Brian Cox, Golden Globe-winning star of HBO’s hit show Succession and the first Hannibal Lecter to make it to cinema screens, has spoken of how his clothes hoarding habit is a hangover from the poverty of his childhood in Dundee.
Appearing as Lauren Laverne’s guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday morning, Cox, 73, reveals that he has more outfits than his wife, the actor Nicole Ansari. “I am a bit of a hoarder. I have a thing about clothes,” he tells Laverne, choosing a sewing kit as his luxury item for his imaginary island stay. “It is one of those things you are left with, an insecurity. It has to come out somewhere.”
Cox’s father died when he was eight years old and his mother suffered with severe mental illness in the following years. The poverty that marked out his life then, the actor admits, has also made him “cautious” with money in adult life: “I can be a bit parsimonious at times.”
His socialism, he says, is rooted in his experience as a boy: “When you know poverty you know what socialism is and that we have to look after our people.”
The star, who plays Succession’s multi-millionaire anti-hero Logan Roy, the figurehead of a fictional media empire, also reveals that he believes the nihilistic character has a dark appeal for many fans of the show, which was created by the British writer Jesse Armstrong. “People tell me they love the naked ambition of someone like Logan and they think they love to hate him, but actually they love to love him too. It is complex.”
Media mogul Roy is not based directly on Conrad Black or Rupert Murdoch, as many have suggested, Cox says. “But Logan and I both have one thing in common; we find the human experiment rather disappointing. I flirt with misanthropy all the time, but I am an optimist, so I always come down on the good side.”
Choosing tracks by Jacques Brel, Joni Mitchell and Johnny Cash, the actor, who played Lecter in the 1986 Michael Mann film Manhunter, based on Thomas Harris’ book Red Dragon, also talks about his distrust of Hollywood. As a boyhood cinema fan he wanted to work in film, but came to love theatre after performing a season at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1980s, during which he gave an acclaimed performance as Titus Andronicus. “You can’t take any of it seriously in Hollywood, and you shouldn’t,” Cox says.