Brian Cox Turned Down Game of Thrones and ‘Pirates’ Over Johnny Depp

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Brian Cox already has one hit HBO drama series under his belt with “Succession,” but he could’ve had an even bigger one had he accepted an offer to star in “Game of Thrones.” As revealed in his new memoir “Putting the Rabbit in the Hat” (via Esquire), Cox turned down the role of King Robert Baratheon on the first season of the HBO fantasy series. Fellow U.K. actor Mark Addy was cast in the role.

“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, who apparently died when he was gored by a boar in the first season,” Cox writes in the memoir. “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.”

“Why? Well, ‘Game of Thrones’ went on to be a huge success and everybody involved earned an absolute fortune, of course,” Cox continued. “But when it was originally offered the money was not all that great, shall we say say. Plus 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. So I passed on it, and Mark Addy was gored by the boar instead.”

Cox also revealed “I turned my nose up at the part of the Governor in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean franchise,’ a role that was eventually played by Jonathan Pryce.” A role in Disney’s “Pirates” movies would’ve given Cox his second franchise after starring as William Stryker in “X2: X-Men United.”

“The guy who directed ‘Pirates’ was Gore Verbinski, with whom I made ‘The Ring,’ and he’s a lovely chap but I think I blotted my copybook by turning down the Governor,” Cox writes. “It would have been a money-spinner, but of all the parts in that film it was the most thankless, plus I would have ended up doing it for film after film and missed out on all the other nice things I’ve done.”

“Another thing with ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ is that it’s very much the ‘Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow’ show, and Depp, personable though I’m sure he is, is so overblown, so overrated,” Cox adds. “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. But people love him. Or they did love him. They don’t love him so much these days, of course.”

Cox’s memoir “Putting the Rabbit in the Hat” debuts January 18. Head over to Esquire’s website to read an excerpt in its entirety.

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