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Martin Freeman Does Not Want to be Your Friend

Entertainment Weekly

You may know him from ''Sherlock.'' You may love him from ''The Hobbit.'' But if you meet the star of FX's ''Fargo'' on the street, you may not want to ask for his autograph.

In the taxonomy of Hollywood, Martin Freeman is the kind of actor typically categorized under the genus Everyman. He isn't the dashing action-hero type, nor is he the first guy a Hollywood studio exec would think to put in a big, splashy rom-com (notwithstanding some naked meet-cute moments in 2003's Love Actually). He's the guy who gets picked to play characters such as the wry, sweet cubicle drone Tim Canterbury on the original version of The Office, the steadfast best pal John Watson on the smash BBC series Sherlock, and the good-hearted Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's blockbuster Hobbit trilogy. In some ways, Freeman's latest role, Lester Nygaard on FX's new crime drama Fargo, is a departure for the 44-year-old British actor — there's the thick Midwestern accent, for one thing, which he's honed partly by watching YouTube videos of real Minnesotans. Still, the whole point of the character, a meek insurance salesman who breaks bad and gets entangled in an escalating series of grisly crimes, is that he's the type of self-effacing regular Joe you'd normally look right past. As Freeman puts it drily, ''I don't get cast as the guy who steps off a yacht in a white linen suit with a martini. It would not really be my function to be the smooth guy — unless something s---ty happens to the smooth guy.''

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Martin Freeman: fame, family and Fargo

