Brian Cox CBE is a Scottish actor whose career spans almost 60 years, from his early days sweeping the stage at his local theatre in Dundee to his current Golden Globe-winning role as the media patriarch Logan Roy in the HBO series Succession. He has appeared in more than 100 films, many television series, and has won two Olivier awards for his work on stage. Brian Cox was born in 1946, the youngest of five children, and grew up in a working-class household in Dundee. His father died of cancer when he was eight and his mother, who was receiving regular psychiatric treatment, was unable to take care of him. He moved in with his sister Betty and her family. He left school aged 14 with no qualifications, and started out as a stage hand and stage cleaner at Dundee Rep, before winning a place at drama school. Years of theatre work followed, alongside actors such as Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Albert Finney. His later stage roles include acclaimed performances as King Lear at the National Theatre, and Titus Andronicus for the Royal Shakespeare Company. On film, his work includes the first screen portrayal of Hannibal Lecter - renamed Lecktor - in Manhunter, and blockbusters such as The Bourne Identity, X-Men 2, Braveheart and Troy. He received a CBE in 2002, and lives in New York City with his second wife Nicole Ansari. DISC ONE: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Johnny Cash DISC TWO: Saturday Night at the Movies by The Drifters DISC THREE: The Air That I Breathe by KD Lang DISC FOUR: Get Back by The Beatles DISC FIVE: La quête by Jacques Brel DISC SIX: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell DISC SEVEN: God Only Knows by The Beach Boys DISC EIGHT: Don’t Get Me Wrong by The Pretenders BOOK CHOICE: In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky LUXURY ITEM: A sewing kit CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: God Only Knows by The Beach Boys Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Pvc sounds music radio broadcasts, hallo unlearned event, and this is the desert island discs. Podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island for rights reasons, the music is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening My castaway this week is Brian Cox, he's one of the uk most successful and experienced actors. He recently celebrated his sixtieth here in the business by collecting a the globe for his tour de force performance as billionaire patriarch Logan Roy in hbo. Is it
You see we succession loaded, equally His performance is onstage and screen. He wanted olivier for his Titus Andronicus played king lear at the national and has over a hundred film rule, to his name, including the born identity, brave heart and manner, in which he played the first onscreen incarnation of Hannibal Lecter, perhaps fittingly his appetite for both film on theatres started at home in Dundee, where he grew up going to his local picture, four times a week and working in the local rap. when he was still a teenager, though in those days he had to clean the stage rather than perform on it. He says I have done it my own way. You can't sit back and say I have arrived. The only way you arrive is when you're dead.
Cox. Welcome to desert island discs, reason to welcome the zulu brian, as I say, you're, very, very flexible actor. You ve played villains and heroes aplenty, including churchill, and some not busby. Do you have a favorite type of character of villains, more fun to play in general? We also share. The devil. Is the best tunes and so yeah. At one point in my life- and this was about twenty five years ago, I suddenly why my playing all these nasty people and cunning worried for a bit, but I didn't for more than ten minutes. Everything we ve been playing than villainous media mogul logan Roy than in hbo hit succession, and so well. But as I say, you were awarded a golden globe in january this year. Is he based on any one in particular, not really when everybody of issues about glimmer, go rupert murdoch? They abdel they'll have theories about how it is, I think, logan, and I both have one thing in common. We find these
Human experiment rather disappointed. There's a misanthropy that each oh yeah, I've flatlands museum to be all the time, but the I am an optimist. Soil was come down on them, the good side. I did read that when you are in public alone, people, including at fellow act as now. Want you to repeat some of logan's. More choice line is absolutely wants being the most peculiar requests that event was it a me to meeting with ruin and follow, and it was very serious I was invited by the actress rosanna cat. She was actually having this launch, but lunch. So I went along then is ended. I suddenly found myself surrounded by a lot of ladys. No tomorrow I mean I do want to exaggerate, but one maybe two did ask me the inevitable. Could they video me telling them to efforts,
What did you say, I said, is really appropriate at me two meetings, but I think, that's also to do with the kind of confusion that we live in a moment. Vienna and its so what the series is about. It is about people they kind of love, this sort of naked ambition of somebody like logan, but at the same time the go. Oh Urim. Will we love to hate him, but actually there, The love was well, it's kind of complex, it's time to go to the music. What's your first disk going to be and why this is johnny cash, Simon and gulf uncles bridge over troubled water he's the greatest really- and this comes from these america for album, which is his last album and as a way of getting best of both worlds. Cassettes. And get a phone call and it was a song meant a lot to me in the sixty nine. I think as when it came out. I'm not sure bananas rice date, but I love that and then, when you hear johnny sing,
this is an old man, who's talking about her a bridge over trouble water and it's his life and its its incredibly moving It's an incredibly moving rendition of the song alone. Friends, bridge over troubled water, I will leave me bridge rob I will let me read you the troubles, sung by johnny cash Brien cooks, I will- It about research, especially when it comes to play in real life people. You very memorably played churchill in twenty seventeen how'd. You prepare for rule like that.
