Benedict Cumberbatch interviewed by Style (n. 1-2 january/february 2014), magazine of Corriere della Sera newspaper.
For everyone who can’t understand italian I translate the interview. (please let me now if something sounds odd, it’s since high school that I don’t translate such a long text and my english is a bit rusty)
Magazine cover: Benedict Cumberbatch. Change life: an actor’s art.
page 51: Benedict Cumberbatch. Very british (I know, sounds a lot like the doge meme XD). He changed face and personality to interpret Julian Assange, the man who changed the rules and relationships in the world with his revelations. He is the coolest actor of the moment, for elegance, aristocratic charm, beauty changeable. And transformation. «I flee to change the routine. A year in a Tibetan monastery. Silence and English lessons»
page 52: «IN LIFE IS ESSENTIAL TO KNOW HOW TO REMOVE ANCHORS TO HABITS»
page 53-55: He is considered a master of transformation. A true artist in changing private life. As well as the characters he portrays. From the most iconic of detectives, Sherlock Holmes (in the last english TV series), in that kind of digital detective who is Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. To Khan, the villan of the last Star Trek, Into Darkness, the sinister dragon (which lends facial expressions and, in the original, even the deep baritone voice), which gives the title to The Desolation of Smaug, the last chapter of The Hobbit saga. And then, even the actor in more mature films whitch could all wins Oscars: Catholic landowner and slaveholder, oscillating between pity and sadism, in the already praised 12 years a slave (in theaters from February 20); mentally unstable member of a disrupted family in August: Osage County with Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper (from February 6). So many different characters, only one face: the modern and aristocratic one of Benedict Cumberbatch, 37, englishman moved to Hollywood, one of the most popular actors at the time because of its elegant transformation. In his England where, thanks to Sherlock enjoys immense popularity, he is a reassuring presence for the charity events of prince Charles. Thanks to its style made of impeccably cut dresses, regimental ties or silk in shades of gray and worn elegance shoes. Plus a charm typical of certain characters that you meet in the pages of Evelyn Waugh or Julian Fellowes, Anglo-Saxon high society style. But in spite of the ancestors whorty Downtown Abbey is one of the faces of most contemporary cinema: rangy, ductile eclectic, able to embody the good and the bad, but most notably in trouble with the ugly. Cumberbatch looks in between the boy and the mature young man, away from the excesses and able to keep their emotions hidden, he is son of artists: the family, with strong theatrical traditions, has always supported his natural talent for acting (albeit with some invitation to graduate in Law). Even if you ask him how it ended its long relationship with actress Olivia Poulet, he avoid answering with British snobbery: “I do not like talking about myself, thank you. I had a serene childhood and adolescence, but introspection is in my nature. Talk about me to strangers it’s hard, I usually disappear behind my characters or litt run away “
Where do you flee, mr Cumberbatch?
My last time I went with few, trusted friends on the Himalaya and I confirm that I spent a whole year in a place of silence and culture in a Tibetan monastery where I taught English.
You became Assange in The Fifth Estate: a character among the most topical and controversial.
When I am stimulated I give myself unreservedly. I feel admiration for what Assange tried to do to and his consistency; I support protests against cuts to culture in the UK and sending troops to Iraq. and then sometimes I have fun to embody the mysterious types, radicals and spies.
You graduated from the prestigious University of Manchester and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. What was your favorite subject?
Literature: I always found who knows how to translate the clarity or cluodiness of the ideas in enlightening words. Panting and film came soon after.
What is your favourite film? There is a director with whom you’d like to act in particular?
Among colleagues I have a great admiration for Gary Oldman and Daniel Day Llewis. Lawrence of Arabia is my film par excellence. It has everything, adventure, a good script able to project into the present, spendid and complex human portraits. My cinematographic imagination has been shaped forever by this great show, its actors, Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, by its wide open and limitless spaces and at the same time with limits and historical meanings, in which the film of David Lean was set. With the doubts of Hamlet, which I brought to the theater, this great film show is one of my references for an ideal world of entertainment that is culture.
