He can handle the trappings of fame, but why Benedict Cumberbatch asks does everyone need to know what’s to come? Here he talks about new film Black Mass and loving Hampstead Heath – but don’t expect him to give away too much
Benedict Cumberbatch sits upright in his chair and offers a playful glower. ‘You know, you guys are like kids who want to eat an entire box of chocolates,’ he chuckles exhaustively, ‘and then feel sick afterwards. There’s no magic or enigma, the way you come after it. If you didn’t ask so many questions, you’d have more to look forward to.’ The barrel-toned actor shifts uncomfortably and scratches behind his ear. ‘Although you wouldn’t be doing your job then.’
Make no mistake, Benedict Cumberbatch is weary of the questions. Mostly the spoiler types; what can we expect in the Sherlock Christmas special? Does he consider himself an Avenger after signing on for Marvel’s Dr Strange? When we last met in a dated suite in Claridges for the War Horse junket, attention was on his rumbled appearance in Star Trek 2. Three years ago and he was equally hostile to the queries.
I don’t understand why the shroud, the veil has to be lifted. This need to spoil everything for everyone.’ He pauses and grins, crinkling the soft lines round those sloping, staring pale eyes. ‘I’m coming across a right grump, aren’t I?’ It’s clear it is a whole new world now.
Three years since that last meeting and he’s transformed from a national treasure to a Hollywood megastar. An Oscar nom for Best Actor will do that to a guy, not to mention starring roles in blockbusters like Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave and The Hobbit.
And the London-born player is still as affable, courteous and genial as before. Though fame still sits uncomfortably. Less so now he’s a family man after marrying theater director Sophie Hunter on the Isle of White this past Valentine’s Day and welcoming their son, Christopher, some four months later.
‘It’s such an odd thing to describe, it’s weird. Indescribable perhaps,’ he considers. ‘I don’t welcome it, but I don’t absolutely loathe it. It depends on the day. There are moments when you’re not having a good day and someone recognizing you is the last thing you want. And then on other days, it doesn’t bother you. It’s a difficult sensation to describe, but ultimately I’m quite a private person.’
It’s a busy time for Benedict. He’s currently at the Barbican with Lyndsey Turner’s Hamlet earning reviews that squeal ‘sublime’ and ‘supreme’. Loyal ‘Cumberbitches’ (a term he’s none too fond of, incidentally) are flying from all over the world to witness his interpretation of the Great Dane.
There are six big screen releases to come including Gulf War drama, The Yellow Birds, motion capture adventure, Jungle Book: Origins, and Marvel blockbuster, Dr Strange. Fans are probably the giddiest for his return as Sherlock in a forthcoming Christmas special which sees Conan Doyle’s sleuth in Victorian London. The details stay firmly close to his chest.
The Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss creation was his breakthrough, anointed the star with hallowed ‘sex symbol’ status. He finds it all so baffling. ‘It’s a bit of fun, isn’t it,’ he says modestly, scrunching his nose, shifting the dimensions of his elongated features. ‘It’s a reflection of the work more than anything. It really is. No-one looked twice at me for how many years when I first started out in my career, so it clearly isn’t just about this,’ he points at his face.
Regally handsome in a navy blazer and faded blue shirt, casually undone at the collar, his next release, Black Mass, is a departure for the actor, who previously stunned as crucified code-breaker, Alan Turing in lauded The Imitation Game. A gritty neon saga, it centers on the criminal career of Irish mob boss, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger and his ‘unholy’ alliance with the FBI.
Benedict is Billy Bulger, Massachusetts state senator whose political career is aided and ultimately hindered by his brother (an effervescent, and unrecognizable, Johnny Depp) and his gangster handlings. As Benedict explains, it’s not so much a Goodfellas identikit as a tale of loyalty and family.
‘It’s this very personal story about Boston and these two brothers, so devoted to each other but heading in two very different directions,’ he explains. ‘A very powerful story that’s really stranger than fiction, it was a wonderful experience on so many levels; working with Scott [Cooper, director], working with Johnny, who’s simply astonishing to observe; working in Boston where we were so welcomed by the communities…’
Navigating the means streets of South Boston are a world from his home turf. He recently moved into a reported £2.7million four story townhouse in North London.
Happily, it’s only a hop skip from his old stomping ground of Hampstead, where he previously owned two stories of a Victorian property minutes from the high street, and his beloved Heath. ‘There’s something enchanting about those acres and acres,’ he wistfully explains. ‘Where a long walk or a swim in the ponds will somehow magic away any stresses or worries. There, gone like that. It’s a wonderful lung. Somewhere I hope to spend many years.’
