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Brian Cox is getting brutally honest in his upcoming memoir, “Putting the Rabbit in the Hat.” In the autobiography, slated for release on January 18, Cox shares his thoughts on several former co-stars and colleagues, including Johnny Depp, David Bowie, Ed Norton, Keanu Reeves, and more. The 75-year-old actor also delivers a scathing critique of Quentin Tarantino, and heartwarming words about Alan Rickman, whom he called one of the “sweetest, kindest, nicest, and most incredibly smart men I’ve ever met.”
From portraying Hannibal Lector in “Manhunter” to media magnate Logan Roy in “Succession” (currently streaming on HBO Max), Cox is familiar to many onscreen, but few know his life story. A native of Dundee, Scotland, Cox lost his father when he was just eight years old, and was brought up with help from his three older sisters as his mother suffered numerous mental breakdowns that led to hospitalization. As a teen, Cox joined the Dundee Repertory Theatre and went on to train at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before graduating at age 17 in 1965.
His candid, rags-to-riches story details the journey from a troubled, working-class upbringing to a prolific career spanning theater, film, and television. “Putting the Rabbit in the Hat” captures Cox’s distinctive and unapologetic voice, painting an emotional yet straightforward portrait of his life and career.
Several of the A-listers that Cox calls out in the book are his former co-stars such as Norton (“A nice lad but a bit of a pain in the arse because he fancies himself as a writer/director”), with whom Cox worked on Spike Lee’s “25th Hour.”
Cox revealed that Steven Seagal, his co-star in “The Glimmer Man,” is “as ludicrous in real life as he appears onscreen,” but he wasn’t very impressed with David Bowie (the rocker worked with Cox on the British TV series “Redcap”), noting that while he wasn’t a “particularly good actor,” Bowie found his footing as a pop star.
Although he hasn’t shared the screen with Depp (he turned down a role in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and from the sounds of it, he doesn’t regret it), Cox didn’t hold back when speaking on Depp’s acting skills.
“Personable though I’m sure he is, [he] is so overblown, so overrated. I mean, ‘Edward Scissorhands’. Let’s face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don’t have to do anything. And he didn’t. And subsequently, he’s done even less.”
Despite disliking Tarantino’s films, Cox admits that he would work with the Oscar-winning director. “I find his work meretricious. It’s all surface,” he writes. “Plot mechanics in place of depth. Style where there should be substance. I walked out of ‘Pulp Fiction’… That said, if the phone rang, I’d do it.”
The Emmy winner had kinder things to say about Keanu Reeves, his co-star in the ’90s sci-fi film “Chain Reaction,” alongside Morgan Freeman. Cox called Reeves a “seeker” who has “become rather good over the years,” and offered a double-sided compliment to Freeman. “I am pleased to say that although he was cold and pissed-off and watching bedlam reign around him, Morgan Freeman remained an absolute gentleman. Being the very epitome of Morgan Freeman. The Morgan Freeman you would hope to meet. The Morgan Freeman you encounter in your dreams.”
Cox recently discussed his autobiography in an interview with The Scottsman, explaining why he wanted to be so honest. “I think if you’re going to do something like that, you really have to tell the truth. Shoot the devil. It was cathartic, necessary. It was important for me because I’ve reached a certain age and I wanted to look at certain things in the light of one’s experience and be as truthful as I could be. Of course, there are things I left out, and also, have I been fair, particularly to the incredible women in my life?”
He continued, “And the other thing is, have I told the truth? Have I made it all up? You start getting panics about it. Am I being unfair to people, am I being unkind? There were all kinds of strange emotions [coming] up in the course of writing this book.”