How many times has this happened to you: You’re out with your friends, having a bull session: The bar is dark and bumping, the beer is cold, and you’re probably only marginally paying attention to your friends. One of them remarks, “Hey I totally saw Brian Cox in a car today.”
And in that moment you’re lost. Or you would’ve been, if you hadn’t read this article: The Definitive Brian Cox Guide. Using these context clues, you’ll be able to meaningfully contribute to the discussion and not just stand there like a mouth-breathing idiot. So let’s get started:
If your friends are nerds: The odds are, they mean Brian Cox, physicist and sometimes-keyboard player for the band D:Ream.
This Brian Cox has appeared on several BBC shows about physics including Wonders of the Solar System and then, as a change of pace, Wonders of the Universe. This Brian Cox did not, however, appear on D:Ream’s 1994 number-one hit “Things Can Only Get Better,” joining later. He also has narrowly missed out on becoming a knight when the queen bestowed upon him the honor of being an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. So go easy on this Brian Cox, he’s come up just short a couple of times now.
For what it’s worth, these days he’s working at CERN so it’s increasingly likely we’ll be hearing from his physics background more often than his synthesizer wizardry one. If you’re in the mood, probably one of the best things this Brian Cox has been up to is the BBC Radio 4 comedy/science series The Infinite Monkey Cage, which if you’ve read this far, you’re probably someone who would like it. He’s also one of the more handsome Brian Coxes of the world.
Possible Zinger in Reply: “So you’ve seen one of the Wonders of the Universe in person huh?”
If your friends are jocks: Particularly if they stopped paying attention to football very closely at the end of the 1990s, they are probably referring to the linebacker Bryan Cox. Please note this Bryan is spelled with a “y.”
This Bryan Cox was drafted by the Miami Dolphins back in 1991, and spent much of his career bouncing around the AFC East, at points playing for the Dolphins, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, where Bryan won the Super Bowl. While Bryan Cox was a 3-time Pro Bowler, he is probably most noteworthy for accruing a $10,000 fine for double flipping off Buffalo Bills fans back in ’93, effectively ruining his chances to play for all the teams in the AFC East. It is said that Bryan Cox had such good football instincts he never even considered playing for the Indianapolis Colts when they were in the AFC East, because he knew eventually they would leave the division during realignment.
These days Bryan Cox is back in Miami where he is the “pass rush coach,” whatever that means.
Possible Zinger in Reply: “Did he flip you the bird?”
The de facto Brian Cox: especially for the movie-watching set, is Scottish actor Brian Cox.
He played Uncle Argyle in Braveheart, Dr. Guggenheim in Rushmore, and the villain in a Bourne movie, The Ring, X-Men 2–suffice to say you don’t get to be the de facto Brian Cox unless you’re kind of ubiquitous.
This Brian Cox has aged out of being much of a leading man, but will sometimes still earn a top billing if the movie is as otherwise terrible as the movie Ironclad; a movie that is basically three really long medieval castle battle sequences that are spaced out by a lot of Freudian sword-as-penis scenes. On the plus side, I think at one point Brian Cox beats someone down with a bloody arm he finds lying on the ground, and at the end of the movie he gets catapulted into a wall.
Possible Zinger: “The original Hannibal Lector?”
If you’re a bunch of indie rock lovers: Your friend meant Bradford Cox.