HIS craggy, intense face has been seen on television, stage, and a string of Hollywood blockbusters. Now Brian Cox, the Scottish actor, has had his robust image added to the walls of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. At an emotional ceremony yesterday, the 60-year-old, a man adept at working with words, seemed lost for them as the colourful image - an enhanced photograph on canvas - was unveiled. Cox, who lives in London but works mainly in the US , appeared overwhelmed as he celebrated the portrait and said he was glad to be back in Scotland, which he called "God's own country".
He also re-iterated his desire to work for the National Theatre of Scotland which he said had been amazing so far, and particularly praised its debut production, Home, and its artistic director, Vicky Featherstone.
"I think what the National Theatre has done is magnificent.
"I was so proud of the way they launched it, the way they did it by opening up in different venues all across the country, it proved the (NTS) was inclusive and not just a Glasgow/Edinburgh thing," he said.
"I think it's exciting what Vicky (Featherstone) is doing, just like what James (Holloway, director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery) is doing here at this gallery."
Cox has long been linked to performing with the NTS, and yesterday he again said that if the right part and time arrived he would perform in a production for the new national theatre. "If the right chance arises I will do it. "I would be very happy to do that one day.
"Unfortunately if you do perform in theatre you have to subsidise it with other work, with films," he said.
The unveiling of the portrait, by Glasgow-based artist Iain Clark, capped a memorable weekend for the actor, he had spent time in and around Dundee celebrating not only his sixth decade but also renewed his marriage vows with his wife, Nicole Ansari.
Cox and his wife staged the ceremony at Birkhill Castle, near Cupar in Fife. At the unveiling of his portrait, many friends and family were present which leant a celebratory air to the event not often seen in the halls of the portrait gallery.
Of the portrait, he said: "I saw an earlier version of this, I couldn't quite see what (the artist) was doing - this in its final form it is extraordinary: the detail is amazing and I am astonished by it.
"My sister pointed out something which has really struck me. I have blue eyes but the portrait has brown eyes, and they really are my father's black Irish eyes. It is my face with my father's eyes."
Clark said he tried to capture "the soul" of the actor, one who has had a "late bloom" to his creative life.
Cox added: "Being part of the National Portrait Gallery is really too much for me to take in.
"I suppose one emotion is that you never realise how much people respect you and your work.
"It hasn't sunk in yet and I think it will take me a while. I feel humble.
"I love coming back to Scotland . We had a great weekend celebrating my birthday in Fife, looking down on Dundee , and it was one of those long summer evenings I think that are unique to Scotland. It's God's own country."
Mr Holloway said: "This is a great occasion for us, honouring one of the great Scots of our time. He has had a fantastic, stellar career, a star of stage, television and screen. "He has been in Scotland celebrating his 60th birthday with his family but today he enters a greater family - those Scots who are represented at the national portrait gallery."