Интервью Мартиа Фримана для Saturday Times

Irascible, eccentric, outspoken? Nothing like his affable on-screen persona? It’s strange what five months in the snowy wastes of Canada can do to a man – or perhaps this the real Martin Freeman?
[Spoiler (click to open)]You can tell quite a lot about Martin Freeman from his excuse for arriving late for this interview. “I was in a really hot bath watching a documentary about Harold Wilson and I suddenly looked at the f***ing time…”
Quirky, yes; a self-styled intellectual, yes (later, he tells me he is reading a book about the Russian Revolution); prone to giving strangely intimate details about himself (yet very guarded on seemingly innocuous subjects); a bit grumpy, hence the constant swearing; head somewhat in the clouds, so doesn’t notice trivial details such as time – which is probably why he is still talking the hind legs off a donkey three and a half hours later, fuelled by frequent infusions of peppermint tea, beer and coffee.
Freeman, 42, is on a career high – has been for a while now. In the hugely successful modern-day reworking of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, he plays Dr Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock; he is Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, Peter Jackson’s trio of epic fantasy adventure films – the first two grossed nearly $2 billion and the third will be released later this year. And now he is shooting a much-anticipated television series, Fargo, based on the Academy Award-winning 1996 film of the same name. Freeman plays Lester Nygaard, an interpretation of the William H. Macy role in the movie. “I’m f***ing lucky,” says Freeman. “I’ve done four or five things in my career that most actors would give their right arm to have done just one of.”
And yet, despite everything he does, the role people still associate him with – at least in the UK – is Tim Canterbury from the TV sitcom The Office (2001-2003), playing opposite Ricky Gervais’s David Brent. He is the loveable sales rep who fancies Dawn, sticks Gareth’s stapler in jelly and whose job is going nowhere. And I have to say it is Tim who springs to mind as I catch sight of a solitary figure trudging through the swirling snow towards the restaurant in Calgary, Canada, where he has been holed up for the past five months shooting Fargo.
The restaurant is marooned on an island and accessible only by foot. Freeman pushes open the door, brushing the snow out of his cropped, greying hair and stomping his long moccasins. He removes two thick jackets and rubs his hands together. I ask him if he is sick of the weather. “It depends if you’re going to put it in [the article],” he replies. What? Surely the weather is not off limits? “They get easily offended,” he explains. Off the record, he tells me his view – with lots of swearwords – on living through nearly half a year of sub-zero temperatures. But he also confesses that one of the reasons he took on Fargo (which purports to be a story from northern Minnesota) is: “I was interested in the idea of being that cold. I’ve got a bit of a Scott of the Antarctic fixation. On a couple of days they’ve had to stop filming because it’s been -40C.”
His Fargo character is stuck in a dead-end job, selling insurance, prompting comparisons with Tim from The Office, something I am stupid enough to mention, setting off a firestorm. “I don’t think other actors are asked all the time about the similarities between their roles. I don’t think Ben [Cumberbatch] or Daniel Craig are asked that. I think it stems from my so-called perceived approachability. And it is totally f***ing perceived. I come across as a half-decent person and not very pretentious. I’m a good actor; I can pretend. Look,” he says, calming down a bit, “I’m angry and defensive about everything. It just drives me slightly bananas because I know how hard I work. Tim is nothing like Bilbo Baggins either. People tend to think, ‘Oh, you’re just doing what you do.’ It’s a) insulting, b) f***ing bulls***, and c) I’d invite any other f***er to try to do it.”
Right. In fact, he has played a wide range of roles – from a lusty Rembrandt in Nightwatching (2007) to a shrewd Lord Shaftesbury in the BBC One drama Charles II: the Power and the Passion (2003). “People say, ‘I’ve seen all your work,’ and I think, ‘No, you f***ing haven’t. No one has – even I haven’t.’ ” He even found himself starring opposite Penélope Cruz (“a f***ing delight”) in The Good Night, a 2007 romantic comedy. And from July 1 he will be taking on Richard III for three months at the Trafalgar Studios in London. “It will be my first professional Shakespeare. At least I’ll be at home, too.”
He studies the menu, then puts it down with a sigh. “I don’t only want egg and chips all my life, but the title of every dish here is like the first chapter of a book. I’ve never heard of bresaola. And what’s bottarga – is that a cheese?” He does not eat meat (gave it up aged 14) so, after quizzing the waiter, he settles on a green salad (Heritage Greens, Venturi Balsamic Epsom, Parsnip Chips, Fairwinds Farm Caerphilly – he has a point), followed by a pickerel, which we establish is a white fish.
He’s a family man, and the long stint in Canada is beginning to wear on him. He lives in Hertfordshire with the actress Amanda Abbington, who plays his screen wife in Sherlock, and their two young children, Joe, 8, and Grace, 5, but has only been home twice since filming started in October: “It’s a very heavy price. My main priority in any job is when is the soonest I can get back to the three people I love most in the world. I even ummed and ahhed over The Hobbit.”
Freeman met Amanda on the set of Channel 4’s Men Only in 2000, but doesn’t want to say if they are married: “Let’s leave that a mystery. What I like about our relationship is that we choose it. I’m not saying we’re not married, though.”
His phone rings and he sticks a finger in his ear to listen to one of his children. “Are you going to bed now?” He looks at me and mouths “Sorry,” then wanders off to chat in private. When he returns, he tells me his kids sometimes find his fame tricky to handle: “Joe’s just started a gymnastics class and he said to me: ‘Daddy, people don’t believe that you’re my dad there, can you come in with me?’ And I said, ‘Of course I’ll come in,’ but I always try to say, ‘It’s much more important for people to like you for you than for me.’ But when you’re 8, and especially if people don’t believe you, you want to show them. He is very proud of me, as I am very proud of him.”
Despite his huge success and settled family life, he says he is “not brilliant at being happy”. “If you ask my children and Amanda, they will definitely say I am pretty grumpy and hard to live with sometimes. I also know that I can be playful and full of joy…” Freeman describes himself as a hands-on father, happy to get up in the night when his children were babies.
“I wasn’t like a Fifties dad. Now, I enjoy reading and telling them spooky stories. I’m quite a disciplinarian: I can be a shouter. But I can be a very demonstrative kisser and hugger.”
Some aspects of fatherhood surprised him: “It goes without saying that you’re going to love your kids, but what you’re not expecting is wanting to kill everybody in your house. I’m fortunate in that Amanda is generally a slightly nicer person than I am. If it were purely up to me, my kids would probably be vegetarian Catholic Marxists.”
His children love watching their dad in The Hobbit. “I thought the spiders would really do Grace in, but she wasn’t scared by the peril and the violence. The thing that most upset her was the bit where the dwarves come round and basically eat Bilbo out of house and home. Grace is inconsolable at the idea that they have stolen all Daddy’s food – she thinks I’m being bullied.”
Although he makes a very comfortable living, he says he is not as fabulously wealthy as people seem to think. “I understand why people think I am; it just happens not to be true. I’m certainly wealthier than anyone else in the history of my family.”
Nor has he embraced many of the trappings of wealth. “I don’t live large in that way, because that’s not my taste. I drive a Mini. But I love going to Italy on holiday, being happy in the sunshine, eating the best food and looking after my family in that way.”
He describes his house as “a gamekeeper’s cottage” just outside a village – where they moved from London after Freeman grew sick of people ringing his doorbell at all hours to speak to “Tim”. “I fell in love with the house and it was near where Amanda grew up. I had an idea that I would go with John, my father-in-law, to a local village pub, but the dual effect of Sherlock and The Hobbit means that now I just become the cabaret.”
The most common misperception about him, he says, is that, “I’m everyone’s best mate. When people say, ‘I’d love to go for a pint with him,’ I think, ‘No, you f***ing wouldn’t.’ It goes back to Tim from The Office – he was a very approachable, funny schlub. I don’t think people go up to Ray Winstone and go, ‘All right, you c***?’ ”
Of course, there are many worse things than being seen as nice. “Definitely,” he agrees. “But if you grow up small as a kid, it’s like being mummied by the girls: ‘You’re so sweet.’ That casts a long shadow.”
Freeman grew up in Aldershot, Hampshire, the youngest of five children. “You never feel you’re not the youngest. I’m a grown man, doing all right, and I still feel subconsciously as if I’ve got to earn my place in a room.”
His parents divorced when he was 1 and he lived mostly with his father, a naval officer, until his sudden death from a heart attack when Freeman was 10. “At the time, I probably tried to brush my dad’s death under the carpet. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I was small, I was pretty sickly and asthmatic; people already went ‘little Martin’. But when I was 17 or 18, I realised that losing a parent is a big deal. It was devastating in a way that I was unable to acknowledge at the time.” His eyes tear up. “Sometimes I wonder if I heard his voice now, would it be the same as it is my memory?”
He remains very close to his mother, who he describes as “a very egalitarian, principled, left-leaning snob. I never felt hard done by, because I always knew I was loved.”
Raised a Catholic, Freeman went to a Salesian school in Chertsey, Surrey, where the only thing that really rubbed off on him was the religion. “Catholicism goes in somewhere and it colours you for good and bad for ever. So does being the product of divorce. It’s all in there in little layers.”
He has stuck to his faith, although he does not go to church regularly. “I’m about as much of a practising Catholic as I am an astronaut, [but] I will occasionally pop into a church and light a candle and pray”.

