Benedict Cumberbatch’s AMA on reddit Oct 11 2013
Benedict: Hello reddit. My film The Fifth Estate opens 10/18.
A: What is your favorite childhood memory? If you were stranded on a desert island with the basic essentials, what additional 3 things would you want to have and why?
Benedict: Hello! My favorite childhood memory is the blue sky above my parents flat.
If I were on a desert island I would love to have a scuba diving kit. My family. And my partner of the moment – whomever I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
If it’s not people that am allowed. Additional equipment would be a kindle with a never ending memory of books. And a survival handbook.
A: Mr Cumberbatch, you so rarely get to do comedy these days, and you were hilarious in Starter for 10! It seems from interviews and such that you and Simon Pegg got on well while filming Star Trek. As Mr Pegg has a tendency to cast his friends in his work, is there any chance we might one day get to see you in a future Pegg comedy film?
Benedict: That is a question for Simon, obviously. I love my comedy and when the right project comes up I won’t shy away from it. There’s a lot of humor in what I do, specifically Sherlock, but it would be great to play a „normal guy“ in a „normal comedy“.
A: Benedict, You must get asked many of the same questions over and over, but I’d like to know — what’s a question you WISH someone would ask? Something that matters to you about which you’d love to speak candidly? (And of course, what’s the answer to that question?) Also, thank you for sharing your immense talent and for doing this AMA. You are both well-respected and well-loved, and it’s deserved from what I can tell.
Benedict: Well thank you very much, first of all. I often feel in interviews people should ask about the culture and people that I engage with as an audience rather than the same bio or personal life details. Rough with the very, very smooth, these are high class problems. The best interviews evolve like conversation. They’re not lead by journalists that are seeking to thrill their editor with predictable copy and questions that are basically answers. Sadly, that’s the norm. But there are exceptions which sometimes make it worthwhile.
A: Mr. Cumberbatch, If you make an appearance on Sesame Street, which Muppet would you like to share a scene with? Thank you
Comment: But Animal isn’t a member of the Sesame Street cast!!
Benedict: Forgive me. Oscar the grouch.
A: Hi Benedict, I’m a big fan – thanks for doing this AMA. I really enjoyed your portrayal of Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. My question is that you’ve often portrayed some very famous literary characters, ie Sherlock Holmes, Victor Frankenstein, Smaug The Dragon, but if you could choose to be any other literary character in an upcoming role who would it be and why?
Benedict: Patrick Melrose in Edward St. Aubyn.
A: What are you currently reading for leisure, and what is your favorite novel of all time?
Also, if you could play any stage role, be it opera, musicals, or plays, who would it be?
Thanks so much for doing an AMA, and I’m so excited for Smaug’s appearance in a few months!
Benedict: See answer to fictional character I’d like to play. I have short term ambitions.
A: There are millions of reasons as to why I watch Sherlock and your perfect comedic timing is most definitely one of them!
Benedict: Thank you. I learned from the master, Martin Freematn.
A: Do you, Matt Smith, and Tom Hiddleton have cheek bone polishing parties?
Benedict: We like nothing better than buffing our Zygoma. And imagining a horny time traveling long overcoat purple scarf wearing super sleuth nordic legend fuck fantasy. Get to work on that, internet.
Comment: http://i.imgur.com/EVqYopB.jpg I realise this will disappoint a lot of you sorry :c
Benedict: Phenomenal. Why does Matt have the hammer? Sure it’s the wrong household tool? Shouldn’t it be a sonic toothbrush with a screwdriver on the end of it? And what’s Simon Pegg doing staring at my abundant locks? And where’s his right hand?
A: Is fame different from how you imagined it would be?
Benedict: You can’t imagine fame. You can only ever see it from an outsider and comment on it with the rueful wisdom of a non participant. When it happens to you, it doesn’t matter what age or how, it is a very steep learning curve. The important thing to realize in all of it is that life is short, to protect the ones you love, and not expose yourself to too much abuse or narcissistic reflection gazing and move on. If fame affords me the type of ability to do the kind of work I’m being offered, who am I to complain about the downsides. It’s all relative. And this are obviously very high class problems. The way privacy becomes an every shrinking island is inevitable but also manageable and it doesn’t necessary have to get that way…
A: Quick. What’s in your pocket right now
A: How are you typing?
Benedict: With my left foot.
A: If I make a brand of pants called „CumberBritches“ will you endorse them?
Benedict: Only if you get me a billboard slot in Times Square.
A: Benedict, do you bother with Halloween? If so, what will you be this year? If not… Disregard
Benedict: The invisible man. Oh, how I love to disappear.
A: Hi Ben, what are a few of your favorite comfort movies that are nostalgic to you and you never tire of?
Benedict: Ghostbusters. Loads of John Hughes classics. Annie Hall. annnnnd 2001 Space Odyssey!!
