Thursday, September 6, 2012

Colorful Brian Cox

This is curious. I was looking through the filmography of Brian Cox (b. 1946) and he seems to be drawn to movies (and TV shows) with colorful names. Here are a few -

"Redcap" (1966)
"Shades of Greene" (episode called "The Blue Film" 1975)
In "King Lear" (1983) he played Burgundy
"Red Fox" (1991)
"Red Dwarf" (1997)
"Blue/Orange" (2005)
Red Eye (2005)
Red (2008) in a starring role.
"The Color of Magic" (2008)
The voice of the Green Dragon in "Scooby Doo and the Samurai Sword" (2009)
Wide Blue Yonder (2010)
Red (2010) This one with Bruce Willis.

I may have missed a few TV shows, but that will give you the idea. And this is not the Dr. Brian Cox (b. 1968) who is a physicist and astronomer with his own TV show, "Wonders of the Universe."

I first saw Brian in Iron Will (1994) a Disney movie about a dog sled race in the early days of World War I, but his acting career on television goes back to 1965. Iron Will starred Mackenzie Astin (b. 1973) son of Patty Duke and John Astin.

Most of Brian's early work, other than theater, was on television. His first movie was Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). Then, in 1986, he was the first actor to play Hannibal Lecktor, in a movie called Manhunter. In 1990 he co-starred with Frances McDormand (b. 1957) in Hidden Agenda.

I think the roles that solidify him as a great Bit Actor, or maybe a little higher on the acting chain, were his parts in Iron Will, Rob Roy (1995), Braveheart (1995), Chain Reaction (1996) and Kiss the Girls (1997). He didn't star in these movies, but his roles were important to the action. You may be tempted to call him a great supporting actor.

There are some not-so-great movies in this time frame as well. Not everything can be a big hit. The Glimmer Man (1996) starring Steven (need I say more?) Seagal (b. 1952), Desperate Measures (1998) with Michael Keaton (b. 1951) trying to be a bad guy, Merchants of Venus (1998) that's Venus not Venice, and The Corruptor (1999) starring Yun-Fat Chow (b. 1955). I'll pass on those.

In 1999 he has a much better role in a much better film, For Love of the Game starring Kevin Costner. I always said the Costner was at his best in sports films, even though this is really a romance film for guys. He also played an important part in the first two Bourne films, The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004), as the bad guy Ward Abbott.

Keeping to the better movies, look for Cox in Troy (2004) starring Brad Pitt (b. 1963) and Eric Bana (b. 1968), and in the Woody Allen film, Match Point (2005) starring Scarlett Johansson (b. 1984).

If you look through Brian's list of titles you will find many films that come from his Scottish heritage. Look for The Flying Scotsman (2006) and The Water Horse (2007) plus others. There is quite a bit of work done in the UK, in film and on television.

Cox made two films called Red. One in 2008 which had no big names but did star Brian Cox, and the one I just watched on FiOS from 2010 starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich, not to mention Ernest Borgnine in a fine Bit Actor role. It was a fun film, filled with violence, comedy, and Mirren as a hit man. Helen Mirren is every bit as talented at Meryl Streep in my book.

Just last year Brian was in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I'll pass on that one, too. You could write an entire blog about all the Ape films!

Brian Cox continues to work on both side of the Atlantic. He has a number of films currently in production. His roles tend to be very serious, government types, with an occasional comedy thrown in. That makes him one colorful Bit Actor.