Brian Cox Says Joaquin Phoenix Is 'Terrible' in “Napoleon” Movie: 'I Would Have Played It a Lot Better'

“I don’t know what he was thinking,” the 'Succession' star said of Phoenix’s performance in a conversation at HitFest 2024

<p>Alan Chapman/Dave Benett/Getty; Apple TV+</p> (Left-right:) Brian Cox on April 2; Joaquin Phoenix in "Napoleon"

Alan Chapman/Dave Benett/Getty; Apple TV+

(Left-right:) Brian Cox on April 2; Joaquin Phoenix in "Napoleon"

Brian Cox doesn’t mince words when talking about fellow actors’ performances.

The Succession star, 77, called Joaquin Phoenix’s work as Napoleon Bonaparte in Ridley Scott's biopic Napoleon “terrible” in a conversation at the British Library in London held on Sunday, April 14 as part of HistFest 2024.

“It really is appalling,” said the Scottish actor of the “truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix,” as reported by The Standard. “I don’t know what he was thinking.”

Related: 'Succession' Star Brian Cox Shares the Surprising Thing Fans Ask Him: 'Human Beings Are So Weird' (Exclusive)

Phoenix, 49, played Napoleon Bonaparte in the Oscar-nominated historical drama from director Scott and writer David Scarpa, released last November. The Joker Oscar winner starred opposite Vanessa Kirby as Josephine de Beauharnais, Tahar Rahim as Paul Barras, Rupert Everett as Arthur Wellesley and Ben Miles as Armand de Caulaincourt.

In his conversation with moderator Clive Myrie, titled “History on Stage and Screen,” Cox said of Napoleon’s lead role, “I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that.”

<p>Sony Pictures Entertainment</p> Joaquin Phoenix in "Napoleon"

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Joaquin Phoenix in "Napoleon"

He added that the blame was on Phoenix, adding, “I don’t think Ridley Scott helps him” as the film’s helmer. “I think he’s well-named. Joaquin… whack-een... whacky. It’s a sort of whacky performance.”

Representatives for Cox and Phoenix did not respond to requests for comment.

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Regarding the historical accuracy of Napoleon and other epics like it, Cox reportedly said, “You can say it’s good drama. No – it’s lies.” He also called the 1995 Best Picture Oscar winner Braveheart “a load of nonsense,” adding that director-star Mel Gibson “was wonderful but it’s a load of lies.”

Related: Joaquin Phoenix Slapped Vanessa Kirby for Unscripted 'Napoleon' Moment After They Agreed to 'Shock Each Other'

This was not the first time the Emmy-winning star of 2001’s Nuremberg has shared his unfiltered thoughts publicly. 

<p>Frazer Harrison/Getty</p> Brian Cox at the 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards on Jan. 15

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Brian Cox at the 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards on Jan. 15

"In my opinion, we shouldn't have a monarchy,” the U.K.-based Cox told Haute Living last year. “It's not viable; it doesn't make any sense. It's tradition and all that, they say. I say, 'F--- it! Move on!'”

At the season 4 premiere of Succession, which earned him a Golden Globe Award for his work as Logan Roy, Cox said he was "delighted" and "more than ready" for the show to end in 2023.

"A lot of shows outstay their welcome, and I think our show is perfect, and neat, in the way it is,” he told Entertainment Tonight.

Related: 'Succession' Shocker! Find Out Which Character Died and Why the Actor Says They Knew It Was Coming

In his conversation at HistFest, Cox also took aim at American politicians, calling Donald Trump an "idiot" and President Joe Biden "a good man but he’s too old.” 

The trained Shakespearean stage actor is currently starring in a West End production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. “Most critics are stupid,” he reportedly said at HistFest when asked about the response to the play. “Theatre criticism has gone right down the tubes.”

Cox most recently appeared on screen in the coming-of-age movie Little Wing, and will next be seen in Matt Greene-Delanghe’s film Skelly and heard in the animated movie The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim.

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