brian cox game of thrones

If you are a slightly older actor from the United Kingdom capable of growing a fine beard and wearing a convincing scowl, there is a strong chance you have appeared on HBO’s Game of Thrones at some point. And if you haven’t appeared on Game of Thrones, it may be your fault for turning it down in the early days, before it was a gigantic hit that would put you in front of an audience of millions and millions of rabid fans who obsess over every episode.

Every so often, one of the actors who turned the show down speaks up, offering a glimpse at what could have been. Today, that slightly older actor from the United Kingdom capable of growing a fine beard and wearing a convincing scowl who turned down the show in its infancy is the great Brian Cox.

In an interview with Vodzilla, Cox revealed that he was offered a role early in the show’s run, but declined the part when the budget-strapped production couldn’t meet his usual quote. Now that the show is big enough to afford big-name guest stars (and now that Cox has actually become addicted to the show himself), he regrets this decision:

Well, stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn’t pay enough money. Now they have more money. And I was silly. I was silly, it was silly, because I’m a complete addict now. But I don’t know what I could play. Maybe I could do – I mean, I just watched my friend Ian McShane, and I thought, ‘Ooh, Ian’s in it’, so I settled down to watch him. And I thought, ‘Ian did that?’ and immediately I thought, ‘God, they must have paid him well’, because I know Ian!

Cox also notes that he’s had to watch friends like Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister), Clive Russell (“Blackfish” Tully) and Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) appear on the show and have “a great time in it.” Because he doesn’t specifically mention what role he turned down, this is the point where I’d start to blindly speculate about who Cox could have played on the show, but as a slightly older actor from the United Kingdom capable of growing a fine beard and wearing a convincing scowl, there are literally dozens of characters he could have played.

Cox would have been right at home in the Game of Thrones ensemble, especially since he’s no stranger to great television. He played a key character in a few episodes of the the recently cancelled Penny Dreadful and will be forever immortal as a member of the Deadwood ensemble. In any case, he can take comfort in knowing that he’s far from the only actor to turn down a trip to Westeros – Ray Stevenson admitted to me last year that he also declined a role in the show’s early years.

Game of Thrones is about to begin shooting its seventh season, so let’s spend the next ten months speculating and guessing who Cox could have played in an alternate timeline.

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