‘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
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.