via cumberbatchforum

A few of Benedict Cumberbatch's favourite places

High Life asks Benedict Cumberbatch to list his favourite places around the world


There's great city life all over the UK. I love Belfast, Edinburgh's culture is brilliant especially in summer for the festival and the countryside is wonderful. Plus it's where my family and most of my friends live.

I love so many of its cities: New York, San Francisco, New Orleans. And northern California is a favourite, especially south of San Francisco. Big Sur must be one of the most beautiful spots.

New Zealand
I went there for The Hobbit and loved it. The South Island is like Wales on steroids, it's the most extraordinary landscape. Skydiving and seeing Mount Cook and the curve of the Earth around was an amazing experience.

It's the gateway to North Africa and so easy to get to from Europe. Marrakech is magnificent. If that all gets too much, go to the Atlas Mountains for the most amazing views. Essaouira is calmer and more contemplative, like Marrakech on valium.

I spent a lot of my childhood in Greece in a place I won't talk about because it's a bit of a sanctuary for me. I'm mad about the food, the culture and that life revolves around the family. It's so child-friendly and very relaxing.


Absolutely top of my list. I adore London. It's one of the most exciting cities in the world. I couldn't be more proud of our city.

New York
I love New York. I don't know many people who don't. It's such an inspiring, vibrant city. You feel like there's a new world around every corner.

New Orleans
I went there when we were filming 12 Years a Slave. It was so utterly intoxicating — the drinks, food, music, the soul of the place...

It's vibrant, it's young and it's innovative. It's got a treasure trove of interesting architecture and with such a potent history.

I'm an art historian and the centre of Paris is like a museum in itself. I love Montmartre and the whole of the Left Bank is stunning.

Benedict Cumberbatch: my London

London is my favourite city in the world. I was born there, I live there and many of my friends do too. It's one of the most exciting cities in the world, inspiring and so incredibly cosmopolitan. I am incredibly proud to say I come from London.

[Here are some of my favourite things to do there. Mind you, I hate lists. Ask me tomorrow and the line up would probably be different...]

Walks and views

For a great view of London, walk over Waterloo Bridge, stop in the middle and look both ways - east to St Paul's and beyond, west to Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. There are some fantastic views in London, and this is one of my favourites. I also love the view from the top of St Bart's Hospital, an amazing place that traces its history back to the 12th century. That view is very special, especially for me [it's where Sherlock fell to his non-death at the end of the second series].

Go to the top of St Paul's Cathedral for fabulous views of London including the River Thames, Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe. Plus the Dome itself is magnificent. This is architect Christopher Wren's masterpiece.

