Brian Cox On Why He Wasn't In Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter

The Succession star says Game of Thrones wasn't a big payday, Johnny Depp is "overrated," and Brendan Gleeson was better for Harry Potter.


Succession star and McDonald's spokesperson Brian Cox has a new memoir coming out, and it's filled with juicy details on some of the roles the Scottish actor didn't land over his lengthy career, including parts in Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter. An excerpt from the memoir was published by GQ.

Starting with Game of Thrones, Cox said he was supposed to play King Robert Baratheon, a part that ultimately went to Mark Addy. Cox said he passed on Game of Thrones because the money wasn't very good and the part was only for one season--fans will recall that Baratheon is killed in Season 1.

"Game of Thrones went on to be a huge success and everybody involved earned an absolute fortune, of course. But when it was originally offered the money was not all that great, shall we say say," Cox said. "Plus I was going to be killed off fairly early on, so I wouldn't have had any of the benefits of the long-term effects of a successful series where your wages go up with each passing season."

For Pirates of the Caribbean, Cox was going to play the Governor role that went to Jonathan Pryce (who himself starred on Game of Thrones for one season). Cox said Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, with whom he worked on The Ring, is a "good chap," but he passed on the role because it would have been a "thankless" job that went on for years with numerous sequels.

Cox admitted he missed out on a "money-spinner" of a payday, but committing to the franchise might have meant he would miss out on other jobs. Also, Cox wasn't exactly enthusiastic about working with Johnny Depp.

"Another thing with Pirates of the Caribbean is that it's very much the 'Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow' show, and Depp, personable though I'm sure he is, is so overblown, so overrated. I mean, Edward Scissorhands. Let's face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don't have to do anything. And he didn't," Cox said. "And subsequently, he's done even less. But people love him. Or they did love him. They don't love him so much these days, of course."

For Harry Potter, Cox said he was in the running for Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody. Brendan Gleeson got the role in the end, and Cox said Gleeson was "more in fashion" than he was at that stage of his career. "That's very much the way of the world in my business, so he got it. Also, he's much better than I would have been," Cox said.

Cox has more than 230 acting credits on his resume, so while he might have missed out on parts in Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Pirates, he's had a long and successful career all the same. His latest major project is the HBO drama Succession, in which he plays Logan Roy.

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