Brian Cox unloads on Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Napoleon’ performance: ‘Truly terrible’

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Never one to mince words, “Succession” star Brian Cox recently let loose his inner Logan Roy to eviscerate Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in “Napoleon.”

Speaking at HistFest in the United Kingdom, “the dynamic history events company that produces innovative digital and live content to global audiences – from lectures, film screenings and seminars, to courses, short films, podcasts, and live performances,” Cox participated in a conversation about history on stage and screen. It was within that context that “Napoleon” was mentioned, the 2023 Ridley Scott film about the life of the French ruler.

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“Terrible. It’s terrible. A truly terrible performance by Joaquin Phoenix. It really is appalling. I don’t know what he was thinking,” Cox said, as reported by The Standard. “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.”

Cox continued, next focusing on Phoenix himself. “I think he’s well-named. Joaquin… whackeen… whacky. It’s a sort of whacky performance,” he said.

“Napoleon” was a huge swing for Apple Original Films and Scott, but it failed to connect with audiences and awards voters. Overall, “Napoleon” landed three Oscar nominations – Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects – but won zero awards. At the box office, where Sony handled distribution, “Napoleon” earned $221 million worldwide. There was talk about a four-hour cut of the film coming to the streaming platform Apple TV+, but Apple never confirmed its release and there has been no further information about its future availability. Phoenix and Scott previously worked together on “Gladiator,” which landed Phoenix his first-ever Oscar nomination. The actor later won Best Actor in 2020 for his role in “Joker.” (A sequel to “Joker” is out in October.)

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