Brian Cox Slams Putin, Defends Russian Artists in SAG Award Acceptance Speech

"They are told, under pain of high treason, that they cannot say a word about Ukraine. And I think that is pretty awful," he said of artists living under Putin.
Brian Cox arrives at the 28th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Barker Hangar on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Brian Cox
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

There has been no shortage of support for Ukraine at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, with many stars wearing yellow and blue accessories to express solidarity with the European nation facing invasion by Russia. Brian Cox joined the chorus of supporters when “Succession” won the SAG Award for Ensemble in a Drama Series, condemning the Russian invasion as he accepted the Actor on behalf of the HBO series’ cast. Watch below.

“It’s truly, truly awful. Really, really awful, what’s happening. And It’s particularly awful in terms of what is affecting the other people, particularly in our profession,” Cox said. But then he went a step further and expressed sympathy for another group that has received considerably less attention this week: people living in Russia.

“The president of Ukraine was a comic. He was a wonderful comic performer. And we should respect that for him. And to come to the presidency was amazing. But the thing that’s really distressed me is what’s happening in Russia to my fellow actors and actresses and performers and writers and critics. They are told, under pain of high treason, that they cannot say a word about Ukraine. And I think that is pretty awful,” he said. “And I think we should all stand together. And also for those people in Russia who don’t like what’s going on, particularly the artists, I think we should really join in celebrating them and hoping they can actually make a shift, as I believe they can.”

Cox’s remarks come as the global film industry ponders the difficult question of how to deal with Russian cinema in the midst of the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Film Academy recently called for global film festivals to stop accepting films made in Russia and cut off Russian access to top European film financing organizations until the invasion ceases, calling Russian films “the culture of the aggressor state, which unleashed unjustified and unprovoked war in central Europe.” Cox’s comments add nuance to the situation and serve as a reminder that Vladimir Putin’s aggression towards Ukraine is not representative of the views of every Russian citizen.


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