While “Lincoln” hovers in DreamWorks' awards season spotlight mainly for Daniel Day Lewis' towering performance, the studio is wisely also glancing ahead to its other doppelganger drama, WikiLeaks biopic “The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. They've certainly put in a vote of confidence with a locked winter 2013 release date, but one party remains less than thrilled, simply on the entire prospect: the famed whistleblower himself.
Assange has recently come forward with sharp criticisms of the Bill Condon-directed film, after obtaining a leaked copy of the script penned by writer Josh Singer ("The West Wing"). In a videolink speech before the Oxford Union debating society last week, the computer expert called the film “a mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks, the organization [and] the character of my staff."
While playing down his methods of acquiring the script (but hinting at views of previous drafts), Assange said the film focuses on a fictional mole in Iran's nuclear program, who then discovers the country will soon complete an atom bomb as well as ballistic missile capabilities. When WikiLeaks publishes his name, he's forced to flee to Iraq, but as Assange describes it, the entire narrative is "a lie built on a lie."
He claims the U.S. intelligence community agreed that Iran's development of nuclear arms ceased in 2003, and that any evidence of WikiLeaks' part in an Iran mole's exposure had yet to surface. "[The filmmakers] tried to frame Iran as having an active nuclear weapons program. Then they try to frame WikiLeaks as the reason why that's not known to the public now," he said.
With the film's apparent concentration on the Islamic Republic's atomic energy program — and its opening scenes set in Tehran and Cairo – Assange concluded that the film is not only an attack against him, but also “an attack against Iran. It fans the flames of an attack against Iran."
A rep from DreamWorks declined to comment on Assange's accusatory response, but if a political bias shuffle from “Zero Dark Thirty” to Condon's film hadn't already occurred, it may start now. Much of it perhaps too early for the director's liking as well, as the project — with Cumberbatch opposite Daniel Bruhl as WikiLeaks co-founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg — has just begun production.
We'll see how much veracity lies in Assange's claims when “The Fifth Estate” opens November 15th, boasting a tremendous cast including Laura Linney, "Downton Abbey" star Dan Stevens, Alicia Vikander, Carice Van Houten, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, and Peter Capaldi. [News.au]