Succession Star Brian Cox Turned Down a Role in Game of Thrones—And Yes, He Feels "Silly"

"Succession star Brian Cox" could have been "Game of Thrones star Brian Cox."
"Succession star Brian Cox" could have been "Game of Thrones star Brian Cox." / Peter Kramer/HBO

From Manhunter to Braveheart all the way through to his current star turn in HBO’s Succession, Brian Cox has had an incredible career. He specializes in playing grizzled, no-nonsense types with a bit of an edge to them, which is why he’s so compelling as media empire head Logan Roy on Succession. Those same traits also would have served the Scottish actor well on Game of Thrones, and we might have actually seen it happen ... if only the Golden Globe-winning actor hadn't said "no."

"Stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn’t pay enough money,” Cox told Vodzilla back in 2016, shortly after Game of Thrones had wrapped its sixth season. "Now they have more money. And I was silly. I was silly, it was silly, because I’m a complete addict now. But I don’t know what I could play."

"I just watched my friend Ian McShane and I thought, ‘Ooh, Ian’s in it,' so I settled down to watch him," Cox continued. "And I thought, ‘Ian did that?’ and immediately I thought, ‘God, they must have paid him well,' because I know Ian! And there was Max von Sydow doing that character that he did. So in a way, it’s attracting certain people who do film and, of course, I’ve got friends like Clive Russell and Liam Cunningham—and Charlie Dance is an old pal—being in it. And they had a great time in it."

Deadwood star McShane had a short-lived role as Brother Ray, while von Sydow played the Three-Eyed Raven, Russell played Brynden “the Blackfish” Tully, Cunningham played Davos Seaworth, and Dance played the indomitable Tywin Lannister (who has a bit of a Logan Roy vibe about him). Cox did not elaborate on which role he was offered, but he certainly would have been in good—and familiar—company.

Who would Brian Cox have played on Game of Thrones?

Unsurprisingly, Cox regretted turning down his chance to appear in Game of Thrones, especially after witnessing some of the show's most spectacular episodes, like "Battle of the Bastards."

"Now I know what they spend on it, in terms of the visual aspect of it ... If you think of The Hobbit or you think of The Lord of the Rings, the battle sequence in Game of Thrones's ["Battle of the Bastards"] was a lot more modest, but much more brilliant than any of the battle sequences in any of those movies ... For television, it is truly astonishing."

By the time Cox gave this interview, he had finally come around and was up for revisiting the offer. "If they’ve got more decent money, I’ll be there," he said. While he might have missed his chance to appear on Game of Thrones, there's always the upcoming prequel, House of the Dragon.