The October issue of Total Film magazine features a new interview with Benedict about The Courier! Please check the scan out below:
Here’s a transcription for those who may need it:
THE COURIER | Benedict Cumberbatch plays a real-life secret agent in amateur-espionage thriller.
Like 99.9 per cent of the buildings in London, Hornsey Town Hall has recently been converted into flats (£774,950 for a two-bed, if you’re interested). But in November 2018, the Grade II-listed modernist structure provided the perfect backdrop for Cold War story The Courier. “We did an awful lot there,” smiles director Dominic Cooke during a catch-up almost two years later. “It stood in for bits of London, bits of Moscow… we wrung every bit of juice out of that building that we could!”
Though not a space designed for filming – down a corridor no wider than an armchair, Teasers carefully tiptoes between bunched cables while admiring the original Art Deco light fittings – today Hornsey Town Hall is home to one of the world’s biggest film stars: Benedict Cumberbatch. In The Courier, he plays Greville Wynne – the real-life British businessman recruited by MI6 to transport information from Soviet double agent Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) to London at the height of the Cold War.
“As a genre I find spy movies a bit cold,” admits Cooke. Instead the Hollow Crown director, who made his feature debut with 2017’s On Chesil Beach, was drawn to the warmth of Tom O’Connor’s script. “It’s a hybrid between a spy movie and a platonic love story,” explains Cooke of the forged-in-fire bond between Wynne and Penkovsky. “The film it reminded me of was Brief Encounter. They knew they were doing something very important together, so they were fuelled by the danger and secrecy.”
Also starring The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Rachel Brosnahan as CIA spook Emily Donovan and Jessie Buckley as Wynne’s wife Sheila – who didn’t know a thing about her husband’s unusual side hustle – the key piece of casting for Cooke was Soviet war-hero-turned-defector Penkovsky. “I really wanted a genuine Russian-speaking actor for the role, so [the producers] reluctantly allowed me to go off to Moscow,” Cooke recalls. “Merab actually came in for another part, but he was so good I said, ‘Look at Penkovsky.’ These days, you need authenticity.”
In a new article posted by Tatler Hong Kong, Benedict Cumberbatch talks about his upcoming movie The Courier (aka Ironbark), his partnership with Jaeger-LeCoultre and what he’s been up to while on quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Benedict Cumberbatch On His Upcoming Movie “The Courier” And Life During Covid-19
From the moment he donned his deerstalker as the great Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch’s popularity soared, but his ego didn’t. The actor talks about his forthcoming spy drama and how he’s spending lockdown learning the banjo.
By Annie Darling.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the alarmingly awkward Sherlock Holmes has catapulted his career to unimaginable heights. Before donning the detective’s hat in 2010, the distinctive-looking London native landed several quirky acting jobs. He’s played theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Van Gogh and, lest we forget, the hair-raising paedophile in Atonement (2007). But it was his fast-talking performance as the private investigator, which Steven Spielberg has called “the best Sherlock Holmes on screen”, that transformed Cumberbatch into a high-cheek-boned dreamboat, quite literally overnight.
Now 43, Cumberbatch has proven to be the ultimate chameleon, having played everyone from Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate (2013). His portrayal of British mathematician Alan Turing, who cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma military code during the Second World War, earned him Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. This year, the performer stars in true-life drama The Courier, which is set for an August 28 theatrical release. *
According to Box Office Mojo (via HSX.com) The Courier (aka Ironbark) has got a new release date in the US. Previously scheduled to hit the big screen by the end of August, the movie now has been pushed back and is set to be released on October 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The August issue of Entertainment Weekly features a nice little interview with Benedict on The Courier (formerly known as Ironbark) and his newest hero. Check it out below:
If you think you know the only type of hero the Doctor Strange star can play, think again: The Courier introduces a new kind of Cumberbatchian leading man.
By James Hibberd
From detective Sherlock Holmes to code breaker Alan Turing to Marvel’s wizard Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch became a global star over the past decade by playing a rather particular brand of hero: the charming, mad-brilliant rogue whose abilities almost outweigh his arrogance. But for his latest role, in the historical drama The Courier, the 44-year-old goes entirely against type by tackling the true story of Greville Wynne, an average businessman who’s talked into helping the CIA and MI6 infiltrate Soviet intelligence during the Cold War. “I’ve played a few troubled geniuses in my time, and what impressed me about Wynne’s story was how this quiet Everyman became a hero,” the actor says. “I couldn’t believe this man who had no knowledge, no understanding, no connection to [the espionage] world was suddenly thrown into the midst of it.
