‘Succession’ Star Slams Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Truly Terrible’ Performance As Napoleon: ‘I Would Have Played It A Lot Better’

Brian Cox
Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images

“Succession” actor Brian Cox had some words of criticism for Joaquin Phoenix, saying he would have done a better job as the lead in Ridley Scott’s historical drama “Napoleon.”

The 77-year-old actor called Phoenix’s performance “terrible” at London’s HistFest, per The Standard.

“A truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix,” Cox said. “It really is appalling. I don’t know what he was thinking. I think it’s totally his fault and I don’t think Ridley Scott helps him. I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that. You can say it’s good drama. No — it’s lies.”

He added, “I think he’s well-named. Joaquin … wackeen … wacky. It’s a sort of wacky performance.”

The “Succession” star also lamented historical inaccuracies present in films more generally. “’Braveheart’ is a load of nonsense,” the actor said of the 1995 film starring Mel Gibson, which Cox also appeared in. “Mel Gibson was wonderful but it’s a load of lies. He never impregnated the French princess. It is a bollocks [sic] that film.”

Scott previously responded harshly to French critics trashing his film.

“Like all history, it’s been reported. Napoleon dies, then, 10 years later, someone writes a book. Then someone takes that book and writes another book and so, 400 years later there’s a lot of imagination [in history books],” Scott told The Times in November 2023, as The Daily Wire previously reported.

“When I have issues with historians, I ask: ‘Excuse me, mate, were you there? No? Well, shut the f*** up then,’” he added.


“Napoleon” has grossed $221 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics. The film was  praised for having realistic battle sequences and performances, but was criticized for the narrative’s historical inaccuracies.

It was nominated for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Visual Effects at the 96th Academy Awards.

Scott said he was torn between Phoenix and another unnamed actor to play the main role, but was “blown away” by Phoenix’s performance in “Joker” (2019) and ultimately decided that Phoenix would be an “amazing asset” for the film. 

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘Succession’ Star Slams Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Truly Terrible’ Performance As Napoleon: ‘I Would Have Played It A Lot Better’