Category: Scans

Benedict talks “The Courier” with Total Film magazine

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:

GENTLEMAN SPY

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.”

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Benedict talks “The Courier” with Entertainment Weekly

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:

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

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.”