Benedict Cumberbatch Takes on Alan Turing Role in ‘The Imitation Game’

Benedict Cumberbatch takes on Alan Turing role in The Imitation Game

It’s certainly safe to say that Benedict Cumberbatch had a great year in 2013, after pitching in a series of versatile performances for a slew of blockbuster titles, ranging from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug to 12 Years a Slave. Helped by his stellar acting work in the popular BBC drama, Sherlock, Cumberbatch has gone from strength to strength, with his screen presence only strengthened by appearances in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse.

Details regarding another one of Cumberbatch’s projects – currently in the offing – have recently emerged. Black Bear Pictures recently served up the very first image of the actor in Morten Tyldum’s upcoming biographical movie, centering around the illustrious Alan Turing.

Alan Turing
Renowned mathematician and cryptologist Alan Turing.

Turing is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. The British mathematician and cryptologist operated as a code-cracker at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, working to generate sophisticated techniques for breaking German ciphers during World War II. Turing developed the bombe, an electromechanical, cryptanalytic device that was capable of breaking Enigma messages that had been encoded by the Germans.

In The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch will play as Turing, alongside Keira Knightley, who costars as the code-breaker’s coworker and fiancée. Meanwhile, Charles Dance – renowned for his appearances in Game of Thrones, Alien 3 and Last Action Hero – is slated to star as fellow code-breaker Commander Alastair Denniston, who was first head of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS). Mark Strong will also assume the role of Major General Stewart Menzies  – the former Chief of the British Intelligence Service.

Filming took place at a number of key locations from Turing’s life, including his former school, Sherborne, and Bletchley Park.

Turing was convicted of “gross-indecency” after the police were made aware he was involved in homosexual relations in 1952. He was presented with two choices: face imprisonment or chemical castration; Turing chose the latter, but still had his security clearance stripped and faced years of persecution. It is alleged that Turing took his own life at the age of 41.

On Dec. 24, 2013, under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, Turing received a posthumous pardon. Over 37,000 individuals requested his pardon during 2011 through an electronic petition on the Direct Gov website, while a number of high-profile figures called upon British Prime Minister David Cameron to consider the pardon request; this included the revered theoretical physicist and cosmologist Steven Hawking.

Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing on set
Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing, during filming at Church Street in Chesham, England.

In light of the United Kingdom issuing a royal pardon to Turing, the filmmakers released the first official photograph of Cumberbatch’s portrayal of his character stood next to Turing’s bombe machine. The photograph was snapped by Jack English who had also taken images of Cumberbatch on the set of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and was recently uploaded onto Twitter by producer Teddy Schwarzman.

The movie’s synopsis describes Turing’s many significant achievements, along with the controversy surrounding his sexual orientation:

“The pioneer of modern-day computing, Turing is credited with cracking the German Enigma code and the film is a nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team at Britain’s top-secret code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. Turing, whose contributions and genius significantly shortened the war, saving thousands of lives, was the eventual victim of an unenlightened British Establishment, but his work and legacy live on.”

The Imitation Game is currently in post-production, with a release date anticipated in 2014. StudioCanal is slated to distribute the movie in the U.K., whereas the producers are yet to seek U.S. distribution.

Op-Ed James Fenner


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