From Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter to media magnate Logan Roy in HBO's Succession, Brian Cox has made his name as an actor of unparalleled distinction and versatility. We are familiar with him on screen, but few know of his extraordinary life story. Growing up in Dundee, Scotland, Cox lost his father when he was just eight years old and was brought up by his three elder sisters in the aftermath of his mother's nervous breakdowns and ultimate hospitalization. After joining the Dundee Repertory Theatre at the age of 15, you could say the rest is history — but that is to overlook the enormous effort that has gone into the making of the legend we know today.
This volume is simply a delight, so much so that it’s tempting to consume it in one sitting. It’s snarky and cutting in a sometimes take-no-prisoners way as befits a waif brought up poor on the hardscrabble streets of Dundee, Scotland, but almost always funny ... Although Cox begins with his birth and family, he soon eludes chronology in favor of a nimbler narrative that more resembles a late-night monologue delivered at a favorite pub. It is chockablock with sharply etched portraits of all the names in lights ... Cox is not shy about expressing his opinions ... Cox is just as tough on himself—well, almost as tough—as he is on others ... Cox is possessed of something unexpected, something rarely found in the memoirs of entertainers, something that for want of a better word can only be called wisdom ... Mesmerizing.
Brian Cox has produced one of the funniest, most rip-roaring, irreverent and candid showbusiness memoirs this season, full of lively mockery ... Cox has a wonderful eye and ear for the absurd ... Cox’s book is like a transcription of a pub or after-dinner monologue: clever, perceptive, wandering back and forth chronologically ... Cox hops from subject to subject, amplifying themes, picking up where he left off. There are lots of asides and digressions, as in the best talk. 'We touched on it before' is a typical phrase. It is loose, baggy, brilliant.
Putting The Rabbit In The Hat is one of the best showbiz memoirs ever written, but its quality comes at the expense of the feelgood froth that usually fills such books. Cox is as honest here as he is on stage and screen ... The book has a kind of brutal integrity ... Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story, and Cox is highly informative about the craft of his art. But the account of his climb up the theatrical ladder...is the dullest bit of the book ... More entertainingly, Cox constantly carps at other stars ... The book isn’t all agitprop. It’s as funny as it is furious ... Cox quotes advice from the director Lindsay Anderson: ‘Don’t just do something, stand there.’ Brian Cox has done everything, and with this book he leaves everyone else standing.