Benedict Cumberbatch Defends Julian Assange: 'The World Needed to Know' (Video)

Benedict Cumberbatch says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has a "strong moral purpose behind his actions." But the actor, who plays Assange in Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate, isn't saying whether he thinks the prolific leaker of classified documents was in the right.

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"I think the world needed to know," Cumberbatch said during his cover shoot for the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. "Whether it was right or wrong, I think only history and time will tell."

The actor, who stars in four films this fall, including 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County, said he tried to get in touch with Assange about the role.

"I wanted to get in contact with him. I would have liked to have met him," Cumberbatch said. "For reasons which I respect, he didn't want to do that — to condone a film he didn't want to agree to. So we ended up having a very brief e-mail exchange."

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During his THR cover shoot, Cumberbatch also previewed his return as the world's greatest consulting detective in BBC's Sherlock, which is entering its third season after a dramatic finale that saw the character fake his own death.

"He comes back. He's reunited and John [Watson, played by Martin Freeman] is united with someone else," Cumberbatch said. "And there's an incredible new villain on the scene."

Sherlock returns in the U.S. in 2014 on PBS Masterpiece, with Lars Mikkelsen playing the villain, Charles Augustus Magnussen,

For more on Cumberbatch, read his cover story here, or pick up the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

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