Brian Cox's royal refusal: why he turned down Game of Thrones

Virgin Radio

7 Feb 2024, 16:40

Credit: Getty/HBO

The Succession star reveals the comical reason he passed on Westeros.

In the ever-expanding universe of Game of Thrones, where kings rise and fall like autumn leaves, one royal role went unclaimed by a prominent actor – Brian Cox, the powerhouse behind Succession.

Surprisingly, the reason for Cox's refusal wasn't dragons, White Walkers, or political intrigue; it was the allure of cold, hard Westerosi cash.

In 2011, when Game of Thrones was still a fledgling fantasy series, casting decisions could hardly predict the cultural juggernaut the show would become.

Actors like Jason Momoa, who portrayed Khal Drogo, took their initial steps into the world of Westeros, unaware of the phenomenon that would follow.

Brian Cox, however, had a different tale to tell.

In an excerpt from his upcoming memoir, Cox candidly reveals why he turned down the opportunity to portray Robert Baratheon, a character fated to meet his end in the jaws of a boar.

"I’m often asked if I was offered a role in Game of Thrones — reason being that every other bugger was — and the answer is, yes, I was supposed to be a king called Robert Baratheon," Cox writes.

His character's demise, orchestrated by a boar, was an early plot twist that left audiences stunned.

The actor, known for his wit both on and off-screen, laid bare the comical reality of his decision.

"I know very little about Game of Thrones, so I can’t tell you whether or not he was an important character, and I’m not going to google it just in case he was because I turned it down."

Cox's rationale for snubbing the Seven Kingdoms was a financial one. At the time, the show's potential hadn't fully materialised, and the compensation offered to its cast didn't match the astronomical figures associated with later seasons.

"Game of Thrones went on to be a huge success, and everybody involved earned an absolute fortune, of course. But when it was originally offered, the money was not all that great, shall we say."

The actor humorously acknowledged the consequences of his decision.

"I was going to be killed off fairly early on, so I wouldn’t have had any of the benefits of the long-term effects of a successful series where your wages go up with each passing season."

In the end, Mark Addy assumed the crown, facing the boar's wrath that might have been Cox's destiny, which he had to google to learn about.

Perhaps he can earn his keep, and stay alive, in spinoff House of the Dragon.

As for Brian, his decision led him down a different path of success with Succession, proving that sometimes, in the game of acting, it's not just about the Iron Throne; it's also about the ironclad contracts.