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In the ultraviolent 13th-century action yarn IRONCLAD,
65-year-old Scottish actor Brian Cox stars as the leader of a motley crew of
tough, battle-hardened warriors/underdogs who try to defend a castle besieged
by the army of the blood-crazed King John (Paul Giamatti). The film, written
and directed by MINOTAUR’s Jonathan English, premieres on VOD this Wednesday,
followed by a theatrical release on July 8. See below for our exclusive chat
with Cox, star of such fan favorites as THE RING, MANHUNTER, X2, TRICK ’R
TREAT, ZODIAC and RED EYE, as well as the upcoming RISE OF THE APES.
FANGORIA: Can you tell me about the character you play in
BRIAN COX: Yeah, I play the Duke of Albany. He’s based on a
real character, and he was the one who organized the siege at Rochester Castle,
this hopeless battle. He was actually holding up there because he thought the
Scottish army was on its way [to help them]. That was actually never mentioned
in the script, but I discovered later that was the real reason that they stayed
and fought. But in the end, because King John [pictured right] had done a deal
with the French, the Scottish assistance never arrived. That castle was being
held on behalf of the northern lords who had made an alliance with the Scottish
king. And the Scottish king was on the move south. But that was one of the
reasons why that castle became very crucial.
This was at a particularly crucial
point in English history, the planning of Magna Carta. Albany was part of the
New Age middle class, a whole new group of people going toward constitutional
monarchy. King John was trying to put an end to all this, because he was forced
to sign Magna Carta, and he reneged. John wasn’t quite as despotic as he’s played
in the film. But the history of King John, if you look at all those ROBIN HOOD
films, he’s always this kind of weak, whining king in the middle of it all. He
gets a bad wrap sometimes.
FANG: What appealed to you about playing the Baron Albany?
COX: I liked the story, and it tickled me that IRONCLAD was
basically another version of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. I liked that kind of movie
since I was a kid, including THE SEVEN SAMURAI, which was the original version.
So IRONCLAD was an intriguing film, the idea of these seven men. And it was a
very good script. It was very ambitious; I really didn’t know if they’d pull it
off, because it was a very small budget, but they did. It was really done quite
FANG: Was the story of the siege a familiar one to British
COX: Well, history students would know it. It’s not a
familiar one to me. I knew a lot about that period, but I didn’t know about the
full ramifications of the siege of Rochester. That was a revelation; I was
fascinated by that.
FANG: You get into some thick action in the film. Can you
talk about some of the swordplay and derring-do you get up to?
COX: Well, Richard Ryan, who I worked with on TROY, is one
of the best fight arrangers there is. He’s superb. He did that amazing fight in
TROY between Eric Bana and Brad Pitt at the end of the movie. So he’s a very
impressive guy. So that was well taken care of and well in position, so
IRONCLAD was a very good thing to work on with him in charge.
FANG: Was the flaky weather in the UK accommodating to
IRONCLAD? There were a lot of exteriors…
COX: [Laughs] Well, Wales was wet Wales. British wet Wales,
and wet Wales it is. It actually helped the movie in a way, it gave the movie
an amazing atmosphere, and that was what was exciting about it. Tough
conditions from my point of view; we had to work with the weather being the way
it was, and it was demanding. We certainly earned our money. You know, the mud
and the stuff on our clothes, which got weighed down…
FANG: You’ve been in a number of horror and fantasy roles
over the years. Are you a fan of the genre?
COX: Relatively. I once read with the famous Peter Cushing,
and he always referred to horror films as fantasy films, and I do understand
what he means by that. I’ve been lucky in that way. It’s not my favorite. I
like Westerns, except we don’t make Westerns anymore. Maybe one day we will.
FANG: You mentioned Cushing; what project did you work on
COX: I did an episode of HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR [1980’s “The
Silent Scream”], this very successful television series. And it was great fun;
I had a great time doing that.
FANG: Could you tell me about your role in RISE OF THE
PLANET OF THE APES?
COX: Yeah, I play the keeper of the apes, actually. I’m the
guy who the ape [Caesar] comes to when he’s getting out of hand, and
[formulating] the rebellion from men. It’s a featured role, a good role. The
reason I did it was because my friend, Rupert Wyatt, who I worked with on a
film called THE ESCAPIST, is a wonderful director. He was directing it, and I
said I would be part of it. So it’s really because of that. And it’s going to
be a really interesting movie. And, very technical, lots of motion capture,
CGI. The real stars of that movie are the apes. Andy Serkis and all the guys
who did the apes were really astonishing. It’s quite a technical film. You
know, it’s a film that I enjoy, but it’s not the kind of film I want to be
doing all the time.
FANG: What about THE HOME? That’s a horror film you’re
COX: I don’t think I’m gonna be doing that, because I’m off
to do a TV series in Australia, and then I’m gonna do a film, a much more
modern film back in the UK in September. I was attached to THE HOME at the end
of last year, but then they couldn’t get it together [over difficulties in] in
casting the role of the nurse. And then I had a commitment to do a play
[Broadway’s THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON], so I did the play. When I see myself on
IMDb, I’m kind of horrified. And I chuckle because of all the films I’m
supposed to be doing… [laughs]
can find more exclusive pics and the unrated IRONCLAD trailer here.
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