Among directors, from which one would you like to be sign up?
I would be thrilled to be chosen by Paul Thomas Anderson: his films give something strong and true to the audience, and Martin Scorsese, who has a deep passion and knowledge of cinema. There is a sort of musical rhythm in all of his works.
What music do you prefer?
One that can translate into notes a thought, a state of mind. Just as I’m interested in painting that knows how to be read. There are some bands that I follow, like Radiohead.
How you spend a typical day of yours?
I do a job that takes away the anchors to habits. An example? We shot 12 years a slave mostly in New Orleans: a charming place, even disturbing and gothic. Although I often shut myself in the hotel, I was seized by this strong film and the history that I felt around.
You love to travel. Which of the places where you have shot a film was impressed in your memory?
I’ve played August: Osage County in Oklahoma and Nebraska, in the middle of nowhere, with streets that were lost and an old house that seemed out of a painting by Edward Hooper. It had created a curious intimacy between us as actors: Meryl Streep, the great Chris Cooper, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Edwan McGregor. Even the small towns not far from the sets in the two Countries seemed as empty appearances, lost in the streets of America. Moreover, in these places often I lack the energy that London can give me; ah, I will never take permanent residence in Hollywood or Los Angeles.
Do you usually use your computer, smartphone or internet?
No, I don’t. But I find fascinating the parallel realities of cyberspace. The film about Assange has also represented a time of study and knowledge. After that, the books of J.R.R. Tolkien stimulate me more fantasies and mental journeys.
You have attended Catholic schools. Did they form or condition you?
I would not say that, and in a more mature age I chose the pacification also made of silences of Buddhism, though I do not practice any religious doctrine.
Even in Star Trek there is a form of longing for religion…
I prefer the word spirituality, I always liked Star Trek because it goes beyond life, as director JJ Abrams always says, a true visionary.
Be honest: do you like most Sherlock Holmes, the detective often depressed Baker Street or Dr. Watson, who loved women, playing cards and drinking?
They seem complementary to me: Holmes is an outsider, Watson the nicest. I like them both, they are two literary creatures of eternal fascination as Victorian England.
«THE FEMALE WORLD TODAY IS OVERPOPULATED BY MODELS. I PREFER TRUE AND STRAIGHFOWARD WOMEN»
Do you think you have an Anglo-Saxon elegance?
I prefer classic dresses in men, but I’m comfortable in jeans and sweaters, and yes, I am convinced that the style of a person will reveal at least part of his/her character. Sometimes I wear shaved or ribs velvet suits, suitable for all hours; I could never pose as a model. I would feel absolutely ridiculous.
Do you consider yourself a snob or a elitist?
In some aspects yes, especially if I chat with someone who does not grasp the things I’m talking about. There is a difference between the words elitist and aristocratic. I prefer the first.
What do you ask in a friendship?
Energy, availability, advice if I need it and sincerity. Meryl Streep on the set of August: Osage County has proved to be an extraordinary and potential friend and a woman with a genuine, strong femininity.
What do you value most in a woman?
The ability to be herself, with spontaneity and without superstructures. The female world today is overpopulated by models.
The same can also be applied to men…
That’s true, today virility is showed off. Too much, which, in my opinion, hides fragility and insecurity.
How do you deal with the vanity that every actor has, even if he pretends that it is not so?
Reading, traveling, studying, being interested in the world. Usually I buy two newspapers, trying to avoid the ones that trample and manipulate reality through stereotypes, the exasperation of consumerism and the morbid hunting revelation about privacy of others.
Be a quick-change artis on the screen has changed some of your attitudes or habits?
Being an actor is a job of continuous adaptations and transformations. Due to these characteristics frees you from a lot of filth habit. On the other hand, I love the routine of walking to London, to feel free from any label, be Benedict Cumberbatch and nothing else.