Julian Assange nearly makes Benedict Cumberbatch quit film, says leaked email
NOT a man known for attracting attention to himself, Julian Assange apparently refused to meet Benedict Cumberbatch while he was preparing to play the WikiLeaks founder for a film… and amusingly, it is a leaked email that has revealed this news.
In the letter, sent in January, Assange described Cumberbatch’s film, The Fifth Estate, as “toxic” and “distorted“, adding that the actor should “reconsider your involvement in this enterprise”.
The whistle-blower has been living in the spare bedroom at the Ecuadorean embassy in London after claiming asylum a year ago to avoid extradition to Sweden.
“By meeting with you I would validate this wretched film,” he wrote. “I cannot permit this film any claim to authenticity or truthfulness. In its current form it has neither, and doing so would only further aid the campaign against me.”
“Thus far, the film has received mixed reviews from critics, and Assange did praise Cumberbatch and liked how the two would forever be correlated in the public imagination. I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film,” said Assange. “It is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organisation.”
The book in question is a memoir by former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg, ‘Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website’.
“Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion. This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads.”
“It is going to smother the truthful version of events, at a time when the truth is most in demand. As justification it will claim to be fiction, but it is not fiction. It is distorted truth about living people doing battle with titanic opponents. It is a work of political opportunism, revenge and, above all, cowardice.”
Assange warned Cumberbatch:
“You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth.”
“Not because you want to, of course you don’t, but because, in the end, you are a jobbing actor who gets paid to follow the script, no matter how debauched.”
Cumberbatch almost ditched the role after getting this email, which he called a “considered, thorough, charming and intelligent account” of why he should not take part.
Then, of course, WikiLeaks did this and gave the film huge amounts of publicity. Well done those guys.