Brian Cox
Birth Date:
June 1, 1946
Birth Place:
Dundee, Scotland, UK
5' 7" (1.70 m)
Famous for:
His role as Hannibal Lecter in 'Manhunter' (1986)
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Original Hannibal Lecter


First noticed in the early 1970s with performances in numerous British television films, Scottish-born actor Brian Cox eventually rose to prominence for his Broadway work and his American films and TV roles. He is best remembered for being the first actor to play serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the Michael Mann film ''Manhunter'' (1986) and for playing Wolverine nemesis William Stryker in the superhero film ''X-Men 2'' (2003).

The BAFTA-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actor has played significant roles in such films as "Nicholas and Alexandra" (1971), ''Hidden Agenda'' (1990), ''Rob Roy'' (1994), "Braveheart" (1995), ''The Long Kiss Goodnight'' (1996), ''Rushmore'' (1998), ''For the Love of the Game'' (1999), "L.I.E." (2001), ''Murder by Numbers'' (2002), ''The Ring'' (2002), "The Bourne Identity" (2002), "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004), ''Troy'' (2004), "Running with Scissors" (2006), "Zodiac" (2007), and "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep" (2007). His upcoming films include "Agent Crush" (voice), "Trick 'r Treat," "Red," "The Escapist, "Wide Blue Yonder," "Shoot on Sight" and "Milestones."

As for his stage work, the LAMDA graduate who debuted with the Dundee Repertory in 1961, has played many Shakespearean leading roles, most notably ''Titus Adronicus'' (1987) and ''King Lear'' (1990-1991). British TV viewers could catch the Emmy-winning actor in ''Acting in Tragedy'' in the BBC ''Masterclass'' series (1990), ''The Lost Language of Cranes'' (BBC; 1991), ''Sharpe'' (ITV; 1993), and ''Food for Ravens'' (1997), while American audiences saw him as theater owner Jack Langrishe (2006) in the HBO "Deadwood." Cox also has released two publications: ''Salem to Moscow: An Actor's Odyssey'' (1991) and ''The Lear Diaries'' (1992).

The 5' 7" player has been married twice and has four children. He was awarded the C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2002 New Year's Eve Honors List.

Brian Denis

Childhood and Family:

A descendant of 19th century Irish immigrants, Brian Denis Cox was born in Dundee, Scotland, on June 1, 1946, to Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, a weaver, and Mary Ann Guillerline, a Roman Catholic spinner who worked in the jute mills. The youngest of five, Cox was raised primarily by his older sisters and an aunt following his father's untimely death (when Cox was nine) and his mother's subsequent mental breakdowns. Although he developed a reputation as the class clown in school, he actually was troubled and barely achieved passing grades.

At the age of 14, Cox joined the Dundee Repertory Theatre and subsequently spent a season with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1966. He also trained at the Royal Lyceum Edinburgh and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).

From 1968 to 1986, Cox was married to Caroline Burt, with whom he has two children: a daughter named Margaret Cox (born in 1977) and a son named Alan Cox (born on August 6, 1970; played Watson in "Young Sherlock Holmes"). In 2002, he married his second and present wife, Nicole Ansari, and they have two sons together: Orson Cox (born on January 31, 2002) and Torin Kamran Charles (born on October 26, 2004).

Cox is diabetic and has worked to promote a diabetes research facility in his home town of Dundee where he is also a patron of "The Space," a training facility for actors and dancers. The writer of two non-fiction books, ''Salem to Moscow: An Actor's Odyssey'' (1991) and ''The Lear Diaries'' (1992), Cox is also an educator and has spent some time passing along his skills to future thespians through courses at Harvard University, Cal Arts and via the video training course "Acting and Tragedy."

Cox was awarded the C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2002 New Year's Eve Honors List.

The Lear Diaries


"When I was a kid, I wanted to be in the movies. I grew up with an Irish-Scottish background; my family being Irish immigrants who moved to Scotland in the middle part of the last century. My family was all farmers and when the potato famine hit, we packed up and moved to Dundee, Scotland, a mill town that was previously a whaling town. My culture was working class and was influenced by American cinema, not English cinema, which was totally alien because I was a Scots and Irish and there nothing Anglo-Saxon (British) about me. All of those zany British comedies didn’t mean anything to me. Such films as 'Angels with Dirty Faces' and Spencer Tracy films meant more to me on the screen because I understood that. I had those people in my community. One of my favorite films is 'The Court Jester' with Danny Kaye." Brian Cox

Discovered by the Dundee Repertory Theatre when he was 14, Brian Cox made his stage acting debut in "Dover Road" and spent the next several years honing in on his craft there. After graduating from LAMDA, he went on to sharpen his skills in the British repertory system and eventually made his London stage debut in the 1967 Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of "As You Like It,'' playing the role of Orlando. Two years later, he portrayed a miner's son in his first association with the Royal Court Theatre in London in the play "In Celebration," playing Steven, a role which he would later reprise in its film version in 1975.

