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Brian Cox Hated One Joaquin Phoenix Performance - And He Isn't Holding Back

Ridley Scott's historical epic "Napoleon" didn't exactly make a splash when it hit theaters in November 2023 ... but apparently, "Succession" star Brian Cox has some thoughts about the entire endeavor.

During an appearance at Histfest (via The Independent UK), Cox laid waste to Scott's film, going after star Joaquin Phoenix — who played the French emperor alongside Vanessa Kirby as his wife Josephine — in particular. 

"Terrible. It's terrible," Cox said of the movie. "A truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix. It really is appalling. I don't know what he was thinking. I think it's totally his fault and I don't think Ridley Scott helps him."

Not only that, but Cox said that the movie perhaps could have been improved — maybe — if he would have been the one to play Napoleon Bonaparte. "I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that," Cox boasted. "You can say it's good drama. No – it's lies."

Cox didn't stop there; he also decided that the Oscar-winning actor's name was fair game for further ridicule. "I think he's well named," Cox quipped. "Joaquin...whackeen... whacky. It's a sort of whacky performance."

Critics didn't think much of Napoleon — and nor did the French

It's safe to say that Brian Cox isn't alone when it comes to disliking the movie "Napoleon." The film boasts a middling 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a muddled critical consensus that reads, "Ridley Scott is intent on proving the emperor has no clothes in 'Napoleon,' a slyly funny epic with bravura set pieces and a divided runtime that keeps it from outright conquering." 

Then there's the people of France, who rose up in characteristically critical fashion to decry the film. According to a recap in the BBC, French outlet Le Figaro said the movie should be named "Barbie and Ken under the Empire," and GQ's French branch called the actors' American and British accents — employed as they were fighting for their "home country" of France — "deeply clumsy, unnatural and unintentionally funny." 

Much like Cox, Ridley Scott loves a good clapback, and he responded directly to the BBC with a critique of the French populace. "The French don't even like themselves," Scott said in response to the aforementioned jabs. "The audience that I showed it to in Paris, they loved it."

Ultimately, nobody will ever know if Cox would have been better than Phoenix, but "Napoleon's" middling reviews and reputation say all that's needed. As for Cox, he definitely has a history of making absolutely absurd comments.

Brian Cox loves making bold, controversial statements and jabs

If there's one thing Brian Cox absolutely loves, it's making bombshell comments — and it goes far beyond his take on Ridley Scott's "Napoleon." Cox, who played the vile, abusive Roy family patriarch Logan on the hit HBO series "Succession," has spoken out plenty about things he didn't like, including his newfound fame and the fact that his character died too "early" in the final season.

Then there's Cox's memoir "Putting the Rabbit in the Hat," where he goes after a number of Hollywood heavyweights like Johnny Depp and Steven Seagal. Of Depp, Cox called him "overblown" and "overrated" before writing, "I mean, Edward Scissorhands. Let's face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don't have to do anything. And he didn't. And subsequently, he's done even less." Seagal, as Cox put it, is "as ludicrous in real life as he appears onscreen."

It's safe to say that Cox never pulls his punches, and his next target is anyone's guess. For now, we definitely know how he feels about "Napoleon."