In a surprising move, British actor and heartthrob for anglophiles everywhere, Benedict Cumberbatch has taken the plunge into the social media network, Reddit. Among the Netflix crowd and those with a passion for British drama, Cumberbatch is adored for his roll of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s updated working of the mythology, Sherlock. Cumberbatch is also the voice of Smaug in Peter Jackson’s new trilogy of films based on J.R.R Tolkein’s novel The Hobbit. The next film, The Desolation of Smaug, opens December 13.
But, Cumberbatch didn’t drop by to promote either of those films, instead he was there to promote The Fifth Estate, which opens October 18. The film is the complex story surrounding the case of Bradley Manning, a U.S soldier convicted under the Espionage Act of exposing classified information. Manning’s defenders state the soldier is a whistle-blower who provided a massive amount of information to expose war crimes by the United States Military, among other things. Trailers for the film, though, indicate that the story is less preoccupied with Manning than it is with Julian Assange. Assange is considered the driving force behind WikiLeaks, a kind of information clearing house for classified documents and news leaks. WikiLeaks, living in the wild west of the internet, is considered at the forefront of citizen journalism, providing an outlet to whistle-blowers afraid of exposure and those sleuthing for the truth.
Cumberbatch plays the role of Assange, a controversial figure in world politics. The real Assange is none to pleased with Cumberbatch’s involvement and as an intrepid Reddit commenter, nam546, asked Cumberbatch how he felt in light of the fact that Assange has referred to the British actor as a “hired gun.” To which Cumberbatch responded thoughtfully. Aside to being attracted to the role because it allowed him to play against type, Cumberbatch wrote, “to have the man you are about to portray ask you intelligently and politely not to do it gave me real cause for concern, however, it galvanized me into addressing why I was doing this movie.” Cumberbatch added, “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.” Cumberbatch, who believes in a “healthy democracy” and the need for citizens and groups to question authoritarian power structures, thinks the film isn’t a piece of propaganda with the intent to smear Assange, rather it is an illustration of a difficult question–what does freedom of the press mean in the internet age?
There are those that may question if this was Cumberbatch or a fan desperate for attention. Well, aside from including a new promotional video for the movie, Cummberbatch included a picture (see above), proving, that it was, in fact, him interacting in a Reddit discussion.
Written By David Arroyo