In 1971, Cox landed his film debut in the historical epic "Nicholas and Alexandra," in which he played Trotsky, and subsequently returned to stage the next year to appear in the play "Hedda Gabler" at the Royal Court. He also made his stage directing debut with "The Man with a Flower in His Mouth" (Manchester) in 1973 and began working at the National Theatre in London in 1976.

In the early 1980s, Cox appeared on television as Laurent Raquin, opposite Kate Nelligan, in "Therese Raquin," which aired in the U.S. on PBS. He then played the title role in the National Theatre production of "Danton' Death." In 1984, he co-starred opposite Glenda Jackson on the London stage in Eugene O'Neill's play "Strange Interlude" and received applause for his leading performance in the stage play "Rat in the Skull," for which he was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actor. That same year, he also played Burgundy, supporting Laurence Olivier in the TV adaptation of "King Lear."

Cox made his Broadway debut in 1985 reprising his role in "Strange Interlude," opposite Glenda Jackson. Also that year, he reprised his lead role in an Off-Broadway staging of "Rat in the Skull" at the Public Theater.

"I had a particular bad year when I was 36. I had reached a bit of an impasse. I just wanted to do film and television and I couldn’t even get arrested. I had been doing leads at the National Theater and then I was out of work for about ten months. I then changed my perspective and two plays I was doing in the U.K. were sent over to America with myself in tow. During the second play, Bonnie Timmermann (casting agent for the film 'Manhunter') saw me and that’s how I got the role as Lecter." Brian Cox

In 1986, Cox portrayed the role of serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter in director Michael Mann's psychological thriller film, "Manhunter," based on the Thomas Harris' novel ''Red Dragon.'' Cox based his portrayal of Lecter on Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel. Before Cox was cast for the role, John Lithgow, Mandy Patinkin, and Brian Dennehy were all considered to play Lecter, a role that would later be played by Anthony Hopkins in the critically acclaimed "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991).

Despite generally positive critical reviews, "Manhunter" was a box office flop. However, considered by many as the best of the Lecter series, "Manhunter" has now become a cult classic. Following his breakout role as Lecter, Cox returned to England and made his stage breakthrough performance playing the title role in a production of "Titus Andronicus" (1988) for which he was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award and the London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Best Actor. He then originated the role of Frankie in the London premiere of Terrence McNally's "Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair-de-Lune" (1989) and embarked on a world tour playing the title role in "King Lear" (1990-1991).

On screen, Cox portrayed a closeted gay who must confront his own sexual orientation when his son reveals he is gay, in the British TV adaptation of "The Lost Language of Cranes" (1991), for which he was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor, and played a very rich man who has had duplicate copies of his wife made, in the British TV movie "The Cloning of Joanna May" (1991), which was inspired by Fay Weldon's novel. In 1993, he could be seen in multiple episodes of BBC’s historical drama "Sharpe" and playing the title role in the BBC film "Grushko."

After ten additional years of U.K. theater work, Cox returned to America in the mid 1990s and landed roles in the 1995 period epics "Rob Roy" and "Braveheart.” In 1997, he became an IRA leader in "The Boxer," starred in the L.A. premiere of David Hare's play "Skylight" and garnered positive reviews for his performance in the one-person play by Conor McPherson, "St. Nicholas," which he later reprised in New York City.

Cox spent the rest of the decade in Wes Anderson's "Rushmore," the HBO novel-based movie "Poodle Springs," co-starring with James Caan, and in the unsold pilot for CBS, "The Family Brood.” After succeeding Alan Alda as Marc in the award-winning "Art" (1998) on Broadway, he returned to the wide screen as the crusty owner of a baseball team in "For Love of the Game" and as an unhappily married man who takes in a serial killer (played by Owen Wilson) as a boarder in "The Minus Man" (both in 1999).

The new millennium saw Cox act in McPherson's play "Dublin Carol,” portray the bankrupt owner of a chip shop in "Saltwater" and co-star in "Longitude," which aired in the U.S. on A&E. He also received rave reviews for his outstanding turn as Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering in the TNT miniseries "Nuremberg," which won him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie and a Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series. He also received nominations at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Following his Emmy win, Cox was featured in two motion pictures that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, "Super Troopers," as the lovable, paternal Police Chief John O'Hagan, and "L.I.E." (both in 2001), as a pedophile. His brilliant performance in the latter film won a Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, and a Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC) Award for Best Actor. He also received nominations at the AFI Film Awards, Chlotrudis Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards.

