"Succession"’s Brian Cox felt “silly” for turning down "Game of Thrones" role

The actor recalls watching some of his friends like Ian McShane and Charles Dance appear on the Emmy-winning show

By Dan Selcke

Published November 15, 2021 9:59PM (EST)

Brian Cox as Logan Roy in "Succession." (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)
Brian Cox as Logan Roy in "Succession." (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

This story originally appeared on Winter is Coming.

From "Manhunter" to "Braveheart" all the way through to his current star turn in HBO's "Succession," Brian Cox has had an incredible career. He specializes in playing grizzled, no-nonsense types with a bit of an edge to them, which is why he's so successful as Logan Roy on "Succession." It also would have made the Scottish actor a great fit for "Game of Thrones" in its heyday, which actually was a possibility . . . if he didn't say no.

"Stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn't pay enough money," Cox told Vodzilla back in 2016, shortly after the series wrapped on its sixth season. "Now they have more money. And I was silly. I was silly, it was silly, because I'm a complete addict now. But I don't know what I could play."

I just watched my friend Ian McShane and I thought, 'Ooh, Ian's in it', so I settled down to watch him. And I thought, 'Ian did that?' and immediately I thought, 'God, they must have paid him well', because I know Ian! And there was Max von Sydow doing that character that he did, so in a way, it's attracting certain people who do film, and, of course, I've got friends like Clive Russell and Liam Cunningham and Charlie Dance is an old pal, being in it, and they had a great time in it.

Ian McShane played Brother Ray, Max von Sydow played the Three-Eyed Raven, Clive Russell played Brynden "the Blackfish" Tully, Liam Cunningham played Davos Seaworth, and Charles Dance played the indomitable Tywin Lannister, who has a bit of a Logan Roy vibe about him. Cox would have been in excellent company, although I don't know what part he would have been offered in the early seasons. He seems too sturdy to play Grand Maester Pycelle. Maybe Greatjon Umber? Davos? Even Tywin? Any ideas?

Who would Brian Cox have played on "Game of Thrones"?

In any case, Cox lived to regret his choice, especially after watching spectacular episodes like "Battle of the Bastards":

Now I know what they spend on it, in terms of the visual aspect of it… [Battle of the Bastards] was phenomenal… If you think of "The Hobbit" or you think of "The Lord of the Rings," the battle sequence in "Game of Thrones" was a lot more modest, but much more brilliant than any of the battle sequences in any of those movies and all those kind of CGI characters doing their bit, whereas this was real people, I mean, the CGI was just brilliantly done and clearly there was a bit of green screen, but it's astonishing. For television, it is truly astonishing.

In 2016, Cox seemed willing to come on the show; "if they've got more decent money, I'll be there!" (I agree with WhatCulture that he would have been perfect for Marwyn the Mage, a character from the books who didn't appear in the series.) There's always the prequel.


Dan Selcke

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