Benedict Cumberbatch: Meet the 'Star Trek Into Darkness' villain
Fans of the British television series "Sherlock," based on the Sherlock Holmes books, are well aquatinted with the show's star, Benedict Cumberbatch, a tall, British actor with a baritone voice.
However, many moviegoers will get to know Cumberbatch in his role as the mysterious villain John Harrison in "Star Trek Into Darkness," which hit theaters on Friday, May 17.
In addition to his work on "Sherlock," Cumberbatch appeared in the 2007 film "Atonement," the 2011 movie "War Horse" and he has a role in the upcoming film "August: Osage County" with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts due out on November 8. He also has an upcoming role in the film "The Fifth Estate" as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
OTRC.com chatted with Cumberbatch recently about his iPhone audition for "Star Trek Into Darkness," the process of settling on his character's hairstyle, and a wacky interview he had with a reporter who insisted on conducting the interview as an iconic "Star Trek" character.
Check out our interview with Cumberbatch below.
How much fun did you have making this film?
"I mean umpteen. A million times over fun. It was just, it was ... yeah from beginning to end. Actually, at the very beginning it was quite nerve-wracking, to be honest. There was a lot of ... it was very late-minute, my casting, and so I just permanently sort of expected on those first couple of days a little tap on the shoulder and like, 'Sorry, you're out. There's the door, we don't have a return ticket because you are leaving.'"
And your casting ... you auditioned by iPhone?
"I did. Yeah, yeah, God bless the iPhone because everyone else was obeying Christmas over here, which in America it's all, it's all about Thanksgiving. So everyone was on their crackberries [Blackberries] going 'Where the hell is his tape?' I was going, 'There is literally no one I can tape with here in the U.K. They have families and lives and they've gone to have those at Christmas.'"
"And I got my best friend to tape me in his kitchen with my godchildren, his children in the background asleep somewhere, late at night, very, very, very soon after Christmas. His wife held the camera on two chairs balancing it so I could get the right directional light in, not a studio, but a working kitchen, a family kitchen. And yeah, the rest is sort of history, here we are. That's sort of what's up."
I read somewhere that one of the most sort of difficult decisions when you started making this film was how you were going to style your hair.
"[Laughs] You know, when you joke on a press junket you have to be so careful because that will probably haunt me until my dying day. No, of course there were far more pressing issues but look, I mean genuinely I guess the appearance of this character was important. How to make him iconic but not have anything that's intrusive and the real joy of it was actually keeping ... turning around to J.J. [Abrams, the director] and going, 'No, no, no,' to all the weirdness and J.J. was with that and in the end, we wanted something quite near this [points to his face]. We just wanted a man dressed in black and it was about who he was and how he was rather than strangeness and bangs and hairdos and costumes."
This film goes a lot further than the one in 2009, doesn't it? How so and why do you think that was?
"Well, you know, I think ... I mean, Chris [Pine] and Zach [Quinto] can expand further on their character arcs but um without that I think the whole franchise is sort of ... I'm looking over your shoulder at the poster. There's a huge amount of jeopardy in this and a lot of it is earth bound and a lot of it involves relationships and friendships being stretched to the absolute maximum and um, yeah, I think it definitely pushes the boundaries."
"They wanted a villain as well that reflected some sort of shadow self of Kirk and that complexity in the sense that he was home grown, that he's a terrorist but another man's freedom fighter. Somebody who wasn't just an out and out baddie but somebody who had good reason to do what he does, even though what he does is pretty devastating and terrifying and that was a joy, to just tread that fine line and trying to live with that and uh yeah, that was my part in making it different."
"But yeah, it's extraordinary and 3D IMAX. I mean I saw the first film in 2D, as in normal cinema, and I was blown away. Absolutely blown away and brought into the sort of 'Trek'-verse via that more than anything else. And then this just sort of notches it up."
Now, "Star Trek" fans are known for being pretty hardcore.
Craziest "Trek" fan experience you've had so far on this journey?
"Actually, one of your species, as in an interviewer, a Trekkie, who was in full regalia, a lovely Italian gentleman, I'm going to forget his name now, which he'll never forgive me for, but he was in character as Spock for the whole interview and speaking with a very thick Italian accent. That was interesting." (Note: Benedict Cumberbatch may be referring to this.)
"I mean I've yet to do the whole kind of 'Hello 'Trek'-dom! What do you think?' thing because, you know, I'm not a fan of rotten eggs and soft, mushy fruit. 'Cause I'm sure, you know, one man's hero is another man's villain and ... well that doesn't make any sense. What I mean is one man's meat is another man's poison. So, I'm not going to please everybody and they're very vociferous, so I will go boldly, but not boldly. I'll go very tentatively into that sort of terrain."
Check out the trailer for "Star Trek Into Darkness" below.
Reporting by Karl Schmid, correspondent for KABC Television's entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).