With Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing with roles dear to many fans but the actor says if he thinks too much about that it would lead to "madness." Find out what else he had to say about his villainous role in Into Darkness in an exclusive preview excerpt from his interview with Australia’s FilmInk Magazine. But warning, Cumberbatch responds to specific spoilers.
Cumberbatch can’t worry if people hate his portrayal of iconic roles
In the May issue of Australia’s FilmInk, Star Trek Into Darkness bad guy Benedict Cumberbatch talks about a number of things including his time studying in a Tibetan monastery. But he was also asked point blank if the reports about his character in Into Darkness are true – and he also talked about taking on iconic roles. Here is an exclusive excerpt from his interview…
Your’re playing a variation on the villain, Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?
"Umm, I play a character called John Harrison. I can’t say more."
Sherlock Holmes, Smaug in The Hobbit, and now John Harrison. Are you burdened by these larger-than-life characters?
"I do feel a bit disconnected from reality! I go into an audition, and I don’t think about the consequences of getting the job; I just worry about trying to. If I woke up and thought about how much hate there might be for a particular decision that I’ve made bout a particular huge iconic role that’s dear to many people before I got my dirty ands on it, then I would not sleep at all because obviously that way madness lies. You can’t please everyone, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with people with great taste. I’ve trusted them, and good things come when you trust people."
Benedict Cumberbatch interviewed in upcoming issue of Australia’s FilmInk
The issue also has a feature on Star Trek Into Darkness which includes exclusive interview comments with JJ Abrams, Chris Pine, John Cho, Karl Urban, and Zoe Saldana. There’s also a bunch of classic Star Trek tidbits throughout the issue like
Trivia and a celebration of the character Khan.
May issue of Australia’s FilmInk has extensive Star Trek Into Darkness coverage with interviews
The May issue of FilmInk is on stands April 17 for those in Australia. Overseas
readers will be able to purchase digital version via Zinio or iTunes. (and there is always EBay if you need the real copy). Unfortunately Star Trek isn’t on the cover of this one, the Trek goodness is on the inside.
Cover of May FilmInk with Star Trek Into Darkness interviews (on the inside even though "Spring Breakers" are on the outside)
Nice deflection, there, Cumby. Oh, and… First.
Wow. Not even a denial?
Everyone wants to be the first to get him to crack, but
will never crack!
He played a young Stephen Hawking in a bbc drama a few years ago. It was very good. There was a scene where Hawking angrily rushes to the dance floor to dance without his girlfriend, and his movements are very labored. With a lesser actor it would’ve been almost impossible to pull off a scene like that without becoming uninentional comedy.
In politics we call that a non-denial denial
Yeah, they’re hardly pretending now that he’s not Khan – just trying to run out the clock. LOL
Dang! I was 100% convinced that Harrison is in no way Khan but now little tendrils of doubt are beginning to creep in.
No, I’ve stuck with my not-Khan position this long, I’ll see it through to the end. If I’m going to be wrong, I’ll at least be wrong with conviction! LOL
Well I guess this means the third film will be called “Star Trek: The Search For An Original Plot Idea”. I am annoyed with our not Khan scripting.
I have heard he’s just been cast in Del Toro’s new horror film with Jessica Chastain. If I were an actor, I would kill to be Cumby right now.
#8, I’m with you. Sherlock and Smaug are larger than life. I think he’s referencing them. He’s tired of denying it. Dammit, Ben, I’m a social worker, not a non-denial denial mind reader!
He didn’t study in a Tibetan Monastery, he taught English to the monks there.
“…before I got my dirty hands on it…”
Oh Mr. Cumberbatch, you humble thing. This is the 4th time I’m seeing that question though.
I want to see SpringBreakers SOOOOO BAD!
s#!t… he’s Khan… or some clever variation… damn…
Folks, keep in mind that Khan is the name of a larger than life historic figure. As such, it is a mantle. Harrison might easily declare himself Khan in the film as a way of stressing his effect on the world or galaxy. Who is to say TOS’s Singh or his makers didn’t do the same thing?
