Scottish actor Brian Cox has been married to Nicole Ansari for nearly two decades and they have two sons together. Like her husband, Ansari has had a successful career in front of the camera. The German native began her acting career when she was still in high school.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ansari Was Inspired to Become an Actress After Watching Casablanca
Ansari knew from the time she was 5 that she wanted to be an actress. She explained to Hamptons.com that she was inspired after watching Casablanca for the first time:
[I] said to my mom, “When I grow up, I want to do what she [Ingrid Bergman] does!” Whether it was the adventure, the incandescent beauty, or the fact that she got Rick! Around the same time, I got to play the fire in Rumpelstiltskin at my sister’s kindergarten performance and my fate was sealed. I never questioned it and feel blessed that I have always known and followed my bliss.
According to her profile on IMDB, Ansari grew up in the city of Cologne in western Germany. She started acting as a child and earned her first break as a high school student. She had a guest role in a German series called Tatort in 1986, when she was about 17. (According to her profile on Crew United, Ansari was born in 1969).
In more recent years, Ansari’s resume has included roles in American shows alongside her husband. She and Cox both appeared on Deadwood in 2006. In 2013, the couple starred in a comedy about the life of playwright Harold Blumenthal. Cox and Ansari also worked together on the upcoming movie Lawrence: After Arabia, which was scheduled for release in 2021. See a compilation of her work here.
2. The Couple Eloped in Las Vegas & Renewed Their Vows at a Scottish Castle in 2006
Ansari first met Cox in 1990, when she was 21 and he was 44. Cox was playing the title role in King Lear at the time. Ansari explained to the Scottish newspaper The Herald that she and Cox were introduced when the play was running in Hamburg, Germany. “I met Brian at a party and there was just an instant connection – It was like meeting a soulmate. He understood me. We were just talking, talking, talking.” Ansari added that she saw the play eight times.
But despite that instant connection, it would be eight more years before romance bloomed. Cox and Ansari began dating in 1998 and she moved in with him in London the following year. But the relationship hit a rough patch as Ansari struggled to find work as an actress in London. She told The Herald that in 2001, when Cox was shooting a movie in Texas, she flew to the United States to talk to him about breaking up. “I had been working since I was 12 years old. I had to make a decision whether I wanted to live like that – as the wife of a famous actor, the wifey basically.”
But instead of ending the relationship, Ansari explained, she and Cox decided to get married instead. They eloped in Las Vegas three days later. They renewed their vows in 2006 with a celebration at Birkhill Castle in Scotland.
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Throwback Thursday! Brian and I for the renewal of the vows in 2006 at Birkhill Castle in Scotland 🏴. We married in Las Vegas at the Little white chapel in 2001. I designed this dress myself, with Peacock 🦚 feathers down the back as a trail and one in my hair. I didn’t realize that in Scotland Peacock feathers are considered bad luck. Well- we survived Vegas, we survived the Peacock feathers and with some luck we will survive this Pandemic too. #tbt #throwbackthursday #design #dress #scotland #birkhillcastle #thekingdomoffife #renewalofvows #briancox #actorslife #actors #thespians
In April 2020, Ansari shared a throwback photo from the renewal ceremony. Cox wore a traditional Scottish kilt and Ansari donned a gown she had designed herself. She wrote on Instagram, “Throwback Thursday! Brian and I for the renewal of the vows in 2006 at Birkhill Castle in Scotland 🏴. We married in Las Vegas at the Little white chapel in 2001. I designed this dress myself, with Peacock 🦚 feathers down the back as a trail and one in my hair. I didn’t realize that in Scotland Peacock feathers are considered bad luck. Well- we survived Vegas, we survived the Peacock feathers and with some luck we will survive this Pandemic too.”
3. Ansari Preferred New York Over Los Angeles
When they first got married, Ansari and Cox split their time between Los Angeles and London. They bought a home in Sherman Oaks in 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But work ultimately brought them back to New York City in 2007, when Ansari and Cox were performing together in the theater show Rock N’ Roll. According to Ansari’s bio on Crew United, she started playing the role of Lenka in 2005 when the show was in London. The couple moved with the show when it opened on Broadway in 2007.
Ansari and Cox initially rented a townhouse in the West Village, the New York Times reported. But when the play closed, Ansari pushed to stay on the east coast, where their two young sons had grown comfortable. Ansari told the newspaper in 2014, “I loved New York. I studied here. I was happy to be back and Brian was happy to oblige, though he didn’t love it as much as I do.” The family moved into a high-rise rental building with a doorman in downtown Brooklyn in 2011.
Ansari and Cox also own a home in upstate New York. Columbia County records list Cox as the owner of two properties, located next door to each other, in Hillsdale, a town located about 115 miles north of Manhattan. The couple bought the two properties within a few months of each other in 2016, for $210,000 and $310,000.
4. Ansari Trained as a Yoga Teacher After Her Two Sons Were Born
In addition to acting, Ansari practices and teaches yoga. According to her profile on Crawford Talents, Ansaru is an “internationally certified Kundalini Yoga teacher and Yoga Therapist.” The profile also noted that Ansari is skilled at dancing the tango and can also pole dance.
Ansari explained to Hamptons.com that she became more interested in yoga when her sons were young:
There was a moment of truth when we were living in L.A. where I had to ask myself if I wanted to continue the struggle of being an actor with all the pressure that it entails. I trained as a yoga teacher and decided I could transition and teach yoga and meditation, a lifelong passion of mine. As soon as I had decided that, I got the offer to do Deadwood and do the show on the West End, and so it continued. I am extremely blessed to have been able to be with my boys and witness their growth into the handsome teenagers they are now and work as an actor at the same time.
Cox and Ansari’s two sons are now teenagers. Orson was born in January 2002 and Torin arrived in 2004. Ansari told the Hamptons website that she and Cox sent their children to the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a performing arts high school in Astoria, Queens.
5. Ansari & Cox Worked Together on a Play in London Just Before the Coronavirus Lockdowns Began
Ansari and Cox worked together on a theater production just before the coronavirus pandemic triggered lockdowns. Ansari starred in the play Sinners—The English Professor at The Playground Theatre in London, according to Playbill. Cox served as the director.
Cox believes he contracted COVID-19 while working on this play. People reported that while working on the play in London in December, Cox felt more tired than normal and was sneezing a lot. It wasn’t until months later Cox learned he had antibodies associated with the virus in his system. Cox explained during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden in August, “I’m a diabetic, and I went for my usual bloods that I usually have between months… They took my blood, and they took the COVID test. Then my doctor called me and said, ‘Oh, congratulations. You’ve had it.'”
As for life under lockdown, Cox remarked during an interview with TV host Lorraine Kelly that he and Ansari handled stay-at-home orders well. “I have actually enjoyed this lockdown. Me and my wife have thrived on it as we’ve managed to catch up on several series.”
Cox and Ansari caught up on their favorite shows at their home in Hillsdale, New York. Cox praised his wife during an interview with the BBC show HARDtalk in April for how she had to manage everything during the lockdown. “As I’m a diabetic I’ve not been engaging in anything. My wife has done wonders, she’s been fantastic. She’s been doing the shopping and is very meticulous about using gloves, masks and bacterial wipes. Cox added, “I just sit here like some kind of sacred cow. We have our two boys with us and they’re beginning to get cabin fever. I’m not too bad, I’m quite good at being reclusive.”