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Brian Cox turned down a role in Game of Thrones, and he’s kicking himself to this day

Although it’s hard to believe now, there was a time when Game of Thrones wasn’t a monster hit. The show was an unknown quantity back when it premiered in 2011, and not every actor was eager to jump on board. Jonathan Pryce, for example, was offered a role on the show in its early days, but turned it down because “I don’t like swords and fantasy things.” Five seasons later, the show was a phenomenon, and the actor jumped at the chance to play the High Sparrow. The rest is history.

Per a recent interview with Vodzilla, storied actor Brian Cox wishes he could follow suit. Cox has been acting in film and on TV since the ’70s—some of his most prominent credits include Colonel William Stryker in X2: X-Men United, Agamemnon in Troy, and the original Hannibal Lecter in Michael Mann’s Manhunter. And he could have been on Game of Thrones.

Stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn’t pay enough money. 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.


Hindsight is 20/20, etc, etc. Cox is regretting his choice to pass on the show acutely nowadays. He’s become a big fan, and has seen several of his colleagues pass through the program.

I just watched my friend Ian McShane (Septon Ray) 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 (the Three-Eyed Raven) 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 (Brynden “the Blackfish” Tully) and Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) and Charlie Dance (Tywin Lannister) is an old pal, being in it, and they had a great time in it.

And considering how much the main cast members are reportedly getting paid for Season 7, money really isn’t an issue anymore.

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Cox doesn’t mention what role he was offered. Vodzilla suspects it was Robert Baratheon. That’s possible, but Cox was a little old for that part at the time. With his steely demeanor, he would have made a good Tywin.

Vodzilla caught up with Cox shortly after “Battle of the Bastards” aired, and the actor was full of praise for what the showrunners pulled off there.

Now I know what they spend on it, in terms of the visual aspect of it… Last week’s episode 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.

So there you have it: Brian Cox thinks that the battle sequence in “Battle of the Bastards” was “much more brilliant” than anything in The Lord of the Rings. It’s different, certainly.

Anyway, Cox is still hoping to get cast on Game of Thrones. “I’m still waiting for the call for Game of Thrones and if they’ve got more decent money, I’ll be there!” he said. Time is running out, but the show could only benefit from an actor his ability.

43 Comments

    • Yes, either of those would have been perfect. That seems more likely than Tywin. I think they always had Charles Dance in mind (or at least, in the back of their minds) for that role.

  • If you snooze you loose they say lol
    It’s hard to imagine anyone else besides Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon but he would’ve been a great one too probably. Maybe he’ll get another chance but I don’t like the whole ” if the money is decent” statement. If you’re such an “addict” of it now money shouldn’t be such an issue but that’s just me, not an actor by any means lol. I’d go be an extra on that show for free!

    • True words,after the money comment,seems he would have made an excellent littlefinger with that self serving attitude…carpe diem

    • Agreed! That was strange coming from an “addict”. I am sure he is not starving as it is, and doesn’t need the pay. With that, I hope he doesn’t get a part in the last two seasons!

  • In terms of characters Brian could play that they haven’t cast yet, I really could see him as Jon Connington. But its really improbable that either Connington or Cox will appear on the show. Such a shame.

    • Yes, I was thinking of Archmaester Marwyn too since Sam Tarly was already in Citadel.

      I love Brian Cox, one of the great actors out there. He was also in the Jason Bourne films, The Campaign, Braveheart etc.

      Hope Game of Thrones will invite him in Seasons 7 or 8.

      • From the description of Marwyn in the book, I think he’d be perfect:

        Marwyn wore a chain of many metals around his bull’s neck. Save for that, he looked more like a dockside thug than a maester. His head was too big for his body, and the way it thrust forward from his shoulders, together with that slab of jaw, made him look as if he were about to tear off someone’s head. Though short and squat, he was heavy in the chest and shoulders, with a round, rock-hard ale belly straining at the laces of the leather jerkin he wore in place of robes. Bristly white hair sprouted from his ears and nostrils. His brow beetled, his nose had been broken more than once, and sourleaf had stained his teeth a mottled red. He had the biggest hands that Sam had ever seen.

  • I don’t think money should be a motivator for him… I mean, I’m sure they offered him more than normal people make in a year.

  • With the leads getting upwards of $500,000 an episode for season 7, I can see why he wants back in (I can also see why they killed off a boatload of them). But I can’t see anyone but Mark Addy as RB. He was perfect. I’m not sure why he hasn’t gotten more prominent roles.

    • Oh well, hello there, Mrs. Gendry. Am sure you have been waiting far too long for Gendry’s return. Haha!

      • Too long, now I’m strongly considering stalking Joe Dempsie to get a glimpse of that boy.

  • Poor guy. Didn’t realize he was hurting for cash. I guess it makes sense considering how low budget those X Men movies were.

    I certainly agree with him that the BotB was far more entertaining than any of Peter Jackson’s overwrought battle scenes.

  • Love Brian Cox. He’s a bit gruff, but affable and just comes right out with it. He’d have made a great Northerner, and I’m sure it’s not too late to cast him in something.

  • Sorry for your loss, Mister Cox. Money is important but so does the exposure. Hope you’ll get the role in the next seasons.

  • I see him as an ideal Janos Slynt. Thanking my lucky stars he wasn’t cast as Robert Baratheon, his demeanor is wrong and he’s not nearly tall enough.

  • I know the role wasn’t there early on but he could’ve been really good in the role of Kevan Lannister.

  • We always wonder what could of been. There are still opening for roles do he can still
    apply.

  • Brian Cox doesn’t only care about money. He flies at his own expense to Scotland every year to be the lead in McLevy on BBC radio.

    It’s available at sites that sell audio files. Get hold of it. It is excellent.

  • THE KING IN THE NORTH & THE RIGHTFUL HEIR TO THE 7 KINGDOMS…….JON TARGARYEN!!!!!!

  • Love that everyone is suggesting him for The Mage. I’m iffy if they are going to include him or make him an amalgam of the Mage and someone created for the show like Ye Goode Olde Elder Brother Septon Me-Ray-bald. . He would have made a good Septon Merribald too I think. He would have been a good person to deliver the Broken Man speech. But McShane played it well too. Would love to see Brendan Gleeson as Jon Connington but that will never happen cause Aegon is A-gone.

  • Think they had a great escape…and to date cast brilliantly throughout the show…who the hell is Brian Cox ha! Just hope he doesn’t get his wish, the MONEY could be better spent on more episodes….!!!!

    • Oh, he’s nobody. He’s only played Hannibal Lecter, been in Braveheart, X-Men 2, the Bourne movies, Troy, Deadwood, Zodiac, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and many others.