Movie star Brian Cox calls Putin ‘monstrous’ and praises Russia’s arts community

The Dundee-born Hollywood star has been passionate about Russia ever since he taught acting students at the Moscow Art Theater in the 1980s, and more recently revisited the country in a miniseries ‘Brian Cox’s Russia’ .

Speaking during Brian Cox’s interview, which will air on BBC Scotland today, the 75-year-old said Putin wanted to return to an old era of the Soviet Republic, which the actor says “gone now”.

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Cox, who has previously spoken out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine by winning a Succession Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in February, told BBC Scotland interviewer Amy Irons: “It’s so hard to talk about the Russia because the artistic community is torn apart now because they have been put on a gag, they have no right to express anything, it’s up to three years in detention for the slightest complaint.

Brian Cox as Logan Roy in Succession

“They are trying to work around it and the famous logo of the Moscow Arts Theater is Chekhov’s seagull and they put the bird of peace on it now to show they care about peace.

“And there are a lot of artists, a lot of writers, directors, performers, who are torn about what’s happened, because they’ve had so many years of freedom since the 80s, they’ve done the most amazing job and there’s this man who wants to get back to an old situation that’s gone, it’s gone now.

Cox’s connection to Russia dates back to his first film role in 1971 when he played Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky in the historical drama Nicholas and Alexandra.

He then worked with students at the Moscow Art Theater School and directed a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which he wrote about in his book Salem to Moscow: An Actor’s Odyssey.

He returned to the country to produce the 2017 TV mini-series Brian Cox’s Russia in which he uncovered centuries of shared Russian-Scottish history and the stories of Scots who call Russia home.

Despite his views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he tells The Brian Cox Interview that if he were to play President Putin in an acting role, he would aim not to judge the character, but to try to see the world from his point of view.

He said: “The thing for me as an actor is you never judge who you play… The obvious example is Putin. You watch Putin and the man is completely monstrous but then you say ‘well what’s his story, where was he?’

“He was a KGB colonel who at one time worked as a taxi driver because of his fate, who feels he wants to go back to an old Soviet Republic era.

“If you play someone like Putin, you have to understand who he is, why he is, and why his belief system has become the belief system he is. And that means not judging.”

Cox’s acting career spans more than 60 years, including roles in blockbuster films including Manhunter, in which he played Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, and Oscar-winning Braveheart, by Mel Gibson.

* Brian Cox’s interview airs on BBC Scotland tonight at 10pm.

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