Brian Cox’s Great LIE|
by Rich Cline • page 2 of 3
Cox knows a thing or two about playing villains. Besides Lecter, he played Herman Goering in an American TV series and was so evil in Rob Roy that Jessica Lange slit his throat. His performance in L.I.E. is astonishingly brave. He never takes the cheap or easy route through a scene and shockingly refuses to even remotely vilify the character. This performance won him the Best Actor award this year from the American Film Institute, the Boston Film Critics and the Golden Satellites. He was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (although not, as expected, for the Oscar).
“When I first read the script I thought, ‘Boy, this is a difficult one!’ It’s a subject people usually don’t tackle,” he says. “Cinema shies away from the subject of paedophilia and I felt this was an important film, a responsible film. It seemed to me be truthful and in the end I was very moved by it. This kid growing up and being parentless and finding a father figure in the most unlikely of characters. That character having a dark side to him, a shadowy side, and a good side as well, which makes great drama and a great role to tackle.”
WORTH THE RISK. But does he worry about backlash from playing such a morally dodgy character? “There are really no negative results from taking on a role like this. There’s always a risk factor with the nature of the subject matter. In the end, my business is about risk. Actors in general have become spoiled in the roles they choose. The fact is that Hollywood, from as early as the 1960s, has ghettoized cinema into the marketing industry. In doing this, audiences have lost touch with films which were to be informative, educational and even spiritual. An actor then falls into this personality thing where they don’t even act anymore. The actor is successful when the audience reacts saying, ‘I hate this’ and then, ‘I like this’, shifting back and forth in those emotional responses.”
All of this is important, he thinks, because people in society judge each other too much. “We’re always saying this person is evil, that person is not. We’ve got a great example of it today with those priests accused of sexual abuse. You see that 70-year-old man being arrested and, first and foremost, he’s a human being, whatever he’s done. And one isn’t condoning or forgiving. I think most actions of a dark nature usually come from a form of weakness. What interests me as an actor is that when you’re playing a role, those private weaknesses are a given. But what’s not a given is the other side of it, what the person does in terms of his or her own well-being, in terms of their day-to-day dealing with society.”
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