Brian Cox Calls Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Napoleon’ Performance ‘Truly Terrible’: ‘I Would Have Played It a Lot Better’

Brian Cox utterly eviscerated Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon,” calling it “truly terrible” and arguing he would have done a better job if given the role.

“Terrible. It’s terrible. A truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix. It really is appalling,” Cox said during a live conversation at HistFest, The Standard reported. “I don’t know what he was thinking. I think it’s totally his fault and I don’t think Ridley Scott helps him. I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that. You can say it’s good drama. No, it’s lies.”

After dragging Phoenix’s acting in the movie, Cox took a few jabs at his name.

“I think he’s well named. Joaquin … whackeen … whacky. It’s a sort of whacky performance,” Cox said.

The “Succession” star then shared that he also had issues with Hollywood’s tendency to jazz up historical events with fake storylines in an effort to make a film or series more entertaining.

“Braveheart is a load of nonsense,” Cox said. “Mel Gibson was wonderful but it’s a load of lies. He never impregnated the French princess.”

He also didn’t hold back with his thoughts about Method acting and critics who have compared his roles from his stage projects to his “Succession” performance.

“Oh no, that’s all bollocks. It’s a kind of nonsense. We’re transmitters. That’s what we are as actors. We transmit energy,” Cox said, mentioning that he feels it’s better for an actor to do research rather than staying in character outside of set. “You have to do your homework,” he said. “That’s the delight of it, the information you get because you’re reading everything about Churchill and you’re building up a picture of who this person was.”

He added that he feels theater criticism is a dying art.

“It’s stupid! Why make that comparison? It’s so obvious,” he shared. “Most critics are stupid. They really are. Theater criticism has gone right down the tubes. You think of those wonderful critics of the past, there’s nobody to match them now. Because they don’t do their homework.”

“Napoleon” was written by David Scarpa and directed and coproduced by Scott. The film, which debuted in theaters in November, was centered on the commander’s rise to emperor status and his volatile relationship with his wife, Josephine.

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