A: Julian Assange’s open letter to you criticizing The Fifth Estate is very intense. He even goes so far as to call you a „hired gun“ for distorting the truth (or at least what he views as his truth). Did this affect the way you portrayed him or even make you second guess your role at all in this film?
Benedict: Yes, of course it did. To have the man you are about to portray ask you intelligently and politely not to do it gave me real cause for concern, however, it galvanized me into addressing why I was doing this movie. He accuses me of being a „hired gun“ as if I am an easily bought cypher for right wing propaganda. Not only do I NOT operate in a moral vacuum but this was not a pay day for me at all. I’ve worked far less hard for more financial reward. This project was important to me because of the integrity I wanted to bring to provocative difficult but ultimately timely and a truly important figure of our modern times. The idea of making a movie about someone who so far removed from my likeness or situation who brought about an ideal through personal sacrifice that has changed the way we view both social media, the power of the individual to have a voice in that space, and be able to question both the hypocrisies and wrongdoings of organizations and bodies of powerful people that rule our lives… This resonated deeply with my beliefs in civil liberty, a healthy democracy, and the human rights of both communities and individuals to question those in authority. I believe that the film, quite clearly, illuminates the great successes of wikileaks and its extraordinary founder Julians Assange. As well as, examining the personalities involved and what become a dysfunctional relationship within that organization. While the legacy of his actions and the organizations continue to evolve and only history will be the true judge of where this is leading us. The Fifth Estate is a powerful, if dramatized, entry point for a discussion about this extraordinary lurch forward in our society. I wanted to create a three dimensional portrait of a man far more maligned in the tabloid press than he is in our film to remind people that he is not just the weird, white haired Australian dude wanted in Sweden, hiding in an embassy behind Harrods. But a true force to be reckoned with, achieved the realization of the great ideal. I’m proud to be involved in tackling such a contentious character and script. There is only personal truth in my opinion, and the film should provoke debate and not consensus. It should be enjoyable and ultimately empowering to realize that Julian has spearheaded a movement that is the foundations stone of The Fifth Estate, people journalism and what that is capable of including finding out the „truth“ for yourself.
Comment: And he typed that out with his left foot.
Benedict: I used a bit of my right, too. And my nose. My hands were busy scratching my head.
Comment: And this is the proof against a Benedict Twitter account.
Benedict: Julian complex important proud to have attempted an interpretation. Film out Oct. 18 #FifthEstate How’s that?
A: Is it hard to keep the secret of how Sherlock survived? Do you ever have the urge to tell someone? If so, how do you cope?
Benedict: I cry myself to sleep at night. And then wake up laughing.
A: There has recently been a debate about whether television is finally on par with film as an artistic medium. As someone who has achieved considerable success in both TV and film, what is your opinion on this matter?
Benedict: I think there is no debate. I agree. And thank you for your assessment of my achievements.
A: Mr. Cumberbatch, I asked Mr. Hiddleston this question when he did a Q&A on Twitter: Can you feel the love tonight? He was unable to respond, but I’m hoping you will.
Benedict: I’m feeling it right now. Leave me alone.
A: Seeing as to how you’ve been spending a lot of time in the US, what do you find was the most baffling thing about the customs here?
Benedict: I find that no one at the borders ever smiles.
A: Have you turned down or missed out on any roles that you wish you had taken/gotten and what were they?
Benedict: Turned down, no. Missed out, yes. Being specific would be impolite.
A: Has there been a time when you’ve been completely starstruck meeting someone famous but had to play it cool because you’re famous too?
Benedict: Uhhhhhhhh. Every time I’ve met someone famous who I’ve been in the audience of. I have the same butterflies and inability to be cool. I approach them as a fellow member of the human race as the next person in their audience does. I’ve been doing this for 10 odd years, and so to meet people who thrilled me with their work for my entire life in such a concentrated manner as has happened over the last few years has been mind-blowing. One of the many perks of my job, I guess.ppened over the last few years has been mind-blowing. One of the many perks of my job, I guess.
A: This AMA has exceeded my wildest expectations. Has your sass increased since working with Martin Freeman, or were you always this sassy?
Benedict: Well of course Martin will be furious unless I say I owe it all to him. And believe me, his wrath is more fearsome than any dragons.
A: You’ve charmed the pants off of the whole damn world and are highly sought-after in the acting world and yet you remain as gracious and humble as the day you started acting. I just wanted to let you know that among the stories we hear of artists being less-than-pleasant to their fans, you are a breath of fresh air and I can’t tell you how much your fans appreciate that about you.
Question: where has your favorite place been so far to visit?
Benedict: On an untouched New Zealand glacier via helicopter where I stepped out in trainers, jogging pants, and got out and danced. Or touching the earth after my first skydiving jump in Namibia. Or a balcony in South Africa where I felt the sun on my face after the night I was carjacked.
