Benedict Cumberbatch Wants Julian Assange to Know 'The Fifth Estate' Won't Be That Bad
Sep 30, 2013 13:26
Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate received widespread acclaim. But he failed to impress a particularly important critic: Assange himself.
"I tried to justify my reasons for doing the project," Cumberbatch, 37, told press at a Toronto International Film Festival roundtable earlier this month. "It mattered to me a lot that he felt so passionately, but I wanted to persuade him that it wasn't necessarily going to be as bad as he feared it would be."
Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in 'The Fifth Estate.'
An older draft of The Fifth Estate script had leaked to 42-year old Assange, who described it as "a mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks, the organization and the character of my staff." (The film is partly based on the tell-all book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website by former spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg, with whom Assange famously clashed.)
But Director Bill Condon, 57, rejected Assange's assessment outright.
"It's in no way an attack on WikiLeaks," he said. "It's a celebration of WikiLeaks and what it set out to do. It is occasionally critical of Assange, and one of his tactics is to kind of conflate the two ideas so that anything that might be critical of him becomes, as he says, 'a propaganda attack.'"
WikiLeaks isn't backing down, instead the website recently posted a "mature version" of The Fifth Estate script, along with a memo that condemns the film as "irresponsible, counterproductive and harmful."
WikiLeaks' Julian Assange.
Assange also criticized Cumberbatch's portrayal, specifically calling out the British actor's Australian accent.
"We're all used to foreign actors trying to do Australian accents, and it's so grating on the ear," he said in a video interview. "When you hear someone trying to do — a Brit trying to do an Australian accent and your own accent, I can't tell you how grating it is."
For his part, Cumberbatch reportedly had issues with Condon's direction for The Fifth Estate.
"On a lot of the stage direction, we collided paths because Bill did seem to be setting him up as this antisocial megalomanic," he told Vogue for its September issue.
“It was important to me to portray him as a three-dimensional human being, and not get into a slagging match about whether he was good or bad," Cumberbatch said. “The kind of perception of him in a tabloid sense is very two-dimensional."
The Fifth Estate is expected to hit theaters mid-October. Check out its trailer below:
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