The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

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The Times: Saturday Review: Benedict Cumberbatch on life after Frankenstein
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rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly

Copyright National Theatre 2011. Photography Catherine Ashmore.
Courtesy: http://www.benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/

This was in The Times on Saturday and a kind soul from All Souls gave me the article on Sunday. As The Times is only available on subscription, I thought I would just give you a few selected highlights.

The Conversation

"I've been privileged to be around a couple of people who were dying. Its incredible the clarity at the end."

Benedict Cumberbatch is in danger of becoming Britain's greatest leading man after nailing Sherlock and his performances in Frankenstein. He talks to Kate Muir about fame, death and his new film.



This is Benedict Cumberbatch's moment. He is a one-man explosion of thespian hotness after a confluence of extraordinary performances on stage, screen and television. ...

At 34 Cumberbatch is far too young to be a national treasure, but his certificate is in the post. ... His looks are paler and more bookish than most leading men ... but his acting ability leaves most of his generation languishing behind in the cheap seats. ...

What Cumberbatch does brilliantly is male comradeship, of the old-fashioned, posh sort. ... In the independent film Third Star, out next week, Cumberbatch takes this male bonding trope to dangerous psychological extremes.

The movie is a sort of four-go-mad-in-Pembrokeshire tragicomedy, a camping trip that goes from ball-breaking to heartbreaking. Cumberbatch delivers an agonising performance as James, an ethereal creature with a will of iron, who sports a brown fedora and a sharp tongue.

Just because their mate is dying, the lads see no reason not to make fun of him, and combine tenderness with brutal honesty. "It's like going for a walk with a sick white Oprah," they laugh when he tries to advise them on their lives. "You look like shit," one adds, helpfully.

He did. To play James, Cumberbatch wanted to shave off his hair, "but I was slated to play Sherlock, so I couldn't". Instead he became so thin and pale that towards the end of the movie, he seems to float off. ...

"We wanted to give all of it an improvised feel, to help the atmosphere, and adlibbed peripheral moments along the journey. It's the banter you'd expect from four friends who have hung out for a long time."

It is intelligent banter. These are highly educated men in their late twenties, who haven't quite grown up. ...

Although Cumberbatch normally rides around London in leathers on a huge motorbike - to ensure invisibility, he claims - he looked utterly at home in a tuxedo and bow tie, like the impeccably mannered Harrow school boy he is. ...

Cumberbatch's consummate Englishness serves him well. His most popular role, however, is as the modern Sherlock, at once bombastic and brilliant. ... Rather like House, another Sherlockian figure, this modern detective is infuriating. Yet the audience revels in his superiority and straight talking. "Holmes is a very attractive character to play," Cumberbatch says, "because he gets to speak his mind, he has extraordinary abilities, and its just a lot of fun. In the hands of those two scriptwriters you get a lot of beautifully drawn out character studies and scenarios."

Vaughan Sivell, the writer of Third Star, says that Cumberbatch's skill as an actor is in being not only very intelligent and attentive, but also generous in discussing each part. "He was deeply aware of the feeling of a man losing his place in the Universe, and wanting to right everything before he goes. Even in this mundane business of camping, we see it in his face all the time, and he's technically brilliant, because you're not aware he's doing it." ...

Hattie Dalton, the director, thinks that anyone could have played the role of James for sympathy, but Cumberbatch dares to bring arrogance and anger to it. "He thinks just because he's going to die he can tell everyone how to live their lives. But what I think is beautiful is that he's the one that learns the most in the end." ...

The film tackles a subject that hangs over us all constantly, but this is not some C for cancer comedy. It is more about four men working out how their lives should be lived. "I've been very privilieged to be around a couple of people who were dying," Cumberbatch says, "and its incredible what affirmation there can be, what clarity of mind there is at the last point."

It's this ability to retain humility and sensitivity while his star ascends that shows that Cumberbatch is an old-fashioned sort - and a gentleman."

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