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Brian Cox (1946)

Brian Denis Cox

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Brian Denis Cox, CBE is a Scottish actor. He is known for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he gained recognition for his portrayal of King Lear. He has also appeared in many Hollywood productions playing parts such as Dr. Guggenheim in Rushmore and William Stryker in X2: X-Men United. He was the first actor to portray Hannibal Lecter on film in the 1986 production Manhunter.


 early life
Cox was born to a working class Roman Catholic family in Dundee, Scotland, the youngest of five children. His great-grandfather was an Irish immigrant to Scotland. His mother, Mary Ann Guillerline (née McCann), was a spinner who worked in the jute mills and suffered several nervous breakdowns during Cox's childhood. His father, Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, was a butcher and later a shopkeeper, and died when Cox was eight years old. Cox was subsequently brought up by his elder sisters. He joined the Dundee Repertory Theatre at the age of fourteen.

Cox was trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, leaving in 1965 when he joined the Lyceum company in Edinburgh, followed in 1966 by two years with the Birmingham Rep, where his parts included the title role in Peer Gynt and Orlando in As You Like It, in which he made his London debut in June 1967 at the Vaudeville Theatre.

He made his first television appearance as an extra in several episodes of The Prisoner in 1967 before taking a lead role in The Year of the Sex Olympics the next year. In 1978, he played King Henry II of England in the acclaimed BBC2 drama serial The Devil's Crown, following which he starred in many other television dramas. His first film appearance was as Leon Trotsky in Nicholas and Alexandra in 1971.

Cox is an accomplished Shakespearean actor, spending seasons with both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre in the 1980s and 1990s. His work with the RSC included a critically acclaimed performance as the title character in Titus Andronicus, as well as playing Petruchio in The Taming of The Shrew. Cox portrayed Burgundy opposite Laurence Olivier in the title role of King Lear . He later went on to play King Lear at the National Theatre.

In 1986, during the production of Manhunter, while Cox was playing Hannibal Lecktor, Anthony Hopkins was playing King Lear on stage at the National Theatre. Five years later, during the production of The Silence of the Lambs in which Hopkins took over as the renamed Lecter, Cox was playing King Lear at the National Theatre. At the time, the two actors shared the same agent.

In 1991 he played the part of Owen Benjamin, the closeted father of a gay man, in the BBC "Screen 2" production of David Leavitt's novel, The Lost Language of Cranes, which is set in the 1980s.

His most famous appearances include Rob Roy, Braveheart , The Ring, X2, Troy and The Bourne Supremacy. He usually plays villains, such as William Stryker in X2, Agamemnon in Troy, Pariah Dark in the Danny Phantom television series episode Reign Storm, and a devious CIA official in the Bourne films and in Chain Reaction. He has on occasion played more sympathetic characters, such as Edward Norton's father in 25th Hour, a fatherly police superior in Super Troopers, and Rachel McAdams' father in Red Eye. He has also appeared in the sitcom Frasier as Daphne Moon's father. He was also the protagonist in the film The Escapist.

Cox garnered critical acclaim for his performance in 2001's L.I.E., in which he played a pedophile who grows to genuinely care for a boy he had initially intended to molest. He won an Emmy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award that year for his portrayal of Hermann Göring in the television mini-series Nuremberg. He also appeared in a supporting role as Jack Langrishe in the HBO series Deadwood.

In 2002, he appeared in Spike Jonze's Charlie Kaufman-scripted Adaptation as the real-life screenwriting teacher, Robert McKee, giving advice to Nicolas Cage in both his roles, as Charlie Kaufman and Charlie's fictional twin-brother Donald. In 2004, Cox played an alternate, villainous version of King Agamemnon in Troy. He was to play the lion Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but was replaced by Liam Neeson. He appeared on a 2006 episode of the British motoring programme Top Gear (as a "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car").

