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Brian Cox comes out with guns blazing and tears into Joaquin Phoenix's "truly terrible" Napoleon performance

Well, at least he's being sincere.

Napoleon (2023) - Joaquin Phoenix
Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

Despite some high praise from certain groups of critics and moviegoers, Ridley Scott's Napoleon epic garnered a bit of a divisive reception last year, with Joaquin Phoenix's performance being a part of that. Now, British acting legend Brian Cox (of recent Succession fame) has also criticised the movie and its main actor.

Cox has a long history of not giving a s**t when it comes to interviews and side gigs (such as that incredible Tekken 8 trailer he narrated). His recent rant at HistFest (via The Standard) is on an entirely different level, however.

The veteran actor had negative things to say about method acting, Donald Trump, and theatre critics, but also had some bullets to spare for Phoenix's Napoleon performance as well as the (lack of) guidance he was given by Ridley Scott. "Terrible. It’s terrible," he declared, "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. I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that." It's the last sentence that sells the whole thing, I'd say. Just sublime stuff.

As mentioned before, Phoenix, much like the historical epic, was a bit of a hit-and-miss with critics and general moviegoers alike, so it's not strange to hear more criticism of his performance, but reading about Cox, who notoriously never pulls his punches, completely demolishing it is really funny. While he was at it, he also roasted Mel Gibson's Braveheart, another movie within the same genre that he seemingly dislikes in spite of enjoying the lead actor's performance. "Braveheart is a load of nonsense," Cox opined, "Mel Gibson was wonderful but it’s a load of lies. He never impregnated the French princess. It is a bollocks [sic] that film."

Personally, I think getting burned so badly by Brian Cox is the kind of thing I'd feel proud of (while reevaluating my professional choices, of course), print out, and hang on my wall. I'm anxiously awaiting Phoenix's answer though. Let's hope a journalist brings this up in the coming weeks or months, especially with Joker: Folie à Deux coming soon.

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