The Sherlock star plays Assange in The Fifth Estate, a new film based on the story of his whistleblowing website which hit headlines across the globe for leaking top secret and classified documents from military and international government sources.
The first photograph of Cumberbatch in costume as Assange emerged online on Wednesday (beg23Jan13), the same day the beleaguered Australian journalist addressed students at Britain’s prestigious Oxford University via videolink from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he is seeking sanctuary as he fights extradition to Sweden and the U.S.
During the talk, Assange addressed the movie project and even read a portion from the script, telling the Oxford students, “It is a lie upon lie. The movie is a massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff.”
He focused on scenes from the movie which appear to make reference to an alleged nuclear weapons program in Iran, adding, “How does this have anything to do with us?… How is it that a lie gets into a script about WikiLeaks?”
The Fifth Estate is being directed by Bill Condon, the moviemaker responsible for the last two films in the Twilight vampire franchise, who released a statement defending his new film and its controversial subject matter: “It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it’s revolutionised the spread of information.
“So this film won’t claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked.”
The Fifth Estate, which also stars Laura Linney, Inglourious Basterds’ Daniel Bruhl and former Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens, is due for release in America on 15 November (13).