Benedict Cumberbatch, known to fans as Sherlock Holmes and Richard III, takes on another complex character, math genius Alan Turing, in “The Imitation Game,” a film about cracking Germany’s Enigma code during World War II.
By Caryn James
Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III
Mr. Cumberbatch’s heart may be with Turing, but his head is clearly in his current role. When he settles down for a one-on-one conversation, he begins to talk—sometimes so fast it’s a wonder he can breathe—about “Richard III,” delving into his process and research in great detail, intensely reciting lines from the play.
A photograph of him as Richard—Shakespeare’s black-hearted king, often depicted as a wizened hunchback—shows Mr. Cumberbatch sitting tall on a horse, his hump inconspicuous under a cloak flung glamorously over one shoulder.
“We figured there would be a certain amount of disguise going on in order for him to function as a luminary in the court and to be a figure of power,” he said.
That idea leads to his take on Richard’s psychology. “When you start talking about the entitlement that his family, the Plantagenets, are heir to—this beautiful, Adonis, athletic family, this sort of English Kennedy family—Richard is this dark embarrassment in the corner that everyone wants to quietly ignore or patronize, this disabled child. Being an outsider festers, and fosters the sociopathic, the anger and sense of entitlement to seize the crown.”
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