Benedict Cumberbatch Contrasts Harrison With Nero + Reveals His 80s TV Fandom

Star Trek Into Darkness villain actor Benedict Cumberbatch has a lengthy interview in the May issue of SFX magazine. In excerpts below find out what he has to say about the villain John Harrison (comparing him to Eric Bana’s Nero) and also get an insight into what TV shows the actor was a fan of growing up (spoiler: shows with Hasselhoff).   


Cumberbatch: Harrison is a Homegrown Terrorist

The May issue of SFX magazine has a lot of stuff about Star Trek Into Darkness (see earlier article with quotes from Damon Lindelof and JJ Abrams), but the longest interview in the mag is with actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Here are a couple of excerpts… 

What kind of dynamic does John Harrison bring to Into Darkness?

Cumberbatch: I thought Eric Bana did a phenomenal job in the first film, he was brilliant as that Romulan, but this required something that was going to blow that incredible, beautifully cast and realised unit apart. So they really had to up the ante a little bit. He’s a homegrown terrorist, someone who has an inordinate amount of skill with close-hand combat and weaponry. But also as a psychological terrorist he’s someone who can plant an idea that’s as vicious as a bomb and explode loyalties and expose relationships and try and turn people against one another to do his bidding. He really disrupts the unity aboard the ship, both physically and mentally. He’s a worthy adversary

Benedict Cumberbatch interviewed in May issue of SFX magazine

The British actor was also asked about his own fandom, and he has some surprising interests…

How much of the geek gene do you possess?

Cumberbatch: Not very much. I’m not very geeky. I’m quite homespun. I would say I’m more modern rustic than gadget-orientated. I like woollen things and log fires and whiskey… I obviously have a latent fan fixation with Star Trek because of how thrilled I was when everyone got together in the first reboot. I never was obssessive about anything I watched when I was a kid, except maybe The A-Team and Airwolf… And I loved Knight Rider and then later Baywatch. I would always try and get near a TV to watch one of those. But I was never obssessed.

Benedict Cumberbatch and some of his favorite things (childhood and today)

More Star Trek Into Darkness in SFX

In additon to the two-page interview with Benedict Cumberbatch,the May issue of SFX magazine went on sale today and there is much more in the Star Trek Into Darkness cover story interview with JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Karl Urban – as well as Paramount’s Brian Miller on the new game.  There is also fun ‘Star Trek Prebooted’ feature with light-hearted speculation on what Trek would look like in the 1890s, the 1930s, the 1950s or the 1970s, illustrated by veteran Star Trek comic book artist Mike Collins.

May issue of SFX

You can buy buy the print version online or you can pick up a digital version Apple Newsstand, or Google Play.


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God, I loved Airwolf’s theme song.

I really hope that the press junket for Star Trek Into Darkness puts Pine, Quinto, and Cumberbatch in the same interview group. Spocks, er, sparks- will fly! (in a good way)

“homegrown terrorist”

Sooo, not Khan, then? lol

Not sure I’d say that Bana did a phenomenal job, it’s probably polite to say he did the best with the material he had….

Nero was the most boring Trek villain, he add nothing to the movie.

Ok, I may be pointing out the obvious here, but have you noticed “John Harrison” has yet to be seen or heard in any footage? I think that is a big clue he is not. I’m still keeping my chips on a Gary Mitchell. And let’s keep the discussion here–if any starts–spoiler-free (I haven’t read the latest rumor story on this site, and nor will I. I want to be as surprised as possible!)

@ 6. TheRealBryanB

IIRC Gary Mitchell rumor was denied by Bob on one of the threads here.

Speaking of keeping element of surprise, you might want to stay away from Trekmovie & the sci-fi news sites in general, as I’m planning to do, once the movie is out in Europe a week before North America.

If Harrison has more depth than Nero, that will be a plus. Nero wasn’t adequately explored in the movie, presumably due to time constraints. I’d have been happier if Abrams and co had released an extended DVD (like Jackson with the Lord of the Rings trilogy) to fill in some of the gaps, rather than just putting a few deleted scenes in the options.

Oh–that’s right. And yes! absolutely!

I like his taste in Knight Rider. I remember watching it in re-runs in the 90s and I had a major crush on KITT. I mean Michael Knight was great to look at but his car was what I had drooled over. I still think KITT is pretty hot, as far as cars go. (I can’t be the only one who had a crush on KITT, right?)

I do like Nero but he’s not a particularly complex adversary. I’m looking forward to an antagonist with more layers. I also like how it sounds as though Harrison takes the fact that this Enterprise crew hasn’t completely gelled yet and will use that to his advantage to cause discord. I think it’ll create a really great story arc in terms of how these relationships develop and I’m interested to see what state they’re in by the end. I assume that by the end of the film they’ll more closely resemble the more familial relationships that we’re familiar with in TOS.

I can’t wait to see this film!

