertory Theatre for a few years. At age 17, he joined the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), from where he graduated in 1965.

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Stage Career

Starting his career with the Dundee Repertory Theatre at age 14, he later co-founded the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. He also later performed at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and, in 1967, made his West End debut as Orlando in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he established himself as a Shakespearean actor, performing with both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. In 1983, he played the Duke of Burgundy in King Lear. The following year, he played Inspector Nelson in a production of Rat in the Skull. The same year, he received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a New Play.

In 1985, Cox made his Broadway debut at the Nederlander Theatre, playing Edmund Darrell in Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude. The role got him a British Theatre Association Drama Award for Best Actor.

In May that year, Cox also appeared in his first off-Broadway play, portraying Inspector Nelson in Rat in the Skull at the Public Theater. He also bagged 2 more Laurence Olivier nominations, for Misalliance in 1984 and for Fashion in 1988.

In 1988, his performance in Titus Andronicus earned him another Laurence Olivier Award. In the early 1990s, he taught and directed at the Moscow Arts Theatre School and toured with the Royal National Theatre, playing the titular role in King Lear.  In 1998, he went back to the off-Broadway stage, winning a Lucille Lortel Award, along with nominations for a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award.

From 2000 to 2019, he performed at Broadway and at London's West End. During this time, he appeared in plays such as productions of Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n Roll and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

TV and Film Career

Cox first gained attention in the early 1970s, with his appearances in several TV films. In 1986, he played Hannibal Lecter in the thriller movie Manhunter. He thus became the first actor to portray the character on screen.

Through the 1990s, Cox was seen in numerous films and series. In 1991, he portrayed Owen Benjamin in the BBC adaptation of David Leavitt's 1986 novel The Lost Language of Cranes. The role got him a BAFTA nomination for the Best Actor in 1993.

He played Geoffrey Harrison in the TV thriller Red Fox (1991), adapted from Gerald Seymour's 1979 best-seller. In 1994, he appeared as Angus Mcleague in Iron Will and as Aethelwine in Royal Deceit.

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In 1995, he was seen in 2 films on Scottish legends: Braveheart (1995) and Rob Roy (1995). His role as Killearn in the latter got him a nomination for the BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor.

In 1997, he was seen in the psychological thriller Kiss the Girls, based on James Patterson's 1995 best-selling novel. His role as Hermann Göring in the 2000 TV docu-drama Nuremberg won him an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. In 2001, his portrayal of paedophile Big John Harrigan in L.I.E won him a Satellite Award.

His guest role of Harry Moon in the series Frasier in 2002 got him an Emmy nomination. Cox then appeared as Ward Abbott in the global blockbuster The Bourne Identity and as Richard Morgan in the hit English-language horror remake of the Japanese film The Ring.

His role of real-life screenwriting teacher Robert McKee in the 2002 comedy-drama film Adaptation got him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination along with the ensemble cast. He also appeared as villain William Stryker in X2: X-Men United (2003) and as King Agamemnon in Troy (2004). He reprised his role of Ward Abbott in The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

In 2004, he also received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the BAFTA Scotland Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Great Scot Awards. His other notable films include The Corruptor (1999), Super Troopers (2001), 25th Hour (2002), Red Eye (2005), Zodiac (2007), The Escapist (2008), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Coriolanus (2011), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), and Churchill (2017).

In 2016, he appeared as Sir Michael Gifford in the British-Hungarian comedy The Carer, a role that earned him a Career Achievement Award at the Stony Brook Film Festival and a BAFTA Scotland Award nomination. He also appeared as Jack Langrishe in the series Deadwood (2004-2006) and as Logan Roy in the series Succession (2018-2023), winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series and fetching a Primetime Emmy nomination for the latter.

Cox has lent his voice to several projects, too. These include narrations for Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic (2008) and voice roles in Her (2013) and the BBC Radio series McLevy (1999-2016). He has been the voice of McDonald's TV ads too.

In 2002, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He has several honorary doctorates and has penned a few books, including a memoir.

Personal Life

From 1966 to 1967, Cox was married to Lilian Monroe-Carr. He was then briefly engaged to actor and theater director Irina Brook.

In 1968, he married actor Caroline Burt. They divorced in 1986. Cox and Burt have 2 children: their daughter Margaret Cox and their son Alan Cox. Alan too is an actor.

Cox married Nicole Ansari in 2002. They have 2 sons: Orson Jonathan Cox (born in January 2002) and Torin Kamran Cox (born in October 2004). Cox lives in New York City but also has a home in Primrose Hill, London.

Initially a prominent Labour Party campaigner, Cox has made his support for Scottish independence clear. However, he did not qualify to vote in the 2014 referendum because of his status as US resident. In 2015, he joined the Scottish National Party.

In January 2020, he supported a second referendum on Scottish independence. In November 2022, he stated he was no longer a Scottish nationalist and claimed he was an Anglophile.

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