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The Imitation Game star Benedict Cumberbatch has shrugged off any suggestion of similarities between his lead characters in the biopic about famed British World War II code-breaker and father of computer science Alan Turing and his hit TV show Sherlock.
“He doesn’t swish around in a coat and curly hair, demonstrating how brilliant he is; he’s a very quiet, stoic and yeah, someone who is smart. But the way he has to operate as an outsider and as someone who is at all different is something that was very much out of the conditions of his life,” he told a press conference in London Wednesday ahead of that evening’s opening of the BFI London Film Festival. “I didn’t read the script and go ‘Oh, this is Sherlock in tweed, messing around with valves.”
Despite helping decipher the Nazi Enigma code and bring about the end of WWII, while also laying down the framework for computing and artificial intelligence, Turing was prosecuted by the British government in 1952 for homosexuality at a time when it was considered a criminal act. Having accepted chemical castration treatment, he later killed himself in 1954 at the age of 41. Taking on such a character, who only recently has begun to be recognized for his achievements, was something that Cumberbatch said was a significant responsibility.
“The idea of getting a broader story out there, a broader picture of him to a broader audience, is something that does bear a certain weight of importance,” he said. “It’s his legacy. This has been an extraordinary decade for him, because of pardons, because of his centenary, because of exhibitions and books and now this film. It’s part of a momentum; I hope to have him at the forefront of the recognition he deserves as a scientist, as a father of the modern computer age and a man who lived an uncompromising life in the time of disgusting discrimination.”
Cumberbatch added that despite being known for taking on roles as eccentric geniuses, he does “play stupid people as well, you know. If anyone’s got any other stupid people I can play, let me know.”
The Imitation Game has its European premiere at London’s Leicester Square Wednesday, kick-starting the BFI London Film Festival, which closes on Oct. 19 with David Ayer‘s Brad Pitt-starring tank drama Fury.
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The Harder They Fall
Palm Springs international film festival