Brian Cox’s Lord Of The Rings Role Can Make Up For The Fantasy Hit He Turned Down


  • Brian Cox’s confirmed casting in The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim provides an exciting new addition to the franchise and redeems a missed fantasy opportunity.
  • The animated movie takes place before the main Lord of the Rings timeline and will feature many fantastical elements, shedding light on an important character in the lore.
  • Cox’s role as Helm Hammerhand, a legendary king of Rohan, will allow him to showcase his aptitude for playing strong leaders and become a major part of the Lord of the Rings canon.

Brian Cox’s confirmed casting in the 2024 animated movie The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim not only provides the franchise with an exciting new addition but helps the actor redeem a major missed fantasy opportunity. As one of the world’s most experienced and diverse performers, Brian Cox has an impressively eclectic resumé. However, while he has ventured into fantasy territory with hits like The Water Horse, Cox has generally eschewed the genre for more grounded projects. Although joining The Lord of the Rings will fix this, the trend could have been reversed earlier had he joined another fantasy universe.

Unlike modern entries Lord of the Rings series, The War of the Rohirrim is an animated retelling of a story from Middle Earth’s past. The movie takes place 261 years before the main The Fellowship of the Ring timeline, but long after Amazon’s The Rings of Power. Despite being animated, the movie will feature many of the fantastical elements that make the Lord of the Rings universe so celebrated. Beyond this, however, the film can also make up for an earlier Cox misstep in the fantasy genre.

The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim is set for release in December 2024

Brian Cox Is Playing The Lead Role In The Lord Of The Rings: The War Of The Rohirrim

For Brian Cox fans, what makes The War of the Rohirrim so exciting is the confirmation that the 77-year-old will be playing a leading, rather than supporting role. Alongside Miranda Otto (who returns as Éowyn to provide narration), Cox will play Helm Hammerhand – a legendary king of Rohan. Despite not physically appearing in the main Lord of the Rings movies, Hammerhand does feature more subtly – giving his name to the great fortress of Helm’s Deep. It is also Helm Hammerhand’s horn that Gimli uses to muster the Rohirrim for one last ride before Gandalf and Éomer arrive to relieve the siege.

Given its status as a prequel, The War of the Rohirrim can shed some much-needed light on an important character in Lord of the Rings folklore. Given Cox’s pedigree as an actor and aptitude for playing strong leaders like Logan Roy and William Stryker, the evidence suggests that his Hammerhand will be a steely, authoritative presence at the heart of the movie. It is known that the film will focus on a Dunlending attack on Rohan and perhaps on the foundation of Helm’s Deep itself. With his character playing a pivotal role in such a key event, Cox will inevitably become a major part of The Lord of the Rings‘ canon.


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The Actor’s Lord Of The Rings Role Makes Up For Him Turning Down Game Of Thrones

Brian Cox as Logan Roy in Succession, looking dubious. and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones looking emotional

A leading role in a popular and beloved fantasy series is something that has hitherto been missing from Brian Cox’s career. However, things could have been very different if the Dundee-born actor had accepted an offer to play Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones. As the actor explained in his memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat (via Entertainment Weekly):

“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. 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.”

Considering the global success of Game of Thrones, not accepting the role seems like a major misstep – both for Cox personally and for fans of the actor’s work. While Mark Addy came to embody the disaffected monarch, Cox could have added even more depth to a character defined by his misanthropy and disillusionment with the pressures of power. By taking a similar role in War of the Rohirrim, Cox can not only provide a window into what his Robert Baratheon may have been like, but also enjoy the experience of playing an important king in a landmark fantasy series.


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Why Brian Cox Turned Down Game Of Thrones

Brian Cox in front of a blue background holding glasses

As an early prospective Game of Thrones actor, Brian Cox was involved with the show before it became stratospherically popular. However, while there are many reasons actors might turn down particular projects, Cox’s rationale was surprisingly prosaic. As he explained in his book:

“…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. 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.”

With hindsight, establishing himself as a key part of one of the early 21st century’s defining fantasy stories may have been worth an unimpressive pay-packet. Nevertheless, Cox’s refusal has had the unintended consequence of making his War of the Rohirrim role even more exciting. Considering the involvement of legendary British thespians in both The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, Cox’s absence to this point has felt like a major omission – both from the actor himself and the franchises.