Cox has also been involved in the video game industry. Among his most prominent roles were Killzone , Killzone 2 , and Killzone 3 , in which he played the ruthless emperor Scolar Visari. Cox also was the voice of Carl Starkweather, the main antagonist in the Sony PlayStation 2 Classic Manhunt . Cox's role as a psychopathic snuff film director who urged the protagonist James Earl Cash to carry out gruesome killings, earned Cox somewhat of a cult following by fans of the critically acclaimed Manhunt video game.

His radio work includes the BBC series McLevy (1999–2010), based on the real life detective James McLevy. and his portrayal of the Dundonian comic character Bob Servant. Cox says he played Servant, the creation of Dundonian author Neil Forsyth, based on memories of his late brother Charlie.

Cox narrated an abridged audio book version of Sir Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe, and an unabridged audio book of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. He has also collaborated with HarperCollins on an audiobook of Tolkien's epic poem The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, which is scheduled for release in August 2009.

In 2008 Cox starred in Red, based on Jack Ketchum's novel. The film was directed by Lucky McKee and Trygve Allister Diesen and also starred Tom Sizemore, Amanda Plummer, and Kim Dickens. Cox also played an institutionalized convict in Rupert Wyatt's film, The Escapist, appearing alongside Joseph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper and Damian Lewis.

In December 2009, Cox appeared in The Day of the Triffids, written by Patrick Harbinson, whose credits include ER and Law & Order. The drama is based on John Wyndham's best-selling post-apocalyptic novel, The Day of the Triffids. The same year, Cox provided the voice for the Ood Elder in part one of the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The End of Time. Cox starred in the Ridley Scott produced Tell-Tale, a film based on the short story "The Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe.

In February 2010, Cox was elected as Rector of the University of Dundee, polling almost two-thirds of the vote. Cox was set to portray Mr. Reisert in Scream 4, but it was later announced he will not join the cast.

Cox plays Laura Linney's father in the Showtime series The Big C. In July 2010, he joined the cast of the 2011 science-fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

In 2011, Cox appeared on Broadway opposite Jason Patric, Chris Noth, Kiefer Sutherland and Jim Gaffigan in a revival of Jason Miller's That Championship Season, which opened in March.

Cox portrays the voice "God" in "The Truth & Life Dramatized audio New Testament Bible," a 22-hour, celebrity-voiced, fully dramatized audio New Testament which uses the RSV-CE translation.

 personal life
He is divorced from his first wife Caroline Burt. The couple had two stillborn twins, before having two children: son Alan Cox is also an actor, best known for his roles in Young Sherlock Holmes, and playing the young John Mortimer in the TV film of his play A Voyage Round My Father opposite Laurence Olivier. Brian married his second wife, actress Nicole Ansari, in 2002. The couple have two boys, and live in New York City.

Cox is a diabetic and has worked to promote a diabetes research facility in his home town of Dundee. The producers of Super Troopers discovered his affliction when a scene called for Cox to eat a white chocolate prop that resembled a bar of soap. Cox bit into it thinking they knew this, and promptly spat it out upon tasting it. Production was halted until a sugar-free substitute could be found.

Cox is a patron for Scottish Youth Theatre, Scotland's National Theatre 'for and by' young people. Scottish Youth Theatre's building in Glasgow, The Old Sheriff Court, named their theatre the Brian Cox Studio Theatre in his honour. He is also a patron of "THE SPACE", a training facility for actors and dancers in his native Dundee, and an "ambassador" for the Screen Academy Scotland.

In 2007 Cox campaigned for Labour in the run-up to that year's Scottish Parliamentary elections and he is a lifelong supporter of the party. Cox endorsed the Scottish National Party in the 2011 election, however, due to their higher education policy.

On 11 February 2010, Cox was elected as the twelfth Rector of the University of Dundee by students of the institution. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Napier University in Edinburgh, award in July 2008.

In April 2010, Cox, along with Ian McKellen and Eleanor Bron, appeared in a series of TV advertisements to support Age UK, the charity recently formed from the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged. All three actors gave their time free of charge.

On 31 December 2002, Cox was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours List.

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