‘Fifth Estate’ Star Benedict Cumberbatch: ‘Julian Assange Asked Me Not To Do Film’

Fifth Estate star Benedict Cumberbatch said Julian Assange asked him not to take the lead in the film. He received a ten-page email from the WikiLeaks founder before beginning production on the film in January.

Cumberbatch said:

“It was a very considered, thorough, charming and intelligent account of why he thought this was morally wrong for me to be part of something he thought was going to be damaging in real terms – not just to perceptions but to the reality of the outcome for himself.”

The 37-year-old said Assange “characterized himself as a political refugee” and said that the organization and its supporters would be “under threat” if he agreed to the film. Cumberbatch said he struggled with the decision.

“Of course [I wobbled],” he said. “The fact that it was coming from the man himself, the day before we started filming? Of course I would hear and feel the protests of the man I was about to pretend to be. I’m a human being.”

In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this week, Benedict Cumberbatch said he believed Julian Assange was a “hero” and that he admired him.

“Is he a hero? In many ways. I think that’s part of what I admire. He turned an idea into a reality – one that’s still affecting our lives and the way we view mainstream media,” he said. “What he’s shaken up is fascinating. It’s an ongoing debate – we’ll see how it pans out – but I’m full of admiration of him.”

At a press conference for the film last Friday, Cumberbatch said he didn’t think Assange would approve ofThe Fifth Estate.

“I’m not a betting man, but I reckon he won’t particularly want to support the film,” he said.

The Fifth Estate is set to be released October 18.