@8. obsessiveStarTrekFan

The Countdown comic explained a lot. In actuality, that comic would have made a better movie than the movie did. I really think they should have a two parter with the comic as the part 1 movie leading into the movie they made. Oh, we’ll. next reboot…

I just finished watching the BBC Earth documentary “South Pacific”. Benedict Cumberbatch was the narrator.

I’ve also seen him in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, and of course, “Sherlock”.

A tremendous actor with a great voice!

@3. Jax Maxton,
“homegrown terrorist” Sooo, not Khan, then?”

I believe Khan is the very definition of a “homegrown terrorist”.

Wow, it’s almost May kids! At this point, I don’t care who he’s “really” playing. STID will unleash the CUMBERLORD!

@ 13. Curious Cadet

Khan wasn’t a terrorist. Khan was a ruling dictator.

Who has the Airwolf theme in their head now?


“homegrown terrorist”

Sooo, not Khan, then? lol

Okay, now I really believe I know what’s up with this character. He is Khan and he isn’t. The guy called John Harrison is a clone of Khan, a genetically enhanced agent engineered by Section 31 as one of their top agents, homegrown by protomatter developed by Admiral Marcus and his talented daughter within a few months.
That project gets out of control when Harrison discovers his own roots and realizes he is destined for greatness due to his DNA… Then they shut down the program, “committing this terrble crime, John Harrison is not willing to forgive”…This is what turns him into a terrorist, relentlessly planing one attack on Starfleet after another, after another, after another…

@17 not bad idea. starfleet finds botany bay – keeps the augments asleep – takes their dna – makes its own augments – shit goes bad – starfleet destroys augments – harrison pissed off – star trek into darkness

@ 18. 2vix

I highly doubt that. The general public has no idea what an “augment” is.

tru dat


At one point, the term “augment” was explained to you. Thus, it could potentially be explained in the movie to the general public.

I have the Knight Rider theme in my head now! LOL! LOVE KITT and have several toys of him,my latest being the 1/15th DST KITT,LOVE it! DST do good ST ships as well btw. lol!

Also loved Greatest American Hero,another great theme song,lol!


Nero was simply the worst villain ever.

Cumberbatch is terrific. That’s what Abrams has to say about him in his latest interview

People have asked my why I choose Benedict for this and I would answer that by saying, ‘why not Benedict for everything?’ He is so crazy good. I loved working with him. He brings exactly the respect and intelligence and depth and also humour to every scene as I was hoping he would. When I saw his work in Sherlock, like so many others I was impressed by his seemingly effortless dexterity and his ability. It was almost like watching an Olympic gymnast go from incredible position to incredible position. He really is an exceptional talent and in addition to being the great actor he is, he was an absolute joy to spend some time with. He is someone who just elevated everything and while you don’t want the classic, clichéd British villain, which we’ve all seen a million times, my guess is that we’ve seen just as many American villains. I think Benedict is one of the best actors alive. So the real question is ‘why did he accept the movie?’ I think he is so good and seeing him in Sherlock just blew my mind and I had that feeling that he would be great for almost anything. And he exceeded all my expectations

@23. captain_neill

In my opinion, that honour goes to Shinzon,

#16, regrettably, I am stuck with the earworm “Knight Rider” theme

I did have a thing for KITT but that was because the voice was William Daniels, whose voice I’ve enjoyed since he played John Adams in “1776” and the supercilious surgeon Mark Craig in “St. Elsewhere” – his “Todaaaay, Ehrlich” is a common phrase in my household : )

Oh noes, I just spotted someone mentioning “Greatest American Hero” – another awful earworm … must … clear … hearing … palate ….!

#23, Captain, IMHO he and Khan were about neck and neck. Bana did do a great operatic villain and Montalban exceeded that performance, growling out his Melville quotes, but the characters they played seemed equally “operatically” motivated (melodramatic in the extreme). Nonetheless somewhat enjoyable, especially Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.

What a great movie TWOK was to me. After the cinematic perfection of ST TMP with its rather thin (and plot-rehash) script, TWOK was a more TOS-type movie in its production values, scripting and acting. TMP was to me beautiful but somewhat soulless, with a few amusing moments and a few character moments, but overall, its fascination with special fx gave me the fidgets. At least it gave me Trek after a long drought : )

This may be stereotyping in my part because of his roles and the fact that he’s British. But he just sounds sophisticated as hell. Hahaha!

“…. I’m not very geeky. I’m quite homespun. I would say I’m more modern rustic than gadget-orientated. I like woollen things and log fires…”

Oh god…
I love this man…*ahem*…in a platonic kind of way…of course….

“….And I loved Knight Rider and then later Baywatch.”

Mkay. Whatever. I love you.


“…[Harrison] He’s a worthy adversary.”

So good to hear….

Everybody love Knight Rider and K.I.T.T….;-)

Saturdays in the uk after final score in the 80s was a great run of us TV. A team, battlestar, buck Rogers, a team, knight rider, street hawk, automan, blue thunder, airwolf, manimal … The joys of action TV at the age of 10 :)

“Everybody love Knight Rider and K.I.T.T….;-)”

Of course.