Well what churchill you know you have to use your investigating skills. You have to find out what the man was. A man church was interesting character because he was a construct, the hat, The cigar levy shine just his home meal was created and it was created for an effect and had an tremendous effect because he was yellow had been troubled character and made a lot of mistakes in his career. But this was his moment. This was his out of glory in it and it was the second world war and what about the idea of pain, someone who has been portrayed, on screen and is, as you say, in one icon in their own right. The idea of finding a real person will, beneath that carcase sworn to someone who wrote the script. It was a great premise. The promise was on it. There is evident that he really didn't want it to happen. And the reason was that gallipoli, which he was responsible for having such a mess. So these
Each invasions were something he was highly nerve myself and the loss of life. He was very nervous about it and also he'd been ill just in the previous winter, so he was in a very fragile state. He wasn't the winston churchill, we all know I'm an he stood the front and everything and he was born brass in and he's dealing with everybody, but he was in a minority because everybody wanted it to go and he was really on the shelf about it. So that's wonderful material to work on a man and doubt especially great man. A dove and that's what I really admire about churchill, who can be taken. right pay that sometimes, but he any moment of glory he was he everything came together, it's time to go to the music buying this number to tell us. Why have chosen this one? well, this is my childhood
mornin saturday night movies, it's a drifter sat in, but I spent all my time at them. These so I know that was, I know what the movies is not just sat in every night at the movies, and if the sun was called every night, the movies it would be more accurate and put its because it's saturday night, the movies and it's a great song and the drift is our great group Wendy's I guess this damn thing the place the sound of the drift, his brain cooks? Taking you back to every night. Do so
What are you earliest memories of acting? You grow up going to the pictures, a lot but remember acting yourself on my god gave, Was it a my mom, a series of vague, severe nervous breakdown, shad electric shock treatment, so she was institutionalized for quite a long. My childhood, but until I happen until I was, eight life was blissful. Really very happy, but the thing that my dad used to do was a new year we had a window recess and was a bunker where we kept of coal and was curtains. My sister may, whose very flamboyant sing a wonderful cinema system and she used to say, presented brine cox issued swing, open the curtains and I would do Joseph relations, and I would do johnson with the actions in everything and, of course the thing was one o clock morning, news day there would be no
can people in the room, but they were so giving an. I just thought wow. This is good. Remember the applause I remember the euro from and I was but I have three you're born in Dundee and you with a much younger brother of five siblings and your parents worked low and then in the local mills, my dad. What can the moon initially, but he was the youngest of thirteen minutes. Sister was twenty five years older than I am, so she actually had a engine, and she put them in a shop gross his shop in the fiscal child street. He then started to run the shop, and he was very good figures. He was very good, it stopped, but the problem of my dad- and it was what came to rooster to the wall. I wish he was. and my mother always used to say just remember: Brian charity begins at home. Very generous and that's always the problem. I've heard about being a dad because my dad was mythic
So when you come to the reality of having forgive your own, you cannot be a mythic follow suit, you go. What do I do and how do you remember what it was like? He was just sweet. He was kind, he was warm. He had a lovely chuckle. It was this position. Of the community, but unfortunately, at the same time he did give zero people were poor and he gave people credit and he'll die within three weeks of his diagnosis, hippocratic cancer guide within three weeks we were left deaths. We will, after my mom, had a breakdown, and it was just all went belly up with terrific you just state. When that happened to me, it must have been an x, ordinarily, difficult time you so young. I just wanted to survival mood you and that's. What's sustained me through my life them with its present.
Jesus I'm can survive. What would tat? I really you keep in touch with yourself. You keep in touch with you in person, and you keep in touch with that. We boy when I teach gazetted drama stuff and I was hit. My students always carry a pitcher of yourself as a child that's who you are and never forget that we personally, so you are that person of wonder that person of amazement that person of joy is who you are, and the rest is just propaganda that you ve had to deal with a much your picture of yourself, if you were gonna hold that up to. I have a picture of me just sitting there on a little ties to holding this ball, and I have this just gorgeous smile look at it and I go well and it's a fantastic remind- and it keeps you straight stampede next piece of music pine. What's gonna be in why it's the holly's air that we breathe, but it is for me the divinity.
