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Benedict Cumberbatch Responds to Julian Assange's Letter, Explains Why 'The Fifth Estate' Is Important to Him

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire October 11, 2013 at 11:08PM

With Bill Condon's Wikileaks thriller "The Fifth Estate" opening wide later this month, the film's subject Julian Assange took to his site earlier this week to post a letter sent to the actor that portrays him in the film, Benedict Cumberbatch, urging him not to take part in the project. Cumberbatch did, and today he addressed the letter in a reddit chat with his fans.
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The Fifth Estate

With Bill Condon's Wikileaks thriller "The Fifth Estate" opening wide later this month, the film's subject Julian Assange took to his site earlier this week to post a letter sent to the actor that portrays him in the film, Benedict Cumberbatch, urging him not to take part in the project. Cumberbatch did, and today he addressed the letter in a reddit chat with his fans.

Below, view the exchange:

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?

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.

What do you think of his response? And will you be catching the film when DreamWorks opens it October 18th?


This article is related to: Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Cumberbatch, Wikileaks, The Fifth Estate, The Fifth Estate, Julian Assange, Julian Assange






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