Brian Cox is so over Logan Roy.
Or at least, he left Succession’s reigning media-empire patriarch behind on the set of HBO’s Emmy-winning TV drama as the gruff Scottish performer blasted Method acting during a post-screening Q&A at the Toronto Film Festival for Prisoner’s Daughter.
“I don’t hold a lot of the American shit, having to have a religious experience every time you play a part. It’s crap,” Cox said of totally immersing himself in a movie or TV series performance to the point of obsession.
“I don’t hang onto the characters I play. I let them go through me. The thing is to be ready to accept, as an actor. You stand there, you’re ready to accept whatever is thrown at you,” he added while on stage at Roy Thomson Hall after he and fellow castmembers, including Kate Beckinsale, Tyson Ritter and Christopher Convery, and Prisoner’s Daughter director Catherine Hardwicke, received a warm round of applause from the Toronto audience after the world premiere of the drama about family reconciliation.
In Prisoner’s Daughter, Cox plays Max, a convict given a compassionate release from prison after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he then has to go live out his last days with his estranged daughter, played by Beckinsale. Max also becomes acquainted with the grandson he’s never known, played by Convery.
“Max was a great role, no question. He was always on retreat, as a father. Logan is a different character altogether. He’s not on retreat. Except, deep down, he is. But his reactions come on the front foot, because of his background,” Cox added as he insisted different dynamics for characters in Succession and Prisoner’s Daughter call for different acting styles on set.
“So you allow people to come through you. We’re British. We come from a ‘great tradition,’” he insisted with a mocking tone.
“The Commonwealth, baby,” Beckinsale added cheeringly to the Canadian audience.
“You just let it come through you. And you don’t get in the fucking way,” Cox continued, now on a roll as the Toronto festival audience reacted with another round of applause.
Cox’s comments follow his Emmy-winning Succession co-star Jeremy Strong having made headlines for a New Yorker profile published late last year in which individuals who have worked with Strong weighed in on techniques he uses to get into character, such as having asked to be sprayed with real tear gas for The Trial of the Chicago 7. Strong told the publication at the time that he does not consider himself a Method actor but said about his tactics, “If I have any method at all, it is simply this: to clear away anything — anything — that is not the character and the circumstances of the scene.”
Also during the TIFF event, Twilight and Thirteen director Hardwicke — who helmed Prisoner’s Daughter from a screenplay by Canadian scribe Mark Bacci — paid tribute to Convery for being able to act opposite Cox and Beckinsale, given the pedigree of the veteran British thespians. “You’re very brave to hold your own,” she told the young actor.
Throughout the brief Q&A, Cox and Beckinsale were full of banter and gallows humor directed at one another.
“Brian has been around. I have a history with him. You’re a stalker,” she told Cox at one point after insisting she had seen him as a fan many times on stage in Britain as she grew up and trained as an actress.
“I’m a stalker? You’re a stalker. I’ve never been a stalker. You’re definitely a stalker!” Cox shot back.
“I’m wearing your knickers at the moment,” Beckinsale said in response, using a common British term to refer to women’s underwear.
“She stole them. She stole them. I had a whole bunch of them, and they’re all gone,” Cox replied, before then striking a serious tone by paying tribute to Hardwicke as the director. “I didn’t know what to expect this afternoon, I have to confess… But the great thing is that woman’s heart, and that’s what’s in the show,” he said with a nod to Hardwicke.
And then he praised Beckinsale for her dedication to the role as Maxine, a daughter who reluctantly accepts her convict father and, as a single mother, has to work multiple jobs to maintain her Las Vegas home and care for her epileptic son.
“She’s so committed to the role, you can’t go wrong when you’re acting against something like that,” Cox said.
The Toronto Film Festival continues through Sept. 18.