Previously, Benedict could be spotted nursing the pungent shelves of Giacobazzi’s on Fleet Road or the farmer’s market at the bottom of Parliament Hill – and there are no plans to change his habits. ‘I love the discovery of Hampstead, the secluded laneways and bright doorways and shopfronts on way up Rosslyn Hill,’ he says, pausing and then adding: ‘Ultimately, I’d like to remain in the area, it suits me.’
Exhibition goes behind the scenes of The Imitation Game film
Time is running out for you to see The Imitation Game exhibition at Bletchley Park.
It began following the Oscar-winning film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and you can visit the set to get a rare insight into how the story of genius Codebreaker Alan Turing was brought to life.
In the Ballroom and Billiard Rooms of the Mansion, this atmospheric exhibition is all about the making of The Imitation Game, in the very room where the bar scenes were filmed. This stunning exhibition includes costumes worn by the stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, as Alan Turing and Joan Clarke, and Alex Lawther, who played a young Alan in the film.
Fans can pose for a photograph at the very bar where Alan Turing has a Eureka moment and see a real WW2 German Enigma machine like the one used in the film as well as the replica Bombe machine built specially, which Turing names Christopher, after his first love.
Among the many behind the scenes gems are secret documents and intercepts Benedict Cumberbatch stuffs into his socks and trousers to sneak them off site and a copy of the famous crossword puzzle published in The Telegraph.
The exhibition finishes on November 1.
The Oscar for best adapted screenplay went to Screenwriter Graham Moore and you can hear Graham’s Oscar acceptance speech as well as a behind the scenes interview during filming at Bletchley Park with the Oscar nominated Production Designer Maria Djurkovic and Location Manager David Broder in Episode 36 of the Bletchley Park Podcast, out now.
Just found a pic I took of the wonderful Mr.#benedictcumberbatch taken during a break in filming on the #imitationgame . He’s dressed as #alanturing and reading Turing’s biography. Love him. Top guy and watching him work is like watching an#acting #masterclass . AND he does #gollum impressions to cheer me up when I need it. Dream #dialect client.
When was the last time you wrote someone a letter? Like the kind you send in the post, not an email.
The show spans five nights, with up to nine celebrities reading letters written by historical figures at each two-hour session, taking place at Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, London, from March 31 to April 4.
This event has been happening since 2013, with Benedict Cumberbatch being a regular contributor. Cumberbatch will be in attendance this year, along with Sherlock co-star Louise Brealey, Sally Hawkins, and musician Tom Odell. Letters read will include those written by Virginia Woolf, Gandhi, and Queen Elizabeth II.
Jamie Byng, Canongate publisher, told The Guardian, “To me a joy has been the matching of letters with performers. At the first Letters Live event, Benedict read the Alan Turing letter, and at that time I knew he was going to play him in the film, so it was a nice in-joke.”
Canongate has teamed up with a television company to record the readings, making them available to the public on the event’s website.
Here’s a look at Cumberbatch reading a letter from Turing to Norman Routledge:
Benedict Cumberbatch reads Alan Turing’s 1952 Letter to his friend and fellow mathematician, Norman Routledge for The Times
Full Transcript of the letter:
My dear Norman,
I don’t think I really do know much about jobs, except the one I had during the war, and that certainly did not involve any travelling. I think they do take on conscripts. It certainly involved a good deal of hard thinking, but whether you’d be interested I don’t know. Philip Hall was in the same racket and on the whole, I should say, he didn’t care for it. However I am not at present in a state in which I am able to concentrate well, for reasons explained in the next paragraph.
I’ve now got myself into the kind of trouble that I have always considered to be quite a possibility for me, though I have usually rated it at about 10:1 against. I shall shortly be pleading guilty to a charge of sexual offences with a young man. The story of how it all came to be found out is a long and fascinating one, which I shall have to make into a short story one day, but haven’t the time to tell you now. No doubt I shall emerge from it all a different man, but quite who I’ve not found out.
Glad you enjoyed broadcast. Jefferson certainly was rather disappointing though. I’m afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future.
Turing believes machines think
Turing lies with men
Therefore machines do not think
Yours in distress,
After a long awards season, the 2015 Academy Awards finally arrived! While the night was filled with sure things and guarantees, there were still enough surprises and heart-felt speeches to make it a fun evening for everyone, and to remind us why the Oscars is the most prestigious awards show.
Benedict Cumberbatch Is Amazing All The Time
He just is. He’s funny, he’s game for anything, and he’s an amazing actor. He needs to star in more things. All the things!
Graham Moore’s Inspirational Acceptance Speech
When Moore, the writer of The Imitation Game, won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, he gave one of the most inspirational speeches ever. “I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here,” Moore said. “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.”
Read full article here…