Brian Cox’s Great LIE|
by Rich Cline • page 3 of 3
Basically all of this comes down to getting something truthful onto the screen. Cox says, “It has to work viscerally more than anything else. It’s not something that’s intellectual. It’s a feeling where people sense something and go, ‘Oh my god! That’s around us. It’s what we all contain.’ We tend to look at things in a censorious way instead of understanding. And the work that it requires to go beyond that is huge work. Politics doesn’t encourage it, religions don’t encourage it, nothing encourages that!”
None of this means that Cox is having trouble finding work. In the past two years he has made some 15 films, including the comedy Super Troopers (now on release), the Matt Damon spy thriller The Bourne Identity, the British comedy Strictly Sinatra, the Sandra Bullock mystery Murder by Numbers and an upcoming remake of the Japanese horror film The Ring. He also played Daphne’s father on Frasier and even directed an episode of Oz. He’s currently filming X-Men 2, in which he plays the villainous William Stryker.
RESEARCH IS BOLLOCKS. He says he never does research for his roles. “Research is bollocks. We all know about Goering. Yes, I watched some films, but this emphasis on research drives me fucking nuts. It’s like the death of acting. Acting is about the imagination. If I did research into all of the child molesters for the role of Big John, I’d be a nut case by now.”
Instead, Cox set about creating one of the most memorable and sympathetic paedophiles you’re ever likely to see on screen. “In the film, everybody loves him and respects him,” he says. “It’s the same with one of those priests. He was someone people trusted, and he took monstrous advantage of that trust. But there was something that inspired that trust to start with. And that comes from the opposite place as his monstrosity. That’s what you have to find as an actor, but without trying to seek sympathy.”
And he’s not worried about how the audience reacts. “People who are watching you make their judgments, but they find it disconcerting. A group of ladies were genuinely disturbed by the subject, and also by my character, because they found themselves liking him. And their own censorious nature kept saying, ‘But we cannot like somebody like this; we have to condemn the film.’ And of course that’s true about life, true about all these kids who are Palestinian bombers. We say their acts of terrorism are evil, but they are done by our fellow human beings. Their makeup is our makeup; but it’s distorted, it’s bent in some way. I think that’s important for me to look at as an actor.”
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