Benedict Cumberbatch Admits Julian Assange's Critique Affected His Performance in 'Fifth Estate'

Benedict Cumberbatch Admits Julian Assange's Critique Affected His Performance in 'Fifth Estate'

The Fifth Estate opens in theaters Oct. 18 and star Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is making his rounds on American shows and interviews online.

He participated in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit and was once again asked about the letter Assange sent him asking the actor to bow out of the movie.

Cumberbatch wanted to meet Assange, who is in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, but he declined. On January 15 he sent Cumberbatch a letter asking him not to make the movie and accused him of being a hired gun.

Assange’s words, Cumberbatch writes, “gave [him] real cause for concern.” However, the letter also inspired Cumberbatch to examine his motivations for making The Fifth Estate: “He accuses me of being a ‘hired gun’ as if I am an easily bought cypher for right wing propaganda,” Cumberbatch says. “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.”

He wants the movie to start a conversation because of the impact Assange and WikiLeaks have on the world and journalism. 

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,” the actor added.

In September, Cumberbatch told The Guardian he took the role because he is “a vain actor.” He had some very harsh words for whistle blowers such as Bradley Manning, who leaked United States papers on the Afghanistan War to Assange. He said President Obama should not give him a presidential pardon because he broke the law. 

Cumberbatch co-stars include Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney. The movie is based on WikiLeaks former spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website.


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