Another personal favourite vantage point is Parliament Hill in north London, near where I live. All of London is spread out below. Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath are great places to relax or jog.

You can't beat seeing London from the Thames. Take a riverboat trip from Tate Britain to Tate Modern — that's a great ride — and see sights like the Houses of Parliament and St Paul's on the way. There is something really relaxing about looking at a city from a river.

The restaurants

I love Pollen Street Social, Jason Atherton's restaurant and Heston Blumenthal's Dinner in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel in Knightsbridge. I was fortunate to eat at the latter with Heston, having every dish and the history of it explained, which was a pretty spectacular way to understand what he was going for.

I also like Yalla Yalla, a great Lebanese restaurant just off Berwick Street in Soho. Try Brindisa just round the corner for fantastic tapas. If you want a really great vegetarian fest, go to The Gate restaurant in Hammersmith.

The classics

Blacks private member's club in Dean Street is wonderful; it's like stepping onto a Georgian film set replete with 200-year-old floorboards and the most fantastic wine collection.

The Ivy is, of course, terrific. It has some of the best cocktails in town, a great bar and a truly fantastic restaurant.

My neighbourhood

Near my home in Hampstead, I especially like a burger at The Stag — their burgers are fantastic — and one of my favourite local pubs is The Wells.

I'm still curious about...

I haven't done The Shard, London's highest building, but I'd like to try it.


Benedict Cumberbatch: ice driving in Finland

Benedict Cumberbatch ditches his trademark detective's coat for thermals as he dares to cheat death driving on ice in the Arctic Circle. Gavin Green joins him

High Life.BA.

The frozen lake we're standing on is speaking to us. It's a groaning, creaking voice, almost of pain, from way down deep in the icy abyss. 'Listen to that,' says Benedict Cumberbatch, dressed in a thick fur-collared jacket, black salopettes, chunky blue scarf, big snow boots, thick gloves and woolly hat. He looks more Scott of the Antarctic than Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. 'It sounds absolutely magical,' he says, concentrating hard on the sound of the ice moaning beneath us, around us. There is no other sound. It's too cold for birds or people or animals, too isolated for traffic.

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"I want 2014 to be better for different reasons"

Интерьвю Бенедикта Камбербэтча USA TODAY (там есть видео интервью)

[ну почти интервью]Ventham and Timothy Carlton. In one scene, Sherlock unceremoniously shoos them from the room when Watson arrives.

Working with his parents was "terrific. Sort of like home, really. Alarmingly so, for those who know our relationship off screen," he jokes. "It was a beautiful thing. ... It was the first day of shooting and I was nervous for them. And then I realized, now I really have to take control of this, and I just started to kind of make sure that they felt all right. And they ended up having a really good day."

He credits his parents and actors they introduced him to for his desire to pursue the same career, but there "wasn't one Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment of inspiration. It was just an accumulation, really."

That has led to an accumulation of significant roles, too, for the London-born actor.

Cumberbatch, 37, finished work in December on The Imitation Game, an upcoming film in which he plays real-life British mathematician and World War II code breaker Alan Turing.

He plans to take on another real Brit, the explorer Percy Fawcett, in The Lost City of Z, a film about "this rather brilliant, rather lovely Victorian man who just became obsessed with this discovery he made in the Amazon jungle" in the early 20th Century. The melancholy Dane, Hamlet, is on the actor's schedule for fall on the London stage.

And Sunny March, the production company he started with friends just produced a short film that he appears in, Little Favour.

Cumberbatch, seen here with co-star Martin Freeman, disagrees with critics who think the show has gotten too far away from Sir Conan Arthur Doyle's work. "It really is Sherlock Holmes. I think people who really love the stories can see that. There's a great deal of reverence for the original."(Photo: Robert Viglasky, © Hartswood Films)
All of this comes on the heels of a remarkable year. Since May, he has appeared on the big screen in five major films, including an Oscar best-picture nominee,12 Years a Slave; an ensemble piece earning praise for its cast, August: Osage County; a lead role as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate; and two blockbuster sequels, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It can be difficult, even for a man of Cumberbatch's quick intelligence, to remember every detail.

"Five films come out and they're so different. From Khan (Trek) to Smaug to Julian Assange to Ford (Slave) to …," he says, pausing. "You see, this is the problem. I actually then start forgetting what the other role was. (Another pause.) To Little Charles in August: Osage County. And that's when it is literally an embarrassment of riches."