[We] see how somebody ordinary becomes extraordinary.”
Portraying Wynne’s journey arc required Cumberbatch to gain weight to play the out-of-shape character, and then dramatically slim down for scenes that transpire later in the film. “Being a naturally thinner frame, I can
boast about it being easier to take it off than to put it on, which doesn’t make me many friends,” Cumberbatch quips. Next for the actor is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which was pushed back to a March 2022 release date due to the pandemic delaying production. (“I’m really excited to throw the cloak back on,” is all he’ll share.) For now, he has a bit of advice to those seeking a hero inside themselves: “The quest to do something outside your comfort zone—to go into that cave, go into that forest, immerse yourself in a new world—that’s not just a personal journey. You come back with something better.”
MY HERO“New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern [who has garnered acclaim for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic].
She would never characterize herself as a hero, but she’s led with clarity and strength, and great humanity and humor. A lot of male leaders could take a leaf from her book.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, ‘Ironbark’ will now be released under the title of ‘The Courier’ in the US, with the studio expecting it to hit theaters across the country on August, 28th. Read more details below:
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have set an Aug. 28, 2020, theatrical release for The Courier, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Cold War drama — previously titled Ironbark — made its debut at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Directed by Dominic Cooke from a script by Tim O’Connor, The Courier is based on the true story of Greville Wynne (Cumberbatch), an unassuming businessman recruited to help end the Cuban Missile Crisis who forms a dangerous relationship with a Soviet intelligence officer (Merab Ninidze).
“Theaters have indicated gradual openings this summer, with health and safety guiding the way. If everything proceeds favorably, we feel the true spy thriller The Courier, with a must-see performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, is just the type of film that will have audiences excited to return to their local cinemas in late August,” said Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff in announcing the release date.
The film is a 42 M&P, SunnyMarch and FilmNation Entertainment production. Rachel Brosnahan and Jessie Buckley also star in the film.
Hopefully we might get a trailer soon!
Ironbark has just had its premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and we’ve already got some first impressions from audience members and official reviews!
But, before we get to them, we must share this message Benedict recorded for the event and that was shown right before the movie:
He says (hopefully, this is correct!):
Hello! I’m extremely sorry not to be with you, not least because I like snowboarding and great films and probably everybody at that town at the moment and I’ve always wanted to go to Sundance, in all seriousness. It’s the bassinet of great films and a fantastic festival and a inspiring one for the film culture in general. I really wish I was there just as an audience member. But not least in this instance because I have a film I’m in and have helped produce that is premiering in Sundance.
So, I really hope you enjoy Ironbark. Know that my thoughts are with you. I’m at the other side of the world shooting The Power of the Dog with Jane Campion in New Zealand. That’s a pretty good excuse, not that I need one because I’d be there in a heartbeat for the reasons I mentioned.
Many thanks to everyone involved in making the film, to Ben Pugh and Adam Ackland, to Ben and Glen at FilmNation and, of course, our fearless leader Dominic Cooke. I hope you enjoy the film.
Godspeed and see you next year, maybe! Bye, bye!
In an interview published today, FilmNation’s President of Production, Ben Browning, talked with Deadline Hollywood about the company’s Sundance Festival lineup, incluing Ironbark.
Check out bellow what he said about Benedict’s physical transformation for the role of Greville Wynne. Oh, and the new behind-the-scenes image from the film!
Deadline: I think some people were expecting to see Ironbark at an autumn festival last year…
Browning: We haven’t submitted it to any other festival. There was a blip in terms of its production schedule, which not everyone knows. There’s a section of the film where Benedict Cumberbatch goes through a significant body transformation and that shoot actually happened three-and-a-half months later. That affected the production schedule. We were aspiring for this to be a classical drama like The Imitation Game and The King’s Speech. Getting that exactly right and knowing where to debut it was really important to us. It’s true that the film’s language isn’t necessarily what people might think of as a Sundance movie but it felt to us that this launch would give the film the space to announce itself as something quite different.