The version which is katy. Lange and gaiety learning is a most extraordinary voice. I came Certainly I was doing with thing from the edinburgh festival and I was introducing seas of shows in the early nineties. In constant, my didn't nurse canadian lousy I had a like a while and then I got drag. In a couple of the other albums and and this song is just sensation the outbreak, katy, lung, so brian cup?
as you say, in your mum molly, she was left a young widow of five children, money, obviously very tight. How did the family keep going through the period that, following my sisters, were married? They had their husbands and families under european law? this to me, my sister betty. She lived in two rooms on a landing with five families and toilets on the staff in that they share to toilets, and I would stay with them on occasion. I was over there that your rooms them that, indeed, my brother money slept in the front room and my nephews, David and Kevin. They slept, and I would occasionally sheep now and then I was still I was aware, was, and people had to be. Don't go, and then people look quite realized about france's my sister betty that Was a lot going on for people, it was tough, it was really tough.
And you had to have a certain stoicism to deal with it all. I have been moved on in your life and stepping outside too that culture sometimes gives you a different perspective on it, though I wonder what you make of that of looking back at those hard times, and your attitude to money and, for example, must have been influenced by my experience level. We said issues about money because we didn't have a when my mum came out of hostile Finally, she got a small job, but she men lived after widows, pensions, pension. We come on a friday and sometimes thursday night, not always, but sometimes we wouldn't have any food anna I would go across the little fish and chips Alban. We would get better bets from the back of the pan and that would be a t v for thursday night and it s kind of zones cliche. But it's true
but it instills in you a sense of value of stuff. You know I'm a bit cautious. I can be a bit term parsimonious terms than did the bill marcia around. Sweet and states in there, and it keeps him why you socialist, why you socialist as your merrick. As you don't know, the first thing about socialism, humanoid idea, you conflate it with red under the beds, not taiwan with socialist poverty. Poverty is welcome, sure socialist, when you know poverty than you know about how we have to take care of our people, I mean what about in your own personal experiences aside from politics, I know that you can be a bit of a halter apparent. I am. I have three. What clothes I have a bigger watered, the my wife. I would shaped issue
but I love, I don't wear them all the time, but I just do you. I think it's one of those things that you are left with the unites, a kind of insecurity that make she do that visit as to come out somewhere and comes out in the most extraordinary ways. There's lots of health randy. Days for a brief children. Was anyone able to help you really fumbling? I just do it. didn't go. My father should rule which a kind of sort of regret- and they put me in front of the television I remember when my dad died. Remember coming home agenda and I realize was wrong and I walked in the door was open and legacy sway funny when we have great thanks like tragedies or even bus away. This always lots of food
so, the table was covered in food and I could just see my mum over the top of the table. Images object, misery. What happened it's time for a fourth desk by what a beginning. and why well my generation, I came to london in the sixties and of course it was a time of incredible social mobility, Now is the time of the beatles I once Wendell partly in Dundee, and they had been playing. So I came to this party, which was, in fact your partner was all these journalists from dc toxins, and they were all very excited. I sit here these two guys line. fast asleep and one was george, harnessing yellow his ring a star oliver, because you were, there were clearly exhausted. The brook eyes met, but how that's all I saw them, lose them sleep next to that, and that was the great thing about.
sixties with social mobility? I could get a grunt This is what really annoyed me now. I was a working class kid I could get a grand. I could go to london could study mine croft my desire. I go expenses paid as well, but at the same time was this amazing music. these guys from liverpool and all rock laws and what I've. Chosen is because it was hard to do go ahead. You do go for all the usual stuff and I thought no. I want that rock n roll sign. So that's why I chose,
John John did not give the beatles and get back so buying cooks, your first encounter with the theatre. Then I think that was a Dundee rat pact. Did you end up working now? I have these two great teaches you gurgled george I think I can build your and my education was a complete disaster. I mean really was in. I was designed for to be a technical kedo, I couldn't make any those wooden. Wouldn't they looked like nothing on earth savages completely hopeless.