He credits Sherlock, which premiered in 2010, with providing a big career boost, but says he was landing roles for 2011 productions — War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on film and Frankenstein at the Royal National Theater in England — at about the same time with major directors who hadn't seen him play the iconic sleuth.

Sherlock has "done a lot. I won't say it's changed my life, because I had a huge break at the same time as this role first came to fruition," says Cumberbatch, substituting a sleek blue suit for Sherlock's layered look on this warm winter day. "It was a sort of perfect storm of all mediums coming together at the same time, television, film and theater, even some radio."

Cumberbatch has a rare star quality that makes viewers root for the often difficult Holmes, Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat says.

"I think he's capable of being aloof and dangerous and (being able to) do, with complete honesty, every beat of unlikable behavior, and yet you still like him," he says. "The other thing you have to say is he's one of the best actors alive. He's absolutely supreme."

During an interview earlier in the day with a gathering of TV critics, Cumberbatch expresses appreciation for the accompanying fame, as exhibited by a group of fans outside the hotel who had waited for hours to see him. Asked an open-ended question about his reaction to the rise in public interest in the later interview, he responds, "Detached amusement," and focuses on press criticism. Stories have focused on matters as varied as his blue-chip schooling to a photograph in which he held a sign directing paparazzi to cover more important events in Egypt.

"Sometimes, they go after you and they really try to make you hurt, and that's when you've got to have a thick skin and just let it brush off you. I've spoken to people in more exalted positions than mine and they're like, 'Dude, it's just Champagne problems,' " he says.

He talks expansively and thoughtfully about his career and fame, but draws the line on certain topics. He declines to answer a question about rumors he will reunite with Trek director J.J. Abrams for the next Star Wars film, which is scheduled to begin shooting in May, and he won't elaborate on the "personal goals" he mentions for 2014. "They're personal. Not for publication."

The actor, who is single, also brushes off a question about whether he's dating anyone in particular, but politely cushions his response. "I know you have to ask."

He responds to questions with equanimity, although he thinks a query about whether he's excited to play Hamlet, the central character in what is arguably Shakespeare's greatest play is a bit obvious. ("Very excited. I don't know what other answer there would be to that question," he says, then feigns a lack of interest. "No, I'm really not that bothered.")

He expresses displeasure only when an interviewer mentions that the late Turing received a royal pardon recently for 1950s criminal charges of gross indecency related to homosexuality. "The only person that should be pardoning anybody is him. Hopefully, the film will bring to the fore what an extraordinary human being he was and how appalling (his treatment by the government was). It's a really shameful, disgraceful part of our history," he says of his Imitation Game character.

Although a fourth season of Sherlock has not been officially approved, Cumberbatch has verbally committed to it and says he sees room for character growth. "I'll keep doing it as long as that's the case, as long as I feel he's developing and there's stuff we're all being challenged by and that it's being loyal to the original stories as well."

When the third season opens, Cumberbatch says Sherlock has regressed socially and emotionally after having been off neutralizing archnemesis Moriarty's network of evildoers in the two years since his staged suicide at the end of Season 2. His return draws the ire of sidekick John Watson (Martin Freeman), who had thought his friend was dead. (The Season 3 opener drew 4 million viewers, up 25% from the second-season premiere, and Sunday's second episode attracted 2.9 million viewers.)

Freeman "raised my game. That's all important when you're doing a piece that's about a relationship as well as this particularly brilliant mind," he says, before going off on a humorous detour. "He's got good taste in clothes and music, which helps. He's got good hygiene. That always helps. He can be quite grumpy, which doesn't always help. I can be quite grumpy, which always helps."

Sherlock evolves this season, Cumberbatch says, serving as best man at John's wedding to Mary (Amanda Abbington) in last week's episode and facing off Sunday against malicious, data-hoarding publisher Charles Augustus Magnussen. "He's this media mogul who wields his leverage by using information — as people do, as newspapers do, as all media does — to control a message, to control a perception of the world."

The series explores the effects of childhood on the adult Sherlock, partly through his competition with his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss).

"He wasn't born to be an antisocial, difficult boy," he says. "I think he's trying to keep up with Mycroft's intelligence and it skewed the normal trajectory of childhood play and friendships in order to try and perfect this brain, this ability to retain information."

Cumberbatch says he wanted a Sherlock backstory so he could understand and convey how this man came to be.

"It will just be hollow gestures and running around speaking very fast — which, while some of our harshest critics have said that's what I do, I beg to differ, especially after ... this season. They can see there's some acting going on, some craft going on. That's important to me," says Cumberbatch, veering off before returning to his main point. "You can't just be brilliant in a vacuum. ... It would be like, 'Wow! This guy is really on it,' but then you'd want to know something about him."

