Brian Cox says Succession creator Jesse Armstrong was a “gentleman” to salute him during his acceptance speech at Sunday night’s Emmy Awards.
The celebrated HBO drama won the top drama prize, and Armstrong praised the show’s cast, creatives and crew then lauded Cox, “who the show was revolved around whether he was in it or not.”
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Later at the HBO | Max Emmy afterparty at San Vicente Bungalows, Cox tells me he was “touched” by Armstrong singling him out. “Jesse’s a gentleman in an industry where there aren’t many of those,” he says.
Cox adds that the entire team deserved the praise. ”All of them. The drama series win belongs to each and every one of them.”
The acclaimed actor says he knew Succession would become a “cultural landmark” from the time he read Armstrong’s first script. “I was in no doubt that it would become a benchmark. The writing, the characters…”
Cox has worked tirelessly since his run as Logan Roy ended.
Late last year he portrayed composer Johann Sebastian Bach in Oliver Cotton’s play The Score at the Theatre Royal Bath, directed by Trevor Nunn.
Cox reveals that the production will transfer into the West End this year.
First, however, “as soon as I learn my lines,” he’ll lead a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night into Wyndham’s Theatre from March 19 with Patricia Clarkson, Anthony Boyle and Daryl McCormack.
Then he’ll direct Alan Cumming, Jodie Turner-Smith and Bill Paterson in the Scottish film Glenrothan. “I’m looking at others to cast,” he says. “There’ll be younger versions of Alan and of me. And I’ve my eye on someone to play Jodie’s daughter.”
He will not retire, he tells me defiantly. The very idea of it “bores” him.
Hard work is in his bones. “It’s what I believe in,” he says. “My mother used to say, ’You’re a long time dead.’”
He’s eager to sink his teeth into Glenrothan, which he will direct and star in. It’s about two estranged brothers. One, to be played by Cumming, has resided in America, the other — Cox’s character — has remained in the Scottish Highlands tending to the family’s 200-year-old single malt distillery.
“I just felt that there hasn’t been a film like this in Scotland since Local Hero,” he says, referring to Bill Forsyth’s 1983 classic produced by David Putnam and starring Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert and Fulton Mackay.
“It’s a generational thing — it’s also quite funny. And it’s a feel-good story as well and a celebration of a physical part of Scotland,” he says as he explains that Glenrothan will be set in and around the ancient village of Moulin, near Pitlochry, where there’s a “wonderful” distillery called Edradour.
“We’ll probably look to do a whisky deal to get a real whisky out,” he tells me.
Although he’s steeped in the arts, “I still try to do the political stuff as well because I get very angry about England,” he says.
He believes that this year’s UK general election will be brutal. “The Tories [Conservative Party] are going to play nasty, but they’re not going to win.”
He’s not “a big fan” of opposition Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer but concedes, “I think he might be a very good leader in the end.”
About the United Staes, he has harsh words. “This country’s f*cked,” he says with a Logan Roy flourish.
He has zero time for Donald Trump and his shenanigans, and while praising President Biden as “a very good man,” he says that “he’s too old and comes across as being frail, and that doesn’t help.
“I think they should be going for someone younger,” he suggests.
After all, he points out, “I know a little about succession.”
I leave the great man and go off in search of caviar. The HBO | Max events team has thought of everything. There’s a room serving Siberian reserve caviar with smoked trout mousse in black sesame seed cones created by Caviar Kaspia. Delicious.
I avoid the Tuscan sandwiches being prepared by All’Antico Vinaio because there’ll be no room to savor the sushi hand rolls prepared by the San Vicente Bungalows’ own executive sushi chef.
Upon arrival at the San Vicente venue, guests are handed cards denoting the location of the various food stations and facilities. And get this: There’s live karaoke with a four-piece Goodtime Boys band. I sit in and watch a few brave souls perform and realize I’ll have to deprive folk of my turn performing Stevie Wonder’s “If You Really Love Me.” Much safer for the other guests for me to head off and dance downstairs to the cool DJ. It’s really no good, though, being stone cold sober at these events, but strangely, I feel sort of intoxicated. Could be that I’m just having a good time because everybody else is?
The bungalow’s distinguished Maitre D’ Dimitri Dimitrov explains simply that I’m enjoying myself because “this is the place to be in L.A.”
Of course he would say that, but he’s right. It’s a super-party. Although I feel bad I never made it downtown to Disney and Netflix.
But, listen, there’s Kieran Culkin, Emmy trophy in hand, greeting Natasha Lyonne.
The Poker Face star tells me that she moved from New York to L.A. because she wanted a “house with a poo,l” but now she wouldn’t mind “a plane of my own. I have the pool, so why not dream about a plane?”
Why not, indeed. I mean, back in London, I dream of getting a seat on the subway.
I see Ali Wong with her Emmy for Netflix and A24’s Beef and with Barry’s Bill Hader in tow. They tell me they’ve hot-footed it from the Netflix bash. “I’m being a good girlfriend,” she explains. ”He was a good boyfriend and came to my party at Netflix, and it’s right I should come here [to HBO | Max].”
“It’s what good boyfriends and girlfriends do,” Hader smiles.
Later I spot Beef creator Lee Sung Jin leading a posse of the show’s creatives along the brick pathways, skillfully avoiding the bottlenecks. “You haven’t seen me, right?”
I talk soccer with John Oliver even though we support different clubs — he’s with Liverpool, as he mentioned during his acceptance speech, while I’m pure Arsenal. Later I spot him deep in conversation with Stephen Colbert.
There are so many walkways and stairs that one’s able to do a complete workout while partying at the same time. Genius.
I congratulate Succession’s Matthew Macfadyen on his awards haul from the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and Emmys. He’s with award-winning wife Keeley Hawes, who tells me she’s headed back to London to resume rehearsals for brand-new play, The Human Body by Lucy Kirkwood, which opens February 16 at the Donmar Warehouse.
“It’s a love letter to the National Health Service, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year,” she explains. ”And Windrush is wrapped up in it too,” she says, referring to a term related to people who emigrated from the Caribbean to postwar Britain to service the NHS and transportation systems.
Macfadyen’s screen wife Sarah Snook also was racing to London for stage rehearsals for The Picture of Dorian Gray, where she’ll perform all 26 parts in an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play. Performances begin February 6 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Not to be outdone, Macfadyen’s “other screen wife” — Cousin Greg, played by Nicholas Braun — tells me he has plans to tread the boards in the West End.
He reveals to Breaking Baz that he’ll star in a revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s 2001 play Lobby Hero to be directed by Trip Cullman, who oversaw a production on Broadway in 2018 that starred Michael Cera, Chris Evans, Brian Tyree Henry and Bel Powley.
It’s all in the “family” because J Cameron-Smith, Succession’s Gerri Kellman, is married to Lonergan.
Thanks, HBO — you sure know how to make a Nigerian Prince feel well looked after.
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