A: What do you think of your fans calling themselves ‚Cumbercookies‘? That way when we all come together, we’ll be the ‚Cumberbatch‘ 😀
Benedict: It’s great! You could call yourself the Cumbergirls, and then when you come together you’d be a flock. Or you could call yourself the Cumbertadpoles and that way you’d be the Cumberspawn…Wait!…Ew! Don’t do that.
A: Welcome to reddit Ben! I stayed up for this AMA (I’m in Australia) and I still can’t think of a decent question. Christ almighty you’ve had a busy year though! Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, Little Favour (which I watched the trailer for a couple of days ago and it looks excellent), August: Osage County, Sherlock Series 3 – heavy breathing – The Fifth Estate. I don’t know how you find the time to eat and sleep to be honest. I’m 98% sure this will get buried but I guess I just wanted to thank you for being such an awesome and inspiring person, and for approaching playing Julian Assange with such finesse (Wikileaks and government transparency are issues very dear to my heart and have been a big part of Australian media for the past few years. I watched your interview on GMA this morning and was really happy to see you’ve treated his character with the complexity it deserves). Oh, and how did you find the Australian accent to mimic? I’ve heard it’s one of the more difficult ones to get right!
Benedict: Thanks to Sarah Shepard. I think we did Ok. She was a wonderful friend as well as help in perfecting the accent but in particular Julian’s speech patterns. And according to the Australian journalists I met in Toronto, we did a good job. I hope you agree. Thank you for your kind comments. It’s very appreciated from an Aussie. And especially one who must be almost as tired as I feel.
Comment: Plus you rock the fuck out of blond hair
Edit: He acknowledged me. New Reddit highlight.
Benedict: Well thank you, you’re in a much loved minority.
A: Mr. Cumberbatch, I don’t have a question. I just wanted to say that I think you are lovely in Sherlock and that my husband named our fish after you.
Benedict: I hope that fish lives a long life. Don’t put it near any rooftops.
A: Oh good lord. Under protest (if I don’t write this my 15 year old daughter has said she’ll create a Reddit account, and I really don’t want her hanging out with some of the very strange people here), I am directed to say that the next time you come to Toronto you are welcome to come over for a roast beef and yorkshire pudding dinner. To subvert this message, I’m asking you to please bring a date.
Benedict: Thank you very much. I’ll try and create some time next time I’m over there with The Invitation Game. For some English grub with you. No promises, though.
A: Hello! Any plans for working on anything for BBC Radio? I’m a huge fan of Cabin Pressure and would love to hear you all back for the last, „Z“, episode! All the best. 🙂
Benedict: Ask John Finnemore. He’s the writer. Hello John, if you’re out there. We love you!
A: With your (crazy) filming schedule, what creature comforts do you look forward to the most when returning home?
Benedict: Walking or running on Hampstead Heath, seeing my friends and family, cooking for myself, and the embrace of those I love. Beyond that, a whisky, the fire and a good book.
A: What’s the weirdest encounter you’ve had with a fan?
Benedict: Ted Danson at a pre-Oscar party screaming across a floor of people like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ray Liotta, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, et al while pushing past them and knocking their drinks. „OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! IT’S FUCKING SHERLOCK HOLMES!“
A: Japan seems to really love you. Any funny/interesting/weird or simply memorable thing that happened to you there?
Benedict: Being greeted by 1000 people at an airport is pretty formidable as experiences in life go. I’d love to go there again and escape on a bullet train to the South Island to see Kyoto and more spots of beauty and spots of interest. A remarkable country that has been through so much in recent time that I’m very proud to be liked by. Thank you.
A: What are your top 5 favorite songs?
Benedict: At the moment: MS by Alt-J, Strong by London Grammar, Pretty much all of Sigur Ros‘ Valtari album, One Day Like This – Elbow, Fever to the Form – Nick Mulvey, Two Fingers – Jake Bugg. I’m rubbish at counting, and favorites.
A: Mr. Cumberbatch, everyone loves you for a myriad of reasons: your personality, looks, hair, cheekbones, you name it. I was wondering, what’s your favorite part about you?
Benedict: I guess as an actor your eyes are vital in conveying any internal thought process or feeling, and for that I have my mum to thank. Other than that, I’m happy to default to your judgements.
A: My wife would sincerely like to know if you are wearing anything under your robe….. please respond, this is important for our mental wellbeing.
Benedict: You should be asking who’s naked under it with me.
A: Nutella or Marmite?
Update: Also, please check out the trailer for Little Favour, directed by a friend of mine Patrick Monroe. I hope you enjoy it!
Final Update: Thank you, reddit. This has been more fun than I imagined. It’s been great to be able to reach out and speak to a few of you. Sorry for those that I didn’t get to respond to. JA bless you all. See you all the next time.