Sir, wasn't a school. I really had much hope form, but I had these two guys Who could clearly saw something in me? I'm a very supportive of me, and one was not teach and the other was an english teacher, but build europe. Introduce me to the rap club, and it was there on four o clock on Wednesday's to a bunch of kids would go to the rap and it was my first experience of life. It was while I was fourteen and I just seen our planet the same times I knew I wanted to do was very excited and what happened was that term, though said? Look, I've got this extant, a mine he's going to go to drama school ass. It was I who school from acting and he's gonna glass case you, but his job as coming up at the rat. Maybe you should apply for it. So I got into view and I went to the office
I move they were asking me about classical music was, I knew nothing of him, but we had a wonderful music teacher, co, brad cattle and he'd been playing the trumpet march from Aida. Shall I kind of? Does it well, you know I really do like vanity. I think ada, as one of my favorites particularly the trumpet much you may carry value that I was glad to get so I got a job and I start and I used to take the money to the bank in the morning I would run errands have, as a sort of in fact, to run run ends for the secretary and in the evening I had the task of mopping the stage, so that was had to do. I wasn't alone backstage unless There was some since, lifting and then I would go back and do some shifting. But then, when I got back stage eventually graduated to become probably the
stage managed other ever been the worse, the wash alai. Why so? I was constantly doing things like come. I would be you'll be war, I beyond the book. a beam, the prompt corner and renew duplicate that was rollo and the actors are so doing stuff and sunday as a pause, and I don't know- and I could see them and I'm on page twenty. They probably on page fourteen of venom Looking at the top of my shoulder knighton, the actresses we telephone for me. She said no on stage you supposed to be the first to ring. The bell was hopeless, I'm surprised, didn't fire me, but they didn't. Does take a break for some music. What are we gonna here and why? This is a song which actually relatively new to me? I didn't know the song until quite recently I have an eye, was complete blown away, I've always liked Jacques brow, but apparently he did. The man
Remember he actually didn't fit in paris, and this is the impossible dream we'll see. Did you know else all like cats by jack brown, brian coaxial, early career, spent in rapidly thea seven. I read that by the age of twenty two you'd played bolingbroke, orlando pig and and a argo nazi,
staggering achievement for one such a young age limit was the time we had these rapid radiators, which were phenomenal, and I was a birmingham rap started- though I see him after left dramas go in edinburgh and then after a year I went to Birmingham. Do it with this extraordinary, actually copy deduce lobby? What do you want to play? We asked rwanda plan, I told him and I ended up playing virtually eighty percent of what went on that was a time of when we did fortnightly reps three wheatley rep, we were in repertoire. So we were the first repertoire system. We did to shakespeare to go Then we would do separate things that pig and in the winter, it was an amazing time and I went to the western that was my first journey to the western. When I was twenty one I mean those terrible none of the rose there has to be said, but it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. Young I just don't get I experienced such a shame. Since
of experience available in an opportunity, but it's also, you must have had a tremendous appetite for the work it has suffered was surfeit of stuff that I just went for, and I was ambitious climate bishop when I was young but I was ambitious for the work it was about the work I just wanted to get better and improve and powerful added. Some of those performance has gone down and fanatical history aiming Titus Andronicus with the IRA sea, especially how did it feels it to get that particular triumph under your balance? It was odd because I started life. When I was a kid was movies, I really want to be a movie Acta, the generation of Alvin peter him Tom. They did movies, but it became kind of the different class people doing movies in the seventies and eighties. It wasn't happening from these, but I did television untenable. of course, in this country was fantastic and I agree
time. But I did to play that brought me to america and that there were very successful. and out of that I got this film man hunter. I saw that was the beginning of may not done a couple films on right at the start of a trot skin the casino agenda, but this was, the start of something. So I was focusing on that. But then my marriage fell upon Shall I realized, I have to go home to go back to london and be present for my kids so I join the irish sea and it was the best move by the main stand. This amazing, what are we going to next? I just love the female voice, Johnny Mitchell, she's, just a but the thing this undeniable as hot version, the late version of both sides now one here, a woman whose lived when you hear that two versions in here this,
was, I feel, is gonna be high for voice. You realize it its speculative. Where is this version is about someone who's slightly more cynical, then she sings it wonderfully men still. Donnie Mitchell and both sides know you move to america. In the nineties a new described once breaking into hollywood is being like wrestling with blancmange by
because he is in you realise those very sweet- very nice in fickleness anything given, you can't really take any of it seriously. I knew shewn remembering I went to hollywood in the seventies, the life then the vastness of the life, the glibness, The light issue. I really couldn't take a really couldn't handlin and none I didn't succumb. I just came back. Did my work as my old friend fort mackay sissy. Following a messenger calling enjoy our wages. in new york, but I know that you ve said about your home country, scotland, that sir it draws you back. Please you get older domitian you I do I'm there lies. My sister has not gone into a care home near other filled issue. Hopefully
he's. Gonna be fine, gotten. Ninety, as is coming up any day. Unfortunately, I won't be able to get back for it because of the restrictions but tat its gods, countries beautiful, if no one, like it- no alike in isis, incredible it's time for some music brain. What are we gonna hear thanks to? This is a surprising song from me because it's terrible romantic song. and it really is about my wife, Nicole man. We met we met in hamburg when I was playing kingly. Looking like the old man, the sea and remember may I see which is met colonel one night. Nothing not only just taught, and then we parted than anonymous We were turning owes in milan and she was humming a relationship with a gun in the company, and she came to milan and I remember embarrassingly she walked into the restaurant. I stood up and I thought giving away and sat down again.
