Book excerpt: “Putting the Rabbit In the Hat” by Brian Cox

Book excerpt: “Putting the Rabbit In the Hat” by Brian Cox

In his memoir “Putting the Rabbit In the Hat” (Grand Central), Emmy Award-successful “Succession” star Brian Cox writes of noteworthy collaborations from his nearly-6-decade stage, movie and television job, including with a specific action film star on the established of “The Glimmer Guy.”

Go through the prologue from “Placing the Rabbit In the Hat” underneath.

Grand Central

In 1996, I located myself seated subsequent to the actor Nigel Hawthorne on a plane, and we received conversing about our respective get the job done.

“I as soon as did a movie with Sylvester Stallone,” he moaned at a single point, apropos of just what, I will not don’t forget.

“Oh, that is almost nothing,” I informed him, playing my ace. “I can defeat that. I have just finished a movie with Steven Seagal.”

“Oh,” mentioned Hawthorne. “Truly? What was that like? Do convey to.”

“Very well …”

Steven Seagal, I told Nigel, is as ludicrous in authentic life as he seems on display. He radiates a researched serenity, as although he is on a increased aircraft to the relaxation of us, and whilst he is unquestionably on a distinct aircraft, no doubt about that, it’s probably not a higher one particular. Seagal suffers from that Donald Trump syndrome of thinking himself much extra capable and proficient than he really is, seemingly oblivious to the actuality that an army of people today are aiding to prop up his delusion.

Seagal would in no way do off-strains for other people. Off-strains are when you do a scene and the camera’s on your character, when the other actor stands there to present you with your feeds. It is a little bit uninteresting for the one off-digicam but most actors, the ones who aren’t Steven Seagal, will do it since it is aspect of the occupation. But on The Glimmer Male, the director, a lovely male named John Grey, took me to one particular aspect and claimed, “The continuity human being will be carrying out your off-traces, I’m worried. Steven is not going to do them. Steven won’t do off-strains.”

“That’s a reduction,” I stated, “it would only be a distraction.”

Just one specific working day when Seagal was demonstrating a woman all-around the set he stopped by where by I sat with the script in my hand. “You see,” he purred serenely at the lady, “this is how a great actor operates.”

“No, Steven,” I sighed. “I’m just finding out my strains, that is all.”

The up coming detail I realized, he materialized, mysteriously eager as mustard to do his off-strains for me. But Steven isn’t going to do off-traces, I considered. Baffled, I glanced throughout to see John Gray shrugging, and I questioned if Steven’s attendance experienced just about anything to do with the female he’d been escorting all-around the set. Could it be a coincidence that she stood not much away?

Action. We started the scene, but the difficulty was that Steven didn’t know his lines. He stored fluffing them. “Steven, it truly is extremely pleasant of you to do this,” I mentioned at previous, “but it is really not necessary. Why really don’t you go back to your trailer?”

Luckily, Seagal agreed that his absence would make our hearts improve fonder, and there were audible sighs of aid as he still left us to it.

And that was what I told Nigel Hawthorne about my encounter of working with Steven Seagal.

“Nicely, I won’t be able to do that type of point any more,” he shuddered, “I can not participate in that form of action film kind section.”

“I don’t feel that way,” I explained to him. “To me, the nature of the actor’s lifetime is that we do the occupation, we do the best we can and transfer on.” I added that I’d just go through a e-book by Michael Powell, A Everyday living in Films: An Autobiography, about how he and Emeric Pressburger became the pre-eminent filmmakers of their generation. In the ebook, Powell states anything together the lines of, “In motion pictures, there are no huge areas or small elements. There are only prolonged pieces and quick components.” He usually means that no subject what the element, it can be as huge or as compact, as slight or as impactful as the movie or actor will allow.

It was a piece of knowledge that experienced caught with me, and as another person who experienced determined their future lay as a supporting actor, it lit the way for me from that moment on. It freed me, in point. It removed moi from the equation and permitted me to disregard the measurement of the position, the star wattage of my co-performers, even, to a particular extent, the top quality of the film I was in, and focus solely on what I was able to lead to my character and what my character could add to the movie. Actor, character, textual content. Which is all it is.

No doubt my words and phrases fell on deaf ears, because even although Hawthorne experienced place Demolition Man powering him and long gone on to make The Madness of King George as properly as a brace of very well-acquired Shakespeare diversifications, he was nevertheless fixated on that Stallone expertise. That, way too, is a characteristic common to the actor, that feeling of deep-seated insecurity. All actors experience from it. We are all desperately insecure.

All of us, that is, apart from Steven Seagal.

Excerpted from the e-book “Placing the Rabbit In the Hat: A Memoir.” Copyright © 2021 by Brian Cox. Reprinted with authorization of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

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