CS Video: Benedict Cumberbatch on Playing Julian Assange


Ripped from out of recent news headlines, The Fifth Estate, directed by Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Dreamgirls), explores the dubious legacy of Julian Assange, the mysterious figure whose WikiLeaks website exploded onto the media scene in recent years with a different approach to finding news sources.

It’s not necessarily a biopic of Julian Assange’s life as much as a cross-section of the period leading up to WikiLeaks’ biggest achievement when thousands of military documents were leaked by the organization. The movie reveals his close relationship with his business partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), who was shunted aside and out of the spotlight when WikiLeaks broke big.

The Fifth Estate was the opening night of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and Cumberbatch was there representing the film as well as his supporting roles in two other high-profile movies, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (also opening in limited release this Friday) and the ensemble drama August: Osage County. This has clearly been a big year for the British actor where he has gotten a lot more attention and scoring such a key role like that of Assange has moved him to another level as an actor.

In the video interview below, we spoke with the British actor about being so atuned into politics and whether that made it more of a challenge to play Assange. We also discussed how he tried to dig a little deeper into the character in order to honor the man, without taking away from what Assange accomplished with WikiLeaks. He tells us that even if he had met Assange, he wouldn’t have had as much access to him as he would have hoped, although he did receive an Email before the shoot asking Cumberbatch not to do the movie. We also talk how Assange is a bit of loner and socially awkward because he’s so driven by his self-appointed mission. Cumberbatch would still like to meet Assange if given the chance.

The Fifth Estate opens nationwide on Friday, October 18