Benedict Cumberbatch shared a secret about his Star Trek Into Darkness character with scientist Stephen Hawking after getting drunk.
As soon as it was announced the actor was playing the villain in the 2013 sci-fi film, fans speculated about the real identity of his character, who was initially billed as ‘John Harrison’.
Following the movie’s release, cinema-goers found out Benedict’s role was really an updated version of Khan, the villain from 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a fact Star Trek producers had gone to great lengths to keep under wraps.
However, Benedict let the secret slip when drinking alongside the legendary British physicist, who he played in a 2004 TV movie, after a 2012 event at London’s Royal Society.
“We were at the Royal Society for a discussion on the future of science and it was a long night so we decided to go for a drink,” he recalls to British chat show host Graham Norton.
“We got knee deep in Margaritas and it was at that drunken moment I thought I would tell him I was playing Khan in Star Trek. Stephen was the only person I told. He liked the fact I had told him. It made him smile.”
Stephen, 74, is one of the world’s most respected scientists despite being paralyzed for the majority of his life due to suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The story of how he became an eminent scientist, despite being given just two years to live when diagnosed with the illness aged just 21, was also told in the 2014 movie The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne.
Eddie, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen, admits he approached the role with trepidation because the scientist’s nurses were so taken with Benedict when he had visited to research his 2004 role.
“I had an horrific moment,” he tells Graham, adding, “I went to visit Stephen for the first time and I remember the door was opened by this wonderful group of nurses whose opening line was, ‘We love Benedict!'”