‘Succession’ star Brian Cox slams Rupert Murdoch’s claim that his media empire is committed to ‘freedom’: ‘Freedom for what? Freedom to manipulate?’



Rupert Murdoch has insisted his eldest son and recently announced successor is “committed to the cause” of pursuing freedom of speech—but Scottish actor Brian Cox, who starred in HBO’s Succession as a tycoon inspired by the outgoing Fox Corp. boss, is unconvinced.

In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, Cox—who played Logan Roy in all four seasons of the hit series—weighed in on the recent moves within Murdoch’s media empire, and lashed out at the notoriously divisive tycoon.

Cox’s Succession character and the fictional battle among his children to replace him at the helm of his kingdom were often interpreted as a satirical take on Murdoch and the ruthless business tactics within his companies that were fueled by family rivalries.

Succession writer Jesse Armstrong confirmed over the summer that the Murdoch dynasty had been the original inspiration for the show.

Comparisons between the Murdochs and the Roys ramped up over the past week, however, after it was announced that Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, would be replacing him later this year as the head of News Corp. and Fox Corp.

Labeling 92-year-old Murdoch “the most tenacious human on God’s earth” on Sunday, Cox speculated that “the workload must be too much now” for the elderly media magnate.

“I think eventually there comes a point when he has to stop … it had to happen and it’s happened,” he said.

However, he took issue with Murdoch’s recent assertion that his sprawling conglomerate—which includes contentious U.S. network Fox News—is committed to press freedom.

“The battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense,” Murdoch said in his resignation letter last week. “My father firmly believed in freedom and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause.”

“Freedom? Freedom for what?” Cox questioned during his conversation with the BBC. “Freedom to impose his ideas on other people, freedom to kind of manipulate certain things in certain directions? I mean, he’s certainly done a lot of that in his life.”

Representatives for Murdoch did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment on Cox’s perspective.

Murdoch empire

Murdoch’s empire encompasses a number of right-leaning news outlets across the globe, including British tabloid newspaper The Sun and America’s Fox News, the latter of which has a reputation for sparking division within American families and faced criticism over some of its coverage of 2021’s deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

When it came to how Murdoch’s legacy would evolve under the reign of his son Lachlan, Cox told the broadcaster he couldn’t offer any insight into whether the incoming boss was a “Kendall, Roman or Connor”—a reference to his Succession character’s fictitious sons—as he tries to “keep out of the whole Murdoch thing.”

“When you play a role, it’s your creation,” he said. “The one thing that there is in common [between Murdoch and Logan Roy] is how little Rupert actually expresses himself and he allows [his actions] to speak for itself.”

Murdoch, who has been married four times, shares six children with three of his former wives. Over the years, there was widespread speculation about which of his four oldest children—James, Lachlan, Elisabeth and Prudence—would take over from him when he eventually ceded his position at the top of the empire he created.

However, Murdoch remained tight-lipped on the subject. The media mogul once said he would “let the chips fall where they will” and, according to Vanity Fair, believed a “Darwinian struggle” between his children would produce the most competent successor.

“I think he’s been watching too much Succession, clearly,” Cox joked in Sunday’s interview.



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