With so many film, TV and stage roles done in such a short time, Cumberbatch has had to do more than just speak quickly.

"I found it difficult to get the sort of hyperarticulacy of Sherlock back having played Assange, and I found it sort of weirdly difficult to let go of Sherlock before starting Alan Turing," he says. "I practice very hard to sort of cleanse myself of every role after I've done it."

For all the recent high-profile film roles, an earlier miniseries character, 1920s Englishman Christopher Tietjens of Parade's End, inspires him the most.

"He's just sort of unfathomably generous and patient and yet really quietly courageous. He doesn't suffer hypocrisy or fools gladly. He doesn't betray himself or his ideals for any quick fixes. He's just a good human being," he says. "I've got a very big affection for that man. If I can live a life half as good as his, I will know I have done alright."

Лу Брили о том, как сломали её твиттер, о поцелуе с Камбербэтчем и о себе

The Herald Magazine cover story: Louise Brealey

Two weeks ago, Louise Brealey was on a train coming up to Glasgow to begin rehearsals in the title role of Miss Julie at the city's Citizens Theatre.

Sitting opposite the quietly dynamic actor was a young woman who, without warning, asked her what it was like kissing Benedict Cumberbatch. The woman was referring to the famous scene in the first episode of the third series of Sherlock, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's 21st-century reboot of Arthur Conan Doyle's seminal detective stories.

[интервью]In the programme, Brealey plays mousily put-upon pathologist Molly Hooper, whose massive crush on Sherlock, played by Cumberbatch as a dashingly dysfunctional sociopath, has slowly captured viewers' imaginations. With Sherlock apparently returning from the dead in this series, one of a myriad of possible explanations for his resurrection saw Cumberbatch crash heroically through the windows of Molly's St Bart's Hospital lab and fall into her arms for an almighty snog destined to become one of the programme's defining moments.

Brealey's response to her interrogator was blase, although she admitted she "looked shifty" on her Twitter account, which at the time had 64,000 followers. Once the final episode had aired, that figure had almost doubled to more than 125,000.

Brealey is sitting in the Citz foyer on a break from rehearsals of Zinnie Harris's 1920s-set version of August Strindberg's play. Dressed in a green shirt worn over a long-sleeved grey vest and jeans, and with her long brown hair tied back (although it doesn't stop her fidgeting with it), Brealey ponders the response to both the kiss and a scene in the final episode when Molly thumped Sherlock after he was found in a drug den.

"My Twitter basically broke," Brealey laughs, "and I kept on having to reboot it, because I think in the end there was something like 7000 people tweeting me asking about the slap that I delivered to Benedict's lovely face at the beginning of the episode."

After the similar reaction to the kiss, Brealey should maybe have expected it.

"Obviously everyone adores Benedict," she says, "and it was such a James Bond-y moment, but I was standing on a crash-mat, so was slightly unstable. In one take I actually fell off the crash-mat. I slowly slid off like Del-Boy at the bar.

"But you don't often get to do fantasy shots like that. In the sсript it was just a James Bond-style clinch, but I wanted it to be a proper snog and not a peck. In one take Benedict did the hair ruffle to get the glass out, and in the next take he didn't do it, and I was like, 'Put the ruffle back in. It's really hot!' It looks good, though, doesn't it?"

Brealey isn't showing off when she says this. Rather, her tone is one of utter fan-girl glee, albeit a fan-girl who got to do what most of the show's female fans would like to do. Several times at that.

"Within a minute-and-a-half of that kiss I had something like 6000 new followers on Twitter," she says, "and I had thousands of tweets that night. One of the reasons Molly works is that women who love or fancy Benedict can quite easily imagine themselves as her. So, of course, when he snogged her, they all just …" She pauses. "… lost it. It was such a collective …" - she squeaks to illustrate - "because no-one was expecting it."

While Brealey seems bemused by the attention, there's a sense of responsibility too for a fan-base she defends fiercely.

"I don't think of fans as geeks," she says, "and I don't think of being a geek as a negative, because I'm a geek. I've got quite a lot of young women following me on Twitter, and it's great to be able to have a dialogue with them. I'm a feminist, so it's great to be able to prattle on about feminist things. Bizarrely, I suddenly find myself a role model for some of these girls. At first it was hilarious, thinking 'how can I be a role model?', which sounded like a terrifying prospect.

"They occasionally ask something to do with sexual politics, and I can say, you know, you don't have to shave your hair off if you don't want to. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. Just be your own woman.