At the top of this page it said spoilers?
I don’t see anything we don’t already know here.
@Aix-I know right? After this year, this guy is gonna be HUGE. He has 5 movies coming out and the third season of Sherlock. If all goes well this guy is gonna own Hollywood. He’s already a great actor, he now just has to prove he can hold the big screen as well as he does your tv set. I think he’ll pull it off.
I wish we could see a full-face view of Cumberbatch on the poster, not that chin-down frowny face. I think he looks much more threatening when he’s addressing Kirk in the brig. Plus he looks like Cumberbatch, which will attract any number of new audience members.
That pic of Spock and Kirk on the Keeping it Reel page – Kirk looks fine, but why does Spock look like Russell Crowe?
“Captain. Dr. McCoy has run a genetic analysis on this individual and I have found a match with a North American male actor from the mid-to-late 20th Century…
I wonder how many of those who think it’s Khan will go out right after seeing the film on a drunken binge to drown their sorrows when it turns out Khan is not in the film nor referenced.
Take a taxi to this one guys.
I don’t really care… If there’s something cool hidden behind “John Harrison”, then great. If not, and the story is good, I’m fine with that.
I’ve got other things on my mind than getting depressed about being wrong about a film. MJ, Red Dead Ryan and myself have already said we could be wrong. Unlike J.J. keeping a secret, I’ll say it now if I’m wrong. In the words of James T. Kirk, “Here it comes.”
Here’s my mea culpa. if I’m wrong, “I was wrong in deducing that BC was playing Khan.”
That being said, you must remember that our leader Anthony is also in the group. And if we’re wrong, his source has some explaining to do.
One last thing. just in case you haven’t read it from me. Actress Marion Cotillard denied she was playing Talia Al Ghul. in The Dark Knight Rise. She said she was playing Miranda Tate. True. But that was an alias because we learn she was actually revealed to be Talia later in the movie. Link.
What you miss is the fact that her playing Talia, while pretending to be someone else, made perfect sense.
The quintessential white Englishman playing a Sikh Indian superman originally played by a Mexican actor makes no sense.
Nor does having a world-straddling dictator pretend to be a Starfleet officer.
“I wonder how many of those who think it’s Khan will go out right after seeing the film on a drunken binge to drown their sorrows when it turns out Khan is not in the film nor referenced.”
How passe. I have moved on from that. It’s probably not Khan. If it isn’t, I am hopeful that Anthony spills the beans soon on how he helped Orci with the disinformation campaign last year with the “breaking news” article of his?
Aside from my natural misgivings about Khan being in the movie, there is more than just that at stake for me. I (foolishly) agreed to a wager with my girlfriend. If Khan is physically present, she wins the bet and consequently, I will spend an *entire* day in very uncomfortable attire. (Or lack thereof.) Yeesh…
RE: Spoiler warnings
Any article that discusses any spoilers has the warning – new or old spoilers. If it didn’t then there would be complaints there was no warning before someone saw the K word in print.
If there were new spoilers to report that would be clear from headline and/or intro front page text.
Its not Khan. If it was Khan it would get a worldwide simultaneous release.
I mean, all this secrecy will mean nought to more than half the world pretty quickly after our Oz chums down under get online!
William, the movie has not come out yet. So how they alter Khan into John Harrison has not been made public. But before you say genetic alter a character has not been done in a move, let’s go back to James Bond again. As John Harrison would say, “Shall we begin?” In “Die Another Day” (2002); North Korean bad guy Colonel Moon transforms himself into a white man, Gustav Graves by gene therapy. Want a Star Trek example? Okay. Got one. Troi is kidnapped and finds her self transformed into a Romulan, in the TNG episode “Face of the Enemy.” So it’s quite possible to alter Khan into a caucasian.