Eight years later I was doing art on broadway and I came into the theatre I was used to arrive later if it- and this is before mobile phones- and I the guys are always brion said this. Some broad left a note cubbyhole last night, oh- and I looked at this note and I swear to god, I thought of I open the snow changed my life and I had this flash so picked up the note- and it said I'm in town, I'm currently watching central bernhard next door, but I see here. I will be nice of you. me, I'm gonna, hear from couple more days, so I ran up the sea. I rang the number and at that point somebody came in a company magic. Did you gotta know showed tonight, so you got a ticket for many of you want to use it. So I said you know I don't know what you're doing and why you are, but I have a ticket for tonight. If you wanna come or I should wear
you she said well, I'm on fifty nineth and seventh avenue. I said well my fears on forty five point, seven harmony and ask if you can get here in the next ten minutes, which I thought was gonna be impossible and she did it. She came, and that was that, and I took a tangle dancing that night, and that was it. This is for, Oh god only knows the beach Boys- and god only knows so. Bright
cooks. You recently directed your wife, nickel answer. in sin- is in london. What's it like working together, fantastic she's, a wonderful actress and I know implies, but she really is a grand actress unfortunate and I do have to cast you away, like I told you all day about, but you ve got. go to your island. How will you manage to have any practical skills that might come in useful? I can be quite practical if I am forced to be I'm not by nature, but if enforced, I can't be ass for me. I can't be resourceful, you know, so I'm I'm not too backing, especially now with the present crisis is probably the safest place to be How are you with solitude how you're on your own automobile will absolutely No, I mean I love my wife. I love my family, but I have a little man cave here in london, which my wife has been allowed to live in for the last two do the play, but it is my
and gave a name. I do value my solitude while one more track then before we send you up to the desert island was gonna, be in. Why she's, a friend, and she is the original rock chick she as one of the truly great voices and she's witty and he's around woman. I love after bets on that score. Behind the pretenders and don't get me wrong. the pretended and don't get me wrong. So Brian coax it's time to cast your way,
to your desert island. I will of course give you the books to keep me company day. You will have the bible and the complete works. If shakespeare, I got protect me what the bible, while I'll give you both. You can also take another book of your choice. What would you like? I would like a book it's by peter spend scheme is called in search of the miraculous it's about man's quest for consciousness, being conscious? It's yours, you can also have a luxury item. What would you like them? I think pending on the state of my clothes. I would like a very, very good sewing kit. Ah, ok waking a full boxing one with ill. It lay is not allowed and odin learned telescope bankers alike, showing yeah fantastically go you good at it, I'm real bad learn to do and I was very young. So it's something I do I mean I'm just magic
I might have some clothes. I need to repair lately, while it's all yours and finally, a few hot to save just one disk of the eight that we ve heard today from the waves which would it be so hard it's atossa I say you can't decide- is either god only knows by the beach boys or is both sides now by John Mitchell. So I can't decide, but I think because of my wife I think we got on the news tonight- choice- praying cooks. Thank you very much, flooding, as he does islander. Thank you. So much has been so enjoyable. I can't tell you as we didn't brian on his island, there's just time for me to let you know that our archive is full of castaways from stage and screen, including deem duty dense. Sir John mill
unseen Mcmullen. It can find all of those additions on. Bbc sands and a whole host of programmes from musicians to comedians scientists. To novelists to keep you going in these most difficult times next week as we're on our spring break, you'll be able to hear selected programmes for morocco. until we return hi, I'm catherine belarus and I'm sorry, keyword, we're comedian separately and a couple together with a host of you'll do the progress that gives you a little insight into perfectly imperfect love. You forget nights in with this one and hashtag cup of goals. We want another. Why than has sticking with people we love and asking. If you are the questions that are meant to help us develop intimacy, so why not give it to listen and subscribe to yield due on BBC sounds
Transcript generated on 2022-06-08.