Deadline: How much weight did Benedict lose? [We hear it was at least 30-35 pounds]
Browning: I can’t recall exactly but it’s one of those great thespian transformations. You feel it and when you watch the movie with an audience you feel their response to it. I think it conveys very effectively, in simple images, what this guy went through. Benedict’s commitment is immense. He really went for it.
Click here to read the entire interview on Deadline.
Ironbark will have its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival tonight at 6.30pm MT, but Benedict’s not expected to attend it, according to the event’s own website. Nonetheless, we’ll keep you updated on any news and first reactions of the movie that may come out tonight.
Entertainment Weekly published an article on Ironbark today, featuring an exclusive new official still and some comments from Benedict on the movie, which he described as “a story of a very average hero”. Take a look:
On his character, Greville Wynne, he said:
He was just a charming Welshman with the gift of the gab. […] He literally goes from being a rather charming businessman heading towards retirement, with a good sense of humor and a jolly manner, to being someone who is basically secreting Minox film cartridges about his case as he tos-and-fros to Moscow under the guise of being part of a British delegation of trade […] It’s a window into a world that’s not that far from our own, sadly, now, again, as far as how things heat up so quickly in politics and on the global stage. […] I think we forget how close we came to not existing anymore.
He also said that mastering his “sort of strange Welsh accent” which is “kind of upper-class, and not quite upper-class enough” was a challenge and so was having to lose a significant amount of weight in three months for just four scenes. He’s not complaining though:
It’s nothing compared to what [Wynne] went through. That’s the thing with these kinds of roles. People go, ‘Whoa, you did that?’ [But] you’re humbled by the reality, which is very far from what you have to do as an actor. And that helps you get there. That gives you all the motivation you need, frankly.”
He also expressed how thrilled he was to work with director Dominic Cooke again:
He’s very much an actor’s director, as well as a brilliant stager. I love his sensibility, and his take on character and relationship is key.
And told the magazine what he sees as the film’s ultimate message:
It is possible for us to be ordinary people that are capable of doing extraordinary things when the time comes, when the questions are asked […] I think that’s what it is — it’s quiet heroics in a very loud world.
You can read the full article on Entertainment Weekly’s website.
We’ve got a date!
Ironbark will make its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Friday, 24 January, at the Eccles Theater at 6.30 pm MT!
We’ve also got the film’s very first official still, official synopsis and run time (111 minutes):
Businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) and prim but warm housewife Sheila (Jessie Buckley) lead a properly quiet English life. When rumblings of a mole in the Soviet Union government reach British intelligence agent Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) and CIA official Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan), Greville is called upon by his country precisely for his ordinariness. He is thrown into the political conflict, and as his efforts to end the Cuban Missile Crisis deepen, he forges an unbreakable bond with his informant that will be put to the ultimate test. Pressured by Sheila’s suspicion of his secrecy and as the Soviets close in on the plot, Greville proves himself not to be ordinary at all.
Sundance Institute creative advisor Dominic Cooke directs this unflinchingly suspenseful political drama based on a true story. Cumberbatch and Buckley develop a pure and completely charming connection that adds a rosy hue to this dark portrait of the risks of espionage. Ironbark explores diplomacy, patriotism, virtue, and bravery, but above all else, Greville Wynne reminds us of the simple humanity at the center of every conflict.
It was announced earlier today the official line-up for the next year’s edition of the Sundance Festival and, to our incredible joy, ‘Ironbark’ is one of the movies to have its first world premiere there. Variety reported the line-up with only the official synopsis so it’s still unknown the exact day that the premiere will take place or which of the cast/crew members will be in attendance, but we’ll keep an eye on the updates that are about to come. Read the official synopsis below:
Ironbark (U.K. – Director: Dominic Cooke, Screenwriter: Tom O’Connor, Producers: Adam Ackland, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken) — The true story of a British businessman unwittingly recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Forming an unlikely partnership with a Soviet officer hoping to prevent a nuclear confrontation, the two men work together to provide the crucial intelligence used to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley.
The Sundance Festival will take place in Utah, USA and will run through 23rd January to 2nd February, 2020.