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Brian Cox defends Bryan Singer’s on-set behavior on ‘X2: X-Men United’

Brian Cox defends Bryan Singer’s on-set behavior on X2: X-Men United: ‘I think he’s an extraordinary director’

“He was under a lot of strain,” the Succession star said of his former director.

Author Maureen Lee Lenker

Lately, Brian Cox seems to have about as much tact as Logan Roy.

In 2020, The Hollywood Reporter published an exposé detailing an alleged toxic work environment on the first X-Men. The main cast reportedly threatened to walk away from the movie over Singer’s behavior. Then, in a 2021 memoir, Alan Cumming, who played Nightcrawler in X2, described a similarly tense environment on set, including the cast staging an intervention for Singer over the director’s use of painkillers.

But Cox, who starred as the film’s non-mutant villain William Stryker and considers X2 the best of the mutant franchise, praised Singer and defended the director’s on-set behavior in a recent interview with Yahoo! Entertainment.

X-MEN 2, Brian Cox, 2003, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

Brian Cox as as William Stryker in ‘X2: X-Men United.’

| Credit: 20th Century Fox/Everett

Cox explained Singer’s behavior, noting that the director was “under a lot of strain” throughout production. “One of his great things was that when he came to a new set, he would have to rethink it,” Cox remembered. “He’d have a thought, and then have to rethink [the scene]. So that was always a difficult transition for him. But once he cracked it, he cracked it very quickly and was able to get on with it.”

The Succession star also revealed that he was Singer’s first choice for the role of Stryker, but that it took some back and forth between the director and the studio. “I think he’s an extraordinary director — really, really gifted,” Cox added “Certainly I will always be grateful to him because he had confidence in me and got me the role. I played a waiting game and it worked.”

The Emmy winner also praised Singer’s use of allegory in the film, as it pertains to the mutants and their sense of otherness. “There’s real allegory in that film, and it serves a lot of purpose,” Cox reflected. “That’s why I love Bryan’s view on it, because he sees it very much as those who are out of the norm as it were. It’s very much an allegory film for him as well.”

Singer came out as bisexual in 2014 and many have drawn parallels between the franchise’s themes of feeling like an outsider and Singer’s sexuality.

Brian Cox attends the UK Premiere of “The Fabelmans” at The Curzon Mayfair on January 18, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Alan Chapman/Dave Benett/WireImage); Director Bryan Singer attends the 25th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Academy Awards Viewing Party at The City of West Hollywood Park on February 26, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Brian Cox and director Bryan Singer

| Credit: David M. Benett/Alan Chapman/Dave Benett/WireImage; Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Cox is just the latest X-Men star to weigh in on Singer’s on-set antics. When asked earlier this year about his experiences making the X-Men films, Hugh Jackman told The Guardian, “This was my first movie in America, you gotta understand; it was all so new to me. I think it’s fair to say that… There are some stories, you know… I think there are some ways of being on set that would not happen now. And I think that things have changed for the better.”

He then spoke more broadly, saying, “There’s way less tolerance for disrespectful, marginalizing, bullying, any oppressive behavior. There’s zero tolerance for it now and people will speak out, and I think that’s great.”

Jennifer Lawrence, who played Mystique in several X-Men films, also called out Singer, albeit in a more offhand manner, while sitting down for a roundtable discussion with multiple actresses in the awards season conversation for THR and addressing the stereotype that women are too emotional in stressful work environments.

“I mean, I’ve worked with Bryan Singer,” she said. “I’ve seen emotional men. I’ve seen the biggest hissy fits thrown on set.”

Singer has been the subject of numerous controversies. In addition to the various reports of his on-set behavior, including Rami Malek saying his experience with the director on Bohemian Rhapsody “was not pleasant,” Singer has faced numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, including multiple claims of sexual assault of minors.

The director has been sued multiple times since 1997, though all lawsuits have either been dropped or settled out of court. Singer has not been arrested or charged with any crimes and the filmmaker has repeatedly denied the allegations.

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