One of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s many skills is playing the media. His latest move was to appear on Skype with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation, timed for the upcoming release of Dreamworks biopic “The Fifth Estate,” hitting theaters October 18. Unsurprisingly, he blasted the film, telling the HFPA it was “opportunistic and hostile.”
This came after Assange penned a letter dated from January of this year to “Fifth Estate” star Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the bleach-blond provocateur. In the note, he told Cumberbatch — of whom he’s a fan — that he “should reconsider his involvement” with the project, which is “not a good film.” The entire letter is here. Cumberbatch, for his part, recently reacted eloquently to the letter, which he says he received only days before he began to shoot the film. (Watch that video here; in it Cumberbatch also adorably bungles the many film titles he appears in this year, referring to “The Twelfth Estate” and “Five Years a Slave.”) Assange and the WikiLeaks scandal are also connected to the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden (our Laura Poitras/Glenn Greenwald story is here), which is yet another reminder that journalism will never be the same. (The debate continues here.)
Our TOH! interview with Alex Gibney, who directed Wikileaks doc “We Steal Secrets,” is here. It’s fascinating what he chose to include in his story–namely Bradley/Chelsea Manning and the Swedish sex scandal that placed Assange into exile–and what “The Fifth Estate” leaves out.
Written by Josh Singer and directed by Bill Condon, “The Fifth Estate,” which opened the Toronto International Film Festival to mixed reviews, is nothing if not ambitious. It’s demanding and challenging because it’s the rare studio movie–supervised closely by DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider–that is willing to deal with one of the pressing issues of our time: the ways the digital revolution and the internet are changing how we exchange and share information.