"I don't want to come over all po-faced, because ultimately Sherlock is just entertainment, but if I can, I want to try to set a good example."

Brealey, 34, hunches into herself as she talks, keeping her arms wrapped in tight. Navigating her way through an idea, she scrunches her face up, her voice dropping to an almost inaudible level, only to whirl around and offset everything with a dirty giggle that's almost a yelp.

This mix of a shy but steely intelligence punctured by extrovert flashes may have something to do with Brealey's training. She studied both at the Lee Strasberg Institute, the spiritual home of method acting in New York, as well as with master French clown, Philippe Gaulier. This followed a history degree at Cambridge, where she studiously avoided the university drama set.

"I played football and drank," she says. "I went for one audition and panicked in the queue, and literally crawled out of the church they were auditioning in. I ducked down and walked out of the room like a strange frog. It was quite cliquey, all that, and I didn't have the confidence to feel like I could be part of it."

Brealey became an arts journalist, interviewing the likes of Liv Tyler and the Pet Shop Boys for Total Film, The Face and Wonderland, where she was deputy editor.

"I think quite a lot people get into careers right next to the one they really want to do," she says. "I'd always wanted to act, but I'd been too afraid to stick my neck out and risk failing. Then I decided I didn't want to end up being 40 and wishing I'd done it."

Brealey's first professional job was playing a gobby 14-year-old girl in Judy Upton's play, Sliding With Suzanne, directed by Max Stafford-Clark. A couple of years in Casualty as trainee nurse Roxanne Bird followed, as did the role of Judy Smallweed in the BBC's 2005 adaptation of Charles Dickens's Bleak House. She then toured the US and Russia in Dennis Kelly's play After The End, played Sonya in Peter Hall's production of Uncle Vanya, and appeared at the Traverse in Edinburgh in Simon Stephens's post 7/7 play, Pornography. She was the mayor's sex-mad daughter in The Government Inspector, and in 2012 performed naked as Helen of Troy in The Trojan Women.

Brealey isn't sure where the initial impetus to act came from, although, she says, "I think I must have got some love and attention as a small person by doing some acting, and it lodged itself in my subconscious.

"When I was a little girl, about eight, I auditioned for the school play. They were doing Snow White, and I auditioned for the Wicked Witch, and then the teacher asked if I'd like to play Snow White. I responded by asking who was playing Prince Charming."

Such precociousness has clearly held Brealey in good stead for Sherlock, although recent suggestions by a tabloid newspaper of the programme having "left-wing bias" passed Brealey by. Once informed about the reports, however, she makes her views plain.

"Good," she says. "I'm a socialist, so I'm quite happy if it does, especially when you've got rampant Tory propaganda like [Channel 4's] Benefits Street going on. But honestly," she laughs, "I don't know where they could have spotted that. It wasn't something I spotted, but that would be marvellous. I would be proud to be involved in a left-wing drama."

Miss Julie may not quite be that, but Strindberg's sexual cat and mouse game between an aristocratic young woman and the male servant she grew up with is certainly getting there.

"It's one of the great parts written for a woman," Brealey says. "Zinnie's focused on the sexual politics of the play, and we're looking at what happens when boundaries are transgressed, and the things that hold society together are broken. It's about these two people who have this thing between them, and negotiating what that is.

"If you are friends with someone and have sex with them, can it ever be the same again?

"It's set on midsummer as well, which is difficult to imagine in the middle of January, so there's that whole sense of opening a shirt, and your hair's all damp at the nape of your neck, so I'll be wearing a lot of thermals to give my little body the impression of warmth."

Beyond such hidden layers, Brealey is still finding her way into Julie.

"She's unconventional is the short answer," Brealey says. "I really haven't worked out who she is yet, and I don't like to put too much down beforehand, because otherwise you end up closing down possibilities.

"I'm a feminist," she says again, "and it's interesting reading Strindberg's preface to the play, where he talks about Julie as a half-woman, a man-hater and a degenerate, as a type that can't survive in the real world, because they will always come up against failure when it comes to trying to be equal. But you have to remember just how shocking the play was for its time. These people in the play are talking about sex. They have sex."

As an actor, Brealey doesn't take anything for granted. Despite the Sherlock factor, she's aware of the fickleness of her profession. After the first series of Sherlock, she ended up as a researcher for TV documentaries, and created The Charles Dickens Show, a mock chat-show in which Dickens's characters appeared on the daytime sofa.

