• Brian Cox as the British Prime Minister (Churchill)Source: Churchill
Playing one of Britain's most recognisable politicians was about ignoring what's gone before - and making a pair of shoes.
SBS Guide

8 Apr 2019 - 9:58 AM  UPDATED 8 Apr 2019 - 9:59 AM

“I’m not interested”. Brian Cox is talking about the challenge of playing a role that’s not only based on a real person – and a highly recognisable one at that – but one that’s been depicted over and over again in movies, skits, documentaries and more.

His way through? Making like a cobbler. Yes, really. When Cox – whose list of roles ranges from comedy cult films like Supertroopers to roles in Oscarwinners like Braveheart and Shakespeare on stage – was cast as the war-weary British Minister in Churchill (watch it on April 5 on SBS), he says he did what he always does with previous incarnations.  

Talking on the SBS podcast The Playlist, Cox explains that he doesn’t look at what others have done.

“John [Lithgow, who played Churchill in Netflix series The Crown], who’s very generous, wrote me a very nice note welcoming me to the brotherhood of Churchills, but it’s your creation, acting is a very personal thing.

“Like a cobbler, I stick to my last, I’m not interested in their last or his last, I’ve got my own last and … I’m making my own set of shoes.”

This particular set of shoes give us a blustery but challenged Churchill in the days leading up to D-Day, battling depression along with everything else on his plate. “The actor slithers inside Churchill’s heavy, sagging flesh and morose embattled fury. He does a fantastic impersonation of Churchill’s stentorian British tones,” says Variety of the film, which was directed by Australian Jonathan Teplitzky. But Cox brings a vulnerability to the role too (apparently, he had an “a-ha!” moment while watching Family Guy with his children: “I go ‘that’s it! That’s Winston Churcull, Stewie Griffith in Family Guy, with a British accent, the misunderstood kid talking in ways that nobody is going to get!” he tells STACK. )

Cox tells The Playlist that the script was what drew him in. “Occasionally, like Churchill, you get a great script and go ‘wow, this is a must’.”

And his top tip for young actors? Talk clearly!

Watch Churchill at SBS On Demand.

And listen to The Playlist for more on Cox’s tips for young actors, which two actors were the biggest influences on his career (you might be surprised), playing Hannibal Lecter and a rather good impression of Michael Caine.

The Playlist 18 - Discussing Wonder Woman and 'Churchill' star Brian Cox

Fiona Williams and Nick Bhasin offer their thoughts on the latest Wonder Woman film. Was the film the breath of fresh air fans have been waiting for? They then chat with actor Brian Cox, who is starring in the new biopic about Churchill. Cox is also no stranger to superheroes, having starred as the villain in the second X-Men film (the best one).

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