Monday 4 February 2013

I won’t be typecast as yet another English actor playing the Hollywood movie villain

Says Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch
Star Trek baddie boldly goes where Brits have gone before ... Benedict Cumberbatch
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH is about to wreak terror and destruction on planet Earth – and he might just upset a few die-hard Trekkies while he is at it.
The Sherlock star plays the arch villain in the upcoming film Star Trek Into Darkness. But asked what the sci-fi series meant to him as a lad, Benedict boldly goes where no man has gone before...
“Not a huge deal,” he admits, with a frankness that will devastate Star Trek devotees.
“I watched it and I knew of it and I’ve seen pretty much every generation of it and I’ve seen some of the films, but I have never been an obsessed fan.
“When I was growing up, I saw Buck Rogers as well as Star Trek on telly, and then film wise I guess it was Star Wars, really.”
Benedict Cumberbatch
Menacing ... Benedict Cumberbatch is out to wreck Starfleet from within in Star Trek Into Darkness

He adds: “I’ve never had that longing to be in the club, even a football club actually. I guess it’s something to do with being an only child.
“I was very gregarious but, I think, I never obsessed with anything, I just sort of bought the T-shirt.”
It also took some persuasion from director JJ Abrams, a co-creator of US TV series Lost, to get Benedict onboard Star Trek Into Darkness, his second adventure on the Starship Enterprise.
The 36-year-old Londoner, whose twisted Star Trek character threatens Starfleet from within, feared being typecast as yet another British villain in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Benedict says: “I am very aware of the English transition of an actor being from a different culture coming over and they are being like, ‘God, this guy does theatre and c***. We’d better give him the bad guy role and a cape and just make him be really horrible’.”
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
Super sleuth ... Benedict Cumberbatch with Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman

But Abrams, whose first Star Trek film in 2009 made £240million at the box office, convinced Benedict that there was far more to this role than just being a baddie with a clipped English accent.
Benedict continues: “It was the pitch that JJ gave me, a couple of scenes to audition with and he fleshed out the whole world of the rest of the script, and there’s a purpose and intention to his otherwise violent and pretty distressing actions that made it really intriguing.
“And I thought, ‘Well, OK, there’s a purpose to this man’.”
He pauses, then adds with a grin: “The costumes look great. Some of them were very cumbersome and heavy, but some were very snug. You can almost see what religion I am.”
Star Trek Into Darkness, which is out on May 17, is sure to be Benedict’s biggest box office boost so far.
And although Trekkies may balk at his honest appraisal of his interest in the films and TV shows, no one can fail to be impressed by his undeniable ability as an actor.
This year he is especially in demand.
Benedict Cumberbatch in War Horse
Oscar winning ... Benedict Cumberbatch in War Horse

As well as Star Trek, Benedict will be co-starring with Brad Pitt in Twelve Years A Slave, with Meryl Streep in August: Osage County, voicing the computer generated dragon in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug and portraying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate.
Benedict’s fame is soaring, as he discovered for himself on a recent visit to Tokyo.
He smiles as he recalls: “I was mobbed at the airport in Japan, which was not my usual sort of thing. It’s not what I expect when I arrive at the airport.
“It was amazing. Lots of fans turned out when we were recording in Tokyo. Yeah, none of that is normal, is it? It’s fantastic.
“I think it was because there were a few people who were interested to talk to me about everything to do with my life at the moment, and to let me know that I’m very big on the internet, which I have sort of got wind of.”
There is a tornado of online fascination with Benedict. Several Twitter pages have been set up in his honour, including one by female fans calling themselves the Cumberb******, and he also has a large following on Facebook.
Benedict showed his acting brilliance early on, earning a Bafta nomination as Stephen Hawking in the 2004 TV drama Hawking.
He went on to star in the 2011 movie remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the Oscar-winning War Horse.
Benedict Cumberbatch
Movie remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ... Benedict Cumberbatch

Yet his parents, both actors, initially tried to dissuade him from following in their footsteps. His mother Wanda Ventham, 77, appeared in the sci-fi series UFO, Only Fools And Horses and The Saint, while his father Timothy Carlton, 73, has starred in Executive Stress, Don’t Wait Up, Heartbeat and Downton Abbey. They both tried to warn Benedict the profession was very unpredictable in terms of income.
He says: “They just saw the pitfalls of it every day. You don’t know where your next job is coming from and it’s unstable, into which they were having a child — me — and you want stability for your children.
“You want something better. And everything that was bad about it for them, they wanted me to be free of for me.
“But I just kept on doing it, kept on doing it, at school and university. Eventually my dad said, when I played Salieri in Amadeus, ‘You are better than I was or ever will be. You will have a really good time doing this for a living.’ And I cried. And from that moment I thought, ‘OK, if I’ve got his blessing, I’m going to do it’.”
Before studying drama at Manchester University, Benedict spent some time at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Darjeeling in India.
Through an organisation called GAP, he taught English to the monks.
He reveals: “I could actually stay with monks in their home and watch them at work and at prayer, and get the chance to teach them and interact with them.”
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Fifth Estate
Portraying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange .... Benedict Cumberbatch in The Fifth Estate

The experience of being around Buddhist monks also taught him a lot, especially about how to focus when he is in character.
He says: “Meditating and all that, being able to be still and focus, I did that.
“There’s an ability to focus and have a real sort of purity of purpose and attention and not be too distracted. And to feel very alive to your environment, to know what you are part of, to understand what is going on in your peripheral vision and behind you, as well of what is in front of you. That definitely came from that.”
That cool, calm, collectedness comes out when he is playing Sherlock Holmes.
His 21st century version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous fictional detective is able to mentally process several small clues at the same time. Work starts on new episodes of the BBC hit next month.
Benedict is clearly as fascinated by the much loved sleuth as fans of the series are — especially by his dark side.
He says: “Sherlock is an anti-hero. He’s a lot of complicated things, morally ambiguous.
“He’s sided with the angels but I don’t think he’s one of them.”

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