Benedict Cumberbatch participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session on Friday in support of his new film, "The Fifth Estate," and he was asked about Julian Assange's open letter to the actor. In a missive dated Jan. 15, 2013, Assange admonished Cumberbatch for participating in the new film, which tracks the rise of WikiLeaks.
"I believe that you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise," Assange wrote, before then adding that he wouldn't meet with Cumberbatch, a request the 37-year-old actor made before the film's production began. "By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give."
Cumberbatch said the letter did give him pause, but also emboldened him into taking the role. His detailed response is below:
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.
For much more from Cumberbatch, including a hilarious anecdote about Ted Danson, head to Reddit for the full AMA.