But why would Khan seek to disguise himself? Remember he’s a fugitive. If he makes an appearance on earth as he was, he would be arrested. There’s a photograph of McCoy examining Harrison’s arm. Is it possible he’s about to discover who Harrison is?
Anyway, here’s what we do know. Kirk wants to know who Harrison is. Harrison is better at everything, I’m guessing he means he’s saying he’s more advanced and not talking about XBOX. He has superhuman strength. His character is canon. He’s concerned about his “family” probably not the Mafia. Oh, he’s come back to earth for revenge. So the ball is in your court. Who do you think he is?
Your’re playing a variation on the villain, Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban in 1982′s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?
“Umm, I play a character called John Harrison. I can’t say more.”
Don’t say a word, you beautiful creature.
“For All That is Concealed Shall Soon Be Revealed”….
“Your’re playing a variation on the villain, Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban in 1982′s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?”
It seems like Mr. Cumberbatch is being asked a… “variation”…of the same question he’s been asked about a thousand times over the months….
There are mainly two hopes I hold up for this new movie:
1. Should ‘John Harrison’ turn out to be Khan, I hope that that revelation comes wrapped up in some nice and REALLY unexpected plot twist.
2. Not ANOTHER lame revenge story. Dangit, that would make THREE revenge-themed Trek movies in a row … well, as I said: I just hope it won’t be just another variation on the “villain bent on revenge, attempting to blow up everything”-story.
20 – Chris Fawkes
We will have to wait for another opportunity to find out if there are people out there so low on self worth that the would react such a way to a movie prediction failing to come to fruition, because if is most certainly Khan
#31 I think you are hoping for quite a lot from this cut-and-paste team.
Cumberbatch sure knows what he is doing. Nice deflection John. er Khan er Lord Garth er Gary Mitchell.
I notice, too, that everyone involved with the production uses the phrase “called John Harrison” instead of “named John Harrison”. I think that that is their out for not lying. Some of the characters in the movie do call him John Harrison, I’m sure. But, his name is Khan!
I find it funny that EVERYONE on here thinks it’s Khan, refer to superhuman strength, has an alias and is in Star Fleet.
There are ONLY two epic characters from TOS that fit the bill:
Khan & Mitchell
EVERYONE on here and most fans in general discount Mitchell because he was killed in the comics (which are a part of nu-canon) yet nothing prevents Mitchell with his God like powers from making a full recovery. Coming back to Earth via some sort of miracle. He could easily defeat Khan with his arms and legs tied behind his back.
The Character has to be a member of Star Fleet since he is some sort of “007” type agent for them.
So what do we know:
Khan is out as a direct character, based on him maybe. I suspect it’s a hybrid character based on Khan & Mitchell.
Do I personally think JJ & Co are being honest with us about all the details?
Heck NO! JJ likes to keep people guessing until the first showing of the film….
Until then sit tight and don’t worry too much…
After all how much more can they Frack up TREK?
@ 28 Basemenr Blogger,
“But why would Khan seek to disguise himself? Remember he’s a fugitive. If he makes an appearance on earth as he was, he would be arrested”
If these guys want to do Khan his way, then they will — Lily white Cumberbatch and all …
But, Khan’s hardly a fugitive by anyone eye’s in the 23rd century, unless we also buy into the premise that Marcus woke him up and enlisted him into Starfleet as some kind of mercenary super soldier, and now he’s gone rogue and needs to be disguised. Recall they had Khan on board in Space Seed for a while before they really started digging though the archives after he showed his hand at dinner. I mean, shouldn’t his picture have popped up the first time they ran his name if he was such a fugitive? As someone argued about a de-aged April, hiding in plain sight, people might think he looks like a young Captain April, but who would think he really is … Much less a forgotten dictator from 200 years past.
