With Julian Assange and WikiLeaks waging a war against the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring The Fifth Estate, the actor used his Reddit AMA today to combat Assange's charges against the film, in between igniting fan girl and boy fantasies of course.
Earlier this week, WikiLeaks—in addition to releasing The Fifth Estate script with their annotations—released a letter Assange wrote to Cumberbatch in January after Cumberbatch tried to initiate a dialogue while researching the role. "You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it," Assange wrote. "To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth. Not because you want to, of course you don't, but because, in the end, you are a jobbing actor who gets paid to follow the script, no matter how debauched."
When asked about the letter on Reddit and whether it affected how he portrayed the activist or made him second guess his work on the film, Cumberbatch explained that it "galvanized me into addressing why I was doing this movie." He continued:
He accuses me of being a "hired gun" as if I am an easily bought cypher for right wing propaganda. Not only do I NOT operate in a moral vacuum but this was not a pay day for me at all. I've worked far less hard for more financial reward. This project was important to me because of the integrity I wanted to bring to provocative difficult but ultimately timely and a truly important figure of our modern times. The idea of making a movie about someone who so far removed from my likeness or situation who brought about an ideal through personal sacrifice that has changed the way we view both social media, the power of the individual to have a voice in that space, and be able to question both the hypocrisies and wrongdoings of organizations and bodies of powerful people that rule our lives... This resonated deeply with my beliefs in civil liberty, a healthy democracy, and the human rights of both communities and individuals to question those in authority. I believe that the film, quite clearly, illuminates the great successes of wikileaks and its extraordinary founder Julians Assange.
WikiLeaks has tried to make it seem as if Cumberbatch was unhappy with the way he portrayed Assange in the film, cherry picking quotes from various interviews, including one in The Guardian which said that "when Cumberbatch first read the script, he worried that it cast Assange as some kind of cartoon baddie." But Cumberbatch clearly stands by the film and his performance, writing that he "wanted to create a three dimensional portrait of a man far more maligned in the tabloid press than he is in our film to remind people that he is not just the weird, white haired Australian dude wanted in Sweden, hiding in an embassy behind Harrods" and that he is "proud to be involved in tackling such a contentious character and script." The film received tepid reviews at the Toronto Film Festival, though Cumberbatch's performance was lauded.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the Reddit AMA, Cumberbatch was far more lighthearted. When asked whether he and fellow British nerd heartthrobs Matt Smith (the most recent Doctor on Doctor Who) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki in The Avengers) "have cheek bone polishing parties" he responded cheekily: "We like nothing better than buffing our Zygoma. And imagining a horny time traveling long overcoat purple scarf wearing super sleuth nordic legend f--k fantasy. Get to work on that, internet." We're sure the Internet has, Benedict. We're sure.