The Toronto Sun just published a new interview with Benedict about his latest film projects! Check it out below:
Benedict Cumberbatch talks The Mauritanian, The Courier and Doctor Strange 2
By Mark Daniell
There’s no point in asking Benedict Cumberbatch about Doctor Strange 2, Spider-Man: No Way Home or really anything to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“I can’t believe, still, that after playing Sherlock (Holmes) and Khan (Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness) and Strange, that people still think I’m going to give insight,” he says laughing down the line from London. “I’m never going to give insight into any of this stuff.”
All he’ll say about his upcoming return as the Master of the Mystic Arts is that he’ll be back.
“Fans can expect a Doctor Strange film with me looking like Doctor Strange.”
After earning acclaim — and legions of fans known as Cumberbitches — thanks to his titular spot on Sherlock a decade ago, Cumberbatch’s career took off at warp speed thanks to parts in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit series, and as the Sorcerer Supreme in the MCU.
But between those, the British-born actor has sought out edgier characters, playing a Cold War British intelligence agent in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the mathematician Alan Turing in 2014’s The Imitation Game and the debauched lead in the black dramedy Patrick Melrose.
There have been other unconventional choices, including turns as political strategist (Brexit: An Uncivil War), Thomas Edison (The Current War), Julian Assange (The Fifth Estate) and a bit part in Sam Mendes’ one-shot war film (1917).
His career continues to elude easy definition with two upcoming fact-based films: The Mauritanian (available now on demand) and The Courier (due out later this spring).
“For me, what’s interesting is doing something novel and something that I haven’t explored before,” he says.
Produced by Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch outfit, The Mauritanian, which earned his co-star Jodie Foster a Golden Globe last month, tells the story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (played by Tahir Rahim), who was wrongly accused of being one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and imprisoned at Guantanamo for nearly 15 years.
Foster plays an Albuquerque attorney named Nancy Hollander who, along with her assistant Teri (Shailene Woodley), seeks to free Slahi, while Cumberbatch steps into the part of Stu Crouch, the Marine lawyer assigned to prosecute him.
“I read an excerpt about (Slahi’s 2015 best-selling memoir Guantanamo Diary) and I got hooked,” Cumberbatch, 44, says.
Elsewhere, in The Courier, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Cumberbatch plays real-life British spy Greville Wynne, whose business interests allowed him to work as an operative for the West during the Cold War.
“He’s an everyman, a normal guy, really, who was flung into this position of incredible, unthinkable responsibility,” Cumberbatch says. “Through a series of very daring actions he helped us, meaning the West, avert nuclear annihilation, basically.”
The British-born Cumberbatch has been acting professionally since 2002, when he started to appear on television in the U.K. But Cumberbatch has always wanted to have a hand in producing the stories that make it in front of audiences.
“I’m enjoying my work as a producer and pulling together stories that need telling,” he says. “I want to bring a variety of entertaining and divergent subjects to the screen that are innovative and new and young and other — in every sense. Too me, that’s as much of a thrill as being in front of a camera.”
In an interview from across the pond, Cumberbatch talked about the genesis of both The Mauritanian and The Courier, keeping things interesting and why he’s unlikely to try eating while skydiving.
There have been a number of documentaries about the mistreatment and torture of Guantanamo detainees. What made you want to tell Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s story?
I remember reading Mohamedou’s book and thinking his experience was extraordinary. It was so important and a story that needed to be told. It’s one of the reasons we set up our (production) company; to tell stories like this … There’s a universality that makes it something more. You could almost take this man’s experience and put it in something else, and it would still be about the same thing: Shining a light on a dark place and coming out of it with love and humanity.
Mohamedou was imprisoned nearly two decades ago and released in October 2016. How do you think his experience will resonate with audiences today?
We’re living through a time where there is a lot of mistrust and polarization, and this is someone who endured years and years of wrongful imprisonment and torture and abominable human rights abuses. Despite the pandemic, it has massive relevance to how we respond to the very worst, and the very best, of what makes us human beings. It’s Mohamedou’s story. But this man is just phenomenal. He managed, through all of that abuse, to maintain love and empathy and understanding. Those are powerful things, and they sometimes come across as just words. But if we actually practised them, we could survive the most unthinkable difficulties. He’s a living testament to that power. It’s quite a thing that he lived through and to come out of that experience with love and faith in humanity, is something that we wanted to spotlight.
Greville Wynne’s story in The Courier is fascinating as well, and one not a lot of people might know about. How did you get on board for that movie?
What another extraordinary story. There he was, a Welsh guy born into a pretty poor family, but he became a salesman, became a little more upwardly mobile and was pretty good at talking himself up a little bit and he married maybe a little above his station. Then, having to maintain that facade, while carrying out something way beyond his training and life experience up to that point was an incredible sacrifice to defend democracy. There was nothing extraordinary about him. He was a very ordinary man and I found that enchanting.
You really can’t tell us anything about Doctor Strange 2?
You know, I don’t want to know what’s going to happen in anything I’m about to see. I know I’m different, and I have nothing against people who want to know these things, but I’m the worst person to ask. Look, I’ve been at premieres talking to press and I won’t say anything. I don’t know what’s embargoed and what isn’t.
You and I first spoke seven years ago. Since then, you’ve been in all sorts of movies — big and small. How have you kept things interesting for yourself?
I like trying new things. For me, in my career, you can draw certain parallels to the characters I play and the people I work with — both are very important to me. But characters like Stu and Greville are ordinary folk. Real people. They are the types of people who are very much in the realms of all our lives. They’re not superheroes, but they are extraordinary individuals, and those personalities stand out because they are regular people doing extraordinary things. That’s exciting for a viewer to watch. It’s thrilling to watch someone take us into a realm that’s not quite one we know, but we get to see them do thrilling things.
All those years ago, I asked you what you wanted to try next, and you said: Comedy and eating while skydiving. Where are you on those?
I’m definitely not eating while skydiving … Wait, did I really say that? I must have been drinking. Well, there’s a lot of comedy in what I do. Strange is a comedic chap and he has some funny moments. He’s definitely got some wit.
But an all-out comedy, sure, I would like to do that. I was in Zoolander 2, which was controversial. If I had been in a Judd Apatow movie, I could say, ‘I did that Judd Apatow movie.’ But I feel like I have done comedies. Really, the two genres I haven’t done are horrors and musicals.
It’s a good thing you called me out. I’ll add those to my bucket list. Maybe I can do a comedy where I eat and skydive. Or a musical horror? Although that might turn into a horrible musical. There might be some scares coming up in the new Doctor Strange film. I don’t think I’m giving too much away in saying that … We’ll talk in another seven years’ time. Hopefully, I’ll have done a comedy-musical-horror by then.
The Mauritanian is available on demand. The Courier will be released later this spring.
Source: Toronto Sun