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This HBO Star Just Slammed Johnny Depp & Other Major Celebs in New Book

Succession actor Brian Cox doesn't hold back in his new memoir.

Talk about not holding back. In his new memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, Brian Cox criticizes a long list of fellow actors, from Johnny Depp to Michael Caine. Cox currently stars on the HBO series Succession, playing ruthless media mogul Logan Roy, but is also an acclaimed theater actor and has appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies, including Braveheart, Frasier, Adaptation, Zodiac, and many more. So, the 75-year-old star has worked with a wide variety of actors and directors over the years, which definitely comes across in the new book, though he also comments on people he hasn't worked with.

Putting the Rabbit in the Hat is an autobiography that looks back on Cox's life, from his tumultuous childhood in Scotland to becoming a successful actor. But, amid his life story, Cox also gives plenty of commentary on others in the industry and doesn't pull any punches. Read on to see what he has to say.

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On Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp at the premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: DeadMen Tell No Tales" in May 2017
Tinseltown /

The U.K.'s The Big Issue published quotes from Cox's book, which was released in the U.K. this week and will hit U.S. shelves on Jan. 18.

Of Depp, Cox writes, "Personable though I'm sure he is, is so overblown, so overrated. 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." Cox has not worked with Depp and turned down a role in Pirates of the Caribbean, according to The Big Issue.

On Edward Norton

Edward Norton at the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis in July 2018
Featureflash Photo Agency /

Cox also comments on an actor he has worked with, Edward Norton. The two starred in the 2002 Spike Lee film 25th Hour. "He's a nice lad but a bit of a pain in the a*** because he fancies himself as a writer-director," the actor writes.

On Michael Caine

Michael Caine at the Venice Film Festival in September 2017
Andrea Raffin /

As for Caine, he gets a backhanded compliment from Cox. "I wouldn't describe Michael as my favorite," the actor writes, "but he's Michael Caine. An institution. And being an institution will always beat having range."

Other stars who Cox has less than complimentary words for include Steven Seagal ("as ludicrous in real life as he appears on screen"), David Bowie ("not a particularly good actor"), and Quentin Tarantino (he walked out of Pulp Fiction, but would work with the director if asked), among others.

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Cox did have nice things to say about some stars.

Morgan Freeman at the AFI Honors Denzel Washington in June 2019
Kathy Hutchins /

Cox is kind about some of his fellow performers. He calls Thérèse Raquin co-star Alan Rickman "one of the sweetest, kindest, nicest and most incredibly smart men I've ever met." Of Morgan Freeman, who he worked with on 1996's Chain Reaction, he writes, "I'm pleased to say that although he was cold and pissed off and watching bedlam reign around him, Morgan Freeman remained an absolute gentleman. Being the very epitome of Morgan Freeman. The Morgan Freeman you would hope to meet. The Morgan Freeman you encounter in your dreams."

According to the Los Angeles Times, he also praises Scarlett Johansson—they both had roles in Match Point and Her—writing that she is "divine, funny, smart, wonderful." And regarding 25th Hour director Lee, Cox says he is "simply one of the best directors," adding, "His knowledge of cinema is second to none. What's more, I've never known a director to be so diplomatic."

He knows some people will be upset by the book.

Brian Fox at the premiere of "Succession" in New York City in May 2018
lev radin /

Cox knows that not all of his comments will go over well. He told The Big Issue, "I'm expecting probably never to hear from some people again. But that's the way it goes."

Cox also commented on the book as a whole in a recent interview with The Scotsman. "I think if you're going to do something like that you really have to tell the truth," he explained of his outlook when it came to writing his memoir. "Shoot the devil. It was cathartic, necessary. It was important for me because I've reached a certain age and I wanted to look at certain things in the light of one's experience and be as truthful as I could be."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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