‘Fifth Estate’ star Benedict Cumberbatch wanted to meet Julian Assange

Benedict Cumberbatch, Julian Assange, The Fifth Estate
Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate.”
Credit: Getty Images

It’s no secret that Julian Assange isn’t thrilled about the new film “The Fifth Estate,” in which “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the embattled WikiLeaks founder. The anti-secrecy website even published email correspondence between Assange and Cumberbatch in which the actor sought a meeting with Assange before taking the role — only to be asked not to do the film.

Cumberbatch admits that his correspondence with Assange — who told the Hollywood Foreign Press he thinks “The Fifth Estate” is “destined to be a box office failure” — was brief, and that the gist of Assange’s message was that he didn’t want Cumberbatch to take the role. “It was sort of expected, and his arguments were very strong. And I had some very strong counter-arguments,” Cumberbatch says.

“I would have loved to have met him. I think like any artist: Being in front of a live subject is far more productive and informing than working from a photograph,” Cumberbatch says, a tinge of remorse in his voice. “I sadly didn’t get the chance to do that, but I quite respect his standpoint, and I reasoned in my communication with him that I thought it was not totally well-founded, that I think there was a lot to celebrate in our version of the story because what it does is bring back into focus how important WikiLeaks is as an idea and the integrity of that idea, personal politics aside.”

Cumberbatch decided to press on despite his subject’s disapproval. And portraying Assange has led to the actor having to field questions about government activities, politics and the security industry. ”You do have to become an instant overnight expert, and that can be quite daunting. There’s a lifetime of commitment and knowledge behind these people’s activities,” he admits.

“I am an actor, I’m not a political activist. I’m not a founder of a Web site. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not an expert pundit. I’ve touched on what I’ve needed to grasp to try and manufacture a characterization, and I’m the first person to hold my hand up and say that I’m an amateur in all other classes other than my chosen profession.”

And while the movie itself may be finished, there are of course new developments almost daily connected to WikiLeaks and Assange’s fate. “[Julian and I] are weirdly tied together now a little bit,” Cumberbatch admits. “With Julian and history, it’s a ways down the line as to how we get an objective perspective on this — if ever — because I think that the arguments and the context for the story are just going to keep evolving. I think we’re living through fascinating times.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.