With some of the stretches going on to reconcile pet theories, virtually anyone is still possible, with none more likely than another. Even Gary Mitchell is possible if you start genetically altering faces, and changing the very nature of the original character. If Harrison is Khan, there’s very little of the character created by Ricardo Montalban left in him, and to that I say what’s the point — not that it’s not possible by some wild convolutions of established canon. And if it is him, are they going to show us a picture of Ricardo Montalban in a before and after comparison of Khan/Harrison? That might actually be worse than Arnold’s appearance in Terminator 4. Montalban CGI-ed into a cryo tube would be cool, but intentionally highlighting the dramatic contrast between him and Cumberbatch would be comical. To say nothing of trying to explain Khan’s whole back story to the audience, what he’s been up to with Marcus (or whomever), how he relates to April and why and how he changed his appearance.
So yes, Khan could disguise himself and he might have a reason to change his face, but then what’s the point? To salvage a script originally conceived for someone else to keep an already late film from being pushed back even further? If so, that’s the worst possible justification I can imagine, because whatever the case, Khan is simply wasted on Harrison.
I guess I’m a rare fan who could really care less whether he plays Khan or not. As long as the movie is good, I’m satisfied.
Hey! I know! Cumby is the Son of Khan!
35 – EM
I think you are picking up on a transatlantic difference here. In the UK we use “called” very commonly. I went out with a girl called Mary” as opposed to the US, which seems to employ “a girl NAMED Mary. The ‘Batch, being British, is likely employing the former, and shouldn’t be seen as a dodge or hint.
Perhaps if you watch “Skyfall” and then compare it with STID you may
have your answer. 007 turns on ____ and Harrison (007 type) turns on
Maybe the villain was originally going to be Khan (when Benicio Del Toro was offered the part)
Now, maybe they just tweaked the character a bit to reflect the Anglican features of Cumby. (ie. Khan dies during the resuscitation process so, one of his Lieutenants takes over)
Wouldn’t Khan be frozen on the Botany Bay? Everyone dismisses Garth as a minor character in TOS. I remember when “Wrath of Khan” came out, the name didn’t ring a bell. He was a minor character in an episode that not many people talked about. It’s only after that movie that “Space Seed” hit it big.
I still think it ‘s not Khan.
That goes without saying…my fellow Star Trek fans…
As Admiral Kirk said to Khan in TWOK, “Youve managed to hit everything else, but you keep missing the target”!
…’Still holding out hope for a brand new character to the canon…
So, what is it going to be?
As I said earlier…soon, all shall be revealed…
“Umm, I play a character called John Harrison. I can’t say more.”
Well……that settles it. He’s Khan.
The fellow who posted the wiki for Non-Denial-Denial was dead on.
“Everyone dismisses Garth as a minor character in TOS.”
I think it’s more that Garth was a lunatic. But like Khan in TWOK, everybody forgets he was once a decorated captain. For Garth to change his identity makes a certain amount of sense without also heaping on the ponderous backstory Khan brings to the plate. And as others have pointed out Garth may or may not be associated with other things like Wayne’s World (which is silly given the name “Darth Vader”, but…). Calling him Harrison until the end after Cumberbatch has proven himself will create a brand new association with the name Garth, and you have a new Trek villain equal to Khan. Perhaps one that gets locked away like Hanibal Lechter or Magneto, only to break out again one day.
I agree with your assessment, BTW. I’m hoping they surprise us with a canon connection to Harrison that hasn’t really been explored.
“Well……that settles it. He’s Khan.”
That settles it…for you, and probably some other fellow fans, of course.
I’ll wait for a confirmation article…
Thanks for pointing out the differences in manner of speech. I’m Canadian (have watched a lot of British Television) and never picked up on the difference.
I really don’t care if it is Khan or Gary Mitchell or just plain old John Mitchell! I’m looking forward to a big, fun action movie!
Benedict Cumberbatch will certainly bring a huge amount of ability to the role of the villain, whatever he’s called!