Ian and I are a bit obsessed with Brian Cox, and I was very happy to notice that the AV Club had done a Random Roles bit with him (an excellent interview schema, which takes the annoying bolded reporter-voice almost entirely out of it and just leaves the meat of the subject rambling about cool stuff). I was not disappointed. You might say I was reappointed. I mean, read this stunningly clear and concise evaluation of American film versus British theatre, prompted by a little question about his career arc post-Rob Roy:
“If you grow up in these islands—especially where I grew up in these islands—the theatre is very powerful, very potent. It’s a part of our heritage. Our culture is really a theatrical culture, not a cinematic culture. Feudal societies don’t create great cinema; we have great theatre. The egalitarian societies create great cinema. The Americans, the French. Because equality is sort of what the cinema deals with. It deals with stories which don’t fall into ‘Everybody in their place and who’s who,’ and all that. But the theatre’s full of that. Especially in Shakespeare. So in a way, it behooves you as a British actor to try and master the classics and become a classical player. I got caught up in it. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I was too late.
“You see, the free cinema, the cinema of Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates, Tom Courtenay… That all ended by the time I came along. So I went to work in the Royal Court, because they weren’t going to be making any more of those movies.”