“Everybody” but me.

However, I do love the man I was referring to in my post @ 27.

…Um…I love him….In a…. platonic… yes! (that is the word I was looking for)…a platonic kind of way…I cannot stress that point enough….


Personally, I’m thinking Harrison’s a cyborg created by Section 31 using Borg technology salvaged from the Narada’s drill that fell into San Francisco Bay…

But I’m probably over-thinking things… ;-)

With you on the Holy Water!

Knight Rider, Airwolf and The A-Team were my favorite 80’s shows. Also The Greatist American Hero.

Emperor Mike of the Alternate Empire

Ok. Knight Rider and Airwolf and the A Team are also my Faves. I knew i liked this Guy. I could just see Cumberbatch as String Fellow Hawke. Piloting Airwolf

Emperor Mike of the Alternate Empire

#16. Yes. I also Love the Air Wolf Theme. Ok. Bob Orci. Reboot Air Wolf and get Cumberbatch as String Fellow Hawke.

I like woollen things and log fires and whiskey and I’m a geek. I always find it hilarious when people assume it has to be one or the other. Like everyone knows if you are a geek, your house must be fully automated and look like the Apple Store, and you must eat nothing but freeze-dried astronaut ice cream and never wear natural fibres.

I miss living in London, but never more than now. Check out the art gracing the tube stations:

Check out what #17 is saying, think he’s got it, or a variation on that type of Khan theme, like the Bourne movies…

Maybe its just me, but I don’t agree with BC that Eric Bana was ‘brilliant’ in ST2009. He was great in other movies, especially “Munich” but he looked bored in ST2009.

33… I never cared much for Airwolf or The A Team. My favorite ’80s shows were Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Magnum PI, Remington Steele, China Beach, and of course Star Trek: The Next Generation. Greatest American Hero was great for the first year or so, then got old.

Lets really think back to what this is based on: Heart of Darkness/ Apocolypse Now… Maybe all that happened is that Harrison went Native (like in Avatar) and hates the Federation for doing nasty things… And thinks he’s smarter better etc, but lets say he also hates the Klingons and this film is standalone but a set up for a war with the Klingons on ST 3 ….

42… Wouldn’t the Organians put an end to a Federation/Klingon War just like they did in the Prime Universe?

@ Mr. Orci,

One of the year’s “most-anticipated” films had better not disappoint…me.

I’m watching you.

@ Star Trekker “Khan wasn’t a terrorist. Khan was a ruling dictator.”

So you know Khan’s complete backstory? Please tell it to us.

Many leaders in history have come to power through insurrection. Don’t you think the British thought of the American revolutionaries as terrorists? Or that the British thought the same thing of the Zionist resistance in Israel?

If he is Khan, it appears that he was reawaken at least 8 years earlier than in the original timeline. We’ll discover what his current motives are.

I can modify your statement: “”Khan wasn’t a terrorist. Khan was an engineer.”

Neither tells the complete story.

All speculation will end when the movie is released — before it hits the U.S. Then we’ll all debate how great the movie was or if it sucked (“Are the EVEN numbered films now the bad ones?”).

We shall see.

@ 45
The Original Spock’s Brain

I tend to agree with that statement as well, I don’t think Khan was a terrorist.

Well we do know this because that was what was mentioned in Space Seed.
“Khan was absolute ruler of more than one-quarter of Earth’s population, including regions of Asia and the Middle East. Considered “the best of tyrants”, he severely curtailed the freedoms of his subjects, but his reign was an exception to similar circumstances in Earth history – lacking massacres or internal war.”

But I don’t think he was an engineer. ;)

“He’s a homegrown terrorist, someone who has an inordinate amount of skill with close-hand combat and weaponry. But also as a psychological terrorist he’s someone who can plant an idea that’s as vicious as a bomb and explode loyalties and expose relationships and try and turn people against one another to do his bidding.”


And whoever noted above, a GREAT point: there have been only 2 or 3 lines we’ve seen delivered onscreen by BC. Every other piece of dialogue is dissociated from where it was shot. It can be anyone, but I’m focusing on his IDENTICAL COLOR WARDROBE and all of the “explosives experts” and “detonates the fleet” stuff and sticking with my main man of Izar.

#48 BH … and imagine the possibilities of Garth’s shape-changing ability, holy moley!

#32, Section 31 would have to work mighty fast … unless they went back in time with the technology and assimilated Harrison and we get another convoluted time-travel story. Blehh, I hope not.

I think the “super jump” we have all seen him pull is achieved through selective transformation: grasshopper legs or something.

I believe there was a quote Quinto made about being evil at one point in this film which might have been my misread or slip of his tongue.

Garth is most certainly on the short list of TOS dynamic villains that could go over the top perfectly.

Remember, no one knew who Khan was before ST2. The first season had a half dozen more memorable shows than Space Seed, at the very least. It’s easy to forget what people thought of Khan – if they knew him at all – in 1981.

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