Warning: There be spoilers for Succession Season 4 Episode 3, which had a big, shocking thing happen.
Over four seasons of Succession, Brian Cox has gone from respected character actor — he was the original screen incarnation of Hannibal Lecter, in 1986’s Manhunter, to name one illustrious credit — to a household name. Since then he’s cut a fearsome figure. Not only is he terrifying as tyrannical one-man business empire Logan Roy, but he’s not above speaking his mind, including about his colleagues’ acting approaches.
So if you’re Jesse Armstrong, Succession’s creator and showrunner, and you have to inform Cox that his character’s going to eat it, you’d probably be a little on edge. In a behind-the-episode featurette on HBO Max, Armstrong talks about what that was like.
“I was very nervous to tell him ’cause there’s lots of anxieties about whether it’s the right creative decision, and there’s anxieties that someone who I love working with and who’s been at the center of the show will feel rejected on a human level for not being in it anymore when he’s been so central to the whole thing,” Armstrong revealed.
But he had nothing to worry about, and Cox “took it like a total pro,” Armstrong said. “He was professional and decent and kind enough to make it a pretty good meeting but a sad and significant one.”
Cox repaid the compliment. “When you work with the genius of somebody like Jesse, it’s always sad when that comes to an end, there’s no question about it, because you’ve had such great respect,” he says in the featurette.
In short, Brian Cox in real life isn’t as terrifying as Logan Roy. Even if you do some variation on Method acting on set, the worst he’s going to do is complain about you to journalists.