The actor compares the formidable, potty-mouthed patriarch Logan Roy to a boxer: "He's got the old muscle memory."

At the end of Succession season 2, Jeremy Strong's media company executive Kendall Roy plunged a knife deep into the back of his father, Brian Cox's foul-mouthed business magnate Logan Roy, publicly accusing him of covering up an array of corporate misdeeds.

So is Logan on the canvas at the start of the Emmy-winning HBO series' third season? Maybe. But, according to Cox, maybe not for long. "He's confused and conflicted and knows he's got to sort it out," says the actor, whose many other credits include the films Manhunter and Braveheart. "But he's like a boxer. He's got the old muscle memory. It comes to the fore. He's been down this road a few times in his life — not quite in the same way with his own children, but it's certainly come about."

Cox continues, "You're seeing alliances that are going to happen or not happen throughout the series, and he's ready for them. He's just waiting there, ready for them: 'Come on, throw your best punch at me!' It's pretty amazing."

Below, Cox talks about his memorable mask at the recent Succession New York premiere and his surprise at the show's popularity. Oh, and he tells EW to "f--- off!"

Brian Cox
'Succession' star Brian Cox
| Credit: Arturo Holmes/WireImage

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You attended a big event for the season 3 premiere last night. How did that go?

BRIAN COX: Well, it was really amazing. I mean, I don't get blown away very often, but just [having] this show finally coming out and all the work we'd done [after] it all being in embryo — I mean, there's a lot more to see. [Laughs] I remember when I was filming the first episode I thought, "I've actually got quite a small part. I don't do very much in the first episode." And then I saw it and thought, "Jesus Christ!" I had forgotten completely.

You wore this fantastic face mask emblazoned with the messages "#Team Logan Roy" and "F*CK OFF." Whose idea was that?

That was my manager. He had these masks [made] up. In fact, he sent a whole bunch to London for the London premiere, so they're going to get double bubble for that. It was a very clever idea! [Laughs]

Brian Cox in 'Succession'
| Credit: David M. Russell/HBO

Are you surprised Succession has become such a beloved show?

I think people at heart understand satire. They get it and our show lets people in — in a way straight dramas don't, because straight dramas come at you face-on. Our show, because of the laughter, because of the shocking elements, because I shout occasionally to keep people awake [laughs] — which is my technique — they go, "Oh, yeah, this is great." [But] the show has caught on in a way I think is beyond all our imaginations. It's astonishing, absolutely astonishing. What's so powerful about it is that it's funny because it's ridiculous. I mean, somebody asked me once, would I ever think of playing Donald Trump? I said, "Well, of course not, it's such a terrible script! There's absolutely no nuance in it whatsoever." But our show, there's a lot of nuance.

We're out of time but, before we end this, could you please tell me to "f--- off!"?

Yes, I will gladly tell you to f--- off.

That sounded more heartfelt than I wanted it to be.

Well, you see, you get what you ask for! People think I can just say "f--- off!" without meaning it. What you don't realize about the "f--- off" is, it's a wonderful thing to say, because it's sometimes true. So f--- off!

Succession season 3 premieres Oct. 17 on HBO. Watch the trailer for it above.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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