"Well, what happened was the script was sent to me about two years ago. When I read it I thought, ‘Boy, this is a difficult one.’ The reasons then began to mount up for not doing the film. Those reasons then became the catalysts for doing the film." Brian Cox (on taking the part in the film "L.I.E.,” 2001)

From 2001 to 2002, Cox had a co-starring role in the ABC midseason replacement "The Court." He also played supporting roles in the 2001 films "Strictly Sinatra" and "The Affair of the Necklace" and appeared in the supernatural/high-tech thriller "The Ring" and Spike Lee's "The 25th Hour" (both in 2002). He teamed up with Matt Damon in "The Bourne Identity" (2002) and supported Paul Bettany in "The Reckoning" (2002). He was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Phoenix Film Critics Society (PFCS) Award for his portrayal of real-life screenwriting seminar instructor Robert McKee in Kaufman's pseudo-autobiographical film "Adaptation" (2002) and was nominated for an Emmy for his guest performance as Harry Moon in the episode "Moons Over Seattle" of the NBC sitcom "Frasier."

After portraying Wolverine's nemesis, the anti-mutant crusader Stryker in "X2" (2003), the sequel to "X-Men," Cox was cast as the robust evil Agamemnon in director Wolfgang Petersen's Greek epic "Troy" (2004) and revised the role of Ward Abbott in "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004; opposite Matt Damon). He also received and Outstanding Achievement Award from BAFTA in 2004.

In 2005, Cox co-starred in Woody Allen's "Match Point" and joined the cast of HBO's "Deadwood,” for which he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2007. He played Dr. Finch in "Running With Scissors" (2006) and returned to the stage in the play "Rock 'n' Roll" by Tom Stoppard at the Royal Court Theatre (June-July 2006) and The Duke of York Theatre (July-September 2006). He also received an Icon Award at the Empire Awards.

Recently, Cox could be seen as Melvin Belli, a celebrity defense attorney, in David Fincher's thriller "Zodiac" (2007), for which he was nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Drama, and Old Angus in the newly-released fantasy film directed by Jay Russell, "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," alongside Alex Etel, Emily Watson and David Morrissey.

Cox has completed an animated adventure by director Sean Robinson titled "Agent Crush" and a Halloween themed drama/comedy by writer/director Michael Dougherty called "Trick 'r Treat." He will soon wrap up "Red," a novel-based drama/thriller by Trygve Allister Diesen and Lucky McKee in which he will co-star with Tom Sizemore, "The Escapist," a thriller by Rupert Wyatt in which he will star opposite Joseph Fiennes, and "Wide Blue Yonder," a dark comedy by Robert Young in which he will play the lead role of an old rogue who breaks all the rules. He is currently filming Jag Mundhra's suspense drama/thriller "Shoot on Sight" and Derek Lister's musical drama "Milestones.”

Between his hectic schedule, Cox has written two non-fiction books, ''Salem to Moscow: An Actor's Odyssey'' (1991) and "The Lear Diaries" (1992), a journal about his experience playing the title role of ''King Lear'' for the National Theatre.

"Hopefully, I will be holding more leading roles by the time I reach 70. Everything seems to happen in its own time. It’s all made sense to me but hasn’t made sense to other people… what’s for you won’t go by you. You come to things in your own time and with my career, I have been very lucky with the varieties I’ve experienced. I’ve worked in Russia, I’ve taught in the Moscow Arts Theater and I’ve written books. Acting hasn’t been my whole life though I enjoy it now and I hope to direct as well." Brian Cox


  • Empire: Icon Award, 2006

  • BAFTA: Outstanding Achievement Award, 2004

  • Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, "L.I.E.," 2002

  • Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC): Best Actor, "L.I.E.," 2001

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, "Nuremberg,&qu t; 2001

  • Gemini: Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series, "Nuremberg," 2001

  • Laurence Olivier Theatre: Best Actor in a Revival, "Titus Andronicus," 1989

  • London Critics Circle Theatre (Drama Theatre Award): Best Actor, ''The Taming of the Shrew,'' 1987

  • London Critics Circle Theatre (Drama Theatre Award): Best Actor, ''Titus Andronicus,'' 1987

  • London Critics Circle Theatre (Drama Theatre Award): Best Actor, ''Fashion,'' 1987

  • Laurence Olivier Theatre: Best Actor in a New Play, "Rat in the Skull," 1985

  • London Critics Circle Theatre (Drama Theatre Award): Best Actor, ''Rat in the Skull,'' 1984

  • London Critics Circle Theatre (Drama Theatre Award): Best Actor, ''Strange Interlude,'' 1984

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