‘Game of Thrones’: Brian Cox Turned Down Robert Baratheon Role in Season 1 Because It Didn’t Pay Enough

On Succession, Brian Cox’s Logan Roy rules his business empire like a king. But the actor could have played a king of a different sort in another hit HBO series. In his new memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, Cox revealed he turned down the role of Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones Season 1. 

Brian Cox almost played Robert Baratheon in ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1 

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In his upcoming book, which hits stores in the U.S. on Jan. 18, the actor opens up about his career in Hollywood and his childhood in Scotland. He also shares his candid opinions on actors such as Johnny Depp (“so overblown, so overrated”) and directors such as Spike Lee (“a consummate cineaste”).

It was a role in Lee’s 25th Hour, which was written by Games of Thrones’ writer and showrunner David Benioff, that led to Cox being offered a role in the epic fantasy series.  

“I’m often asked if I was offered a role in Game of Thrones – reason being that every other bugger was – and the answer is, yes, I was supposed to be a king called Robert Baratheon, who apparently died when he was gored by a boar in the first season,” he wrote (via GQ). “I know very little about Game of Thrones so I can’t tell you whether or not he was an important character, and I’m not going to google it just in case he was, because I turned it down.”

The HBO series didn’t pay enough, the ‘Succession’ star said 

Brian Cox, wearing a black jacket and shirt and standing in front of a sign for HBO's Succession
Brian Cox | Arturo Holmes/WireImage

For Cox, the decision to say no to Game of Thrones came down to money. The salary he was offered wasn’t impressive. Plus, he knew the character wasn’t going to survive, so there was no chance of a pay raise later on. 

Game of Thrones went on to be a huge success and everybody involved earned an absolute fortune, of course. But when it was originally offered the money was not all that great, shall we say,” he wrote. “Plus I was going to be killed off fairly early on, so I wouldn’t have had any of the benefits of the long-term effects of a successful series where your wages go up with each passing season. So I passed on it, and Mark Addy was gored by the boar instead. (I lied. I did google it.)” 

Brian Cox wasn’t the only actor who turned down ‘Game of Thrones’ 

Cox isn’t the only actor who turned down a role in Game of Thrones. 

Jennifer Ehle was cast as Catelyn Stark, but she ended up exiting the show after shooting the notorious pilot. Ehle, who’d recently given birth, decided committing to the series would mean too much time away from her family. Michelle Fairley replaced her. 

Ehle wasn’t the only actor who pointed to family obligations when explaining their decision not to do the show. Both Dominic West and Gillian Anderson said they turned down parts in Game of Thrones because they didn’t want to be away from their children. Neither revealed what character they’d been asked to play, though fans speculate West might have been cast as Mance Rayder and Anderson as Cersei Lannister. 

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