"It suited my magpie brain," she says, "but acting is my first love, and it's a jealous lover at that. You can't just leave it. I've been lucky, but you have to be incredibly careful about thinking that acting makes you happy, because acting doesn't make you happy. Nothing makes you happy, actually. You've got to try to make yourself happy. Now I've learned that it makes it easier. When the phone doesn't ring, if you let that make you feel unwanted, then you are on a hiding to nowhere.

"I'm happy just to work with nice people. Of course, you want to work with people who make your mind light up, and who push and challenge you and make your work better. That's a given. But I don't want to work with brilliant w*****s. Life's too short."

Last year Brealey wrote a play, Pope Joan, for the National Youth Theatre, about the legend of the ninth-century female pontiff.

"I'm so glad I did it," she says, "but it cost me a lot. It was very exposing, and there wasn't enough time to write it, but I learned a very valuable lesson."

Taking her clothes off as Helen of Troy was even more exposing.

"It was amazing to do that," she says, "because I don't run round in the nuddy as a rule. You're only six or seven feet from the nearest person, and you're going, 'Look at me - I'm beautiful' and you've got your bum out."

Playing Sonya in Uncle Vanya was another learning curve.

"I would play her again in a heartbeat," she says. "I think that part really made me a stage actress. I learned so much from that job, but in a way, in terms of unrequited love, Molly is sort a mini TV Sonya."

Ah, Molly again. "Molly's opened up all sorts of doors for me, but I've been offered about 10 secretaries who are in love with their boss, and I've turned stuff down. After Molly I need to play someone who's a complete gun-toting megalomaniac."

"It's funny, isn't it," she says, "about ambition, because it's a dirty word, especially for women, but I just want to learn. The thing about acting, and it's hard to say without sounding like a tit, but with the best jobs, you learn to be a better person as well as a better actor." n

под дождем

Марк Гэтисс взял интервью у Мартина Фримана


Sherlock: Mark Gatiss interviews Martin Freeman

Martin Freeman is a clotheshorse. I don’t mean you should put him in front of your gran’s fire and watch steam come off him (although you could if you wanted to). No, he’s looking as trim and dapper as the Sherlock team have come to expect as we take a little time out from the Radio Times photoshoot to discuss his return to the role of Dr John Watson.

[интервью]By common consent he’s brilliant in the part, and won a Bafta for his performance in the first series. With two new episodes in the can, he’s just returned from New Zealand doing two months of final work on The Hobbit before we all reconvene for episode three. He’s understandably tired: “I always am around this time in the series. I think the schedules on this show are quite brutal – The Hobbit is a doddle, actually, comparatively. So yeah, I’m quite tired, but I have to say I’m enjoying it. I have to say I’m enjoying it,” he laughs. “It’s contractual!”

When Steven Moffat and I came up with the idea of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, it was crucial to us that the series be regarded as a co-lead. It’s called Sherlock, but the great detective’s enduring friendship with his Boswell is the beating heart that has kept the stories so popular for more than 120 years. Although Benedict Cumberbatch was our first and only choice for Sherlock Holmes, finding his Watson was a slightly more involved process.

“I was sent the script,” remembers Martin. “When I was told there was going to be an updated Sherlock Holmes, I thought, ‘That could be risky, but it’s going to be Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, so OK – show it to me!’ So I went in for it. But it’s probably fair to say I wasn’t in the best frame of mind...”

Martin’s wallet had been stolen on the way there. “Had it really? I’d forgotten that. I’ll admit maybe I was a bit stressed. But a week later my agent rang and said, ‘Listen, this Sherlock thing, they’re sort of under the impression you weren’t that into it.’ And I said ‘Oh... I am really interested. Please call them and let them know that I am interested. I wasn’t being blasé about it at all. I just wasn’t on my best day. So I came in again, read with Benedict and it instantly worked, it seemed to me. I always liked Ben’s work. I thought he was a fantastic actor and there was something about our rhythms, similarities and differences that meant that it just happened.”

After that second meeting, Steven, producer Sue Vertue and I knew we had the show. But having secured the part, did Martin come with any preconceived ideas of Dr Watson? “I’d never read any Arthur Conan Doyle then – though obviously I knew who he was. Basil Rathbone was my man, because in the late 70s and 80s his films would be on BBC2 at six o’clock, so for people of my age, and even people of your advanced age, Mark, he seemed to be the one.”

Nigel Bruce’s delightfully buffoonish Watson casts a very long shadow, of course. How does Martin feel about that? “He’s just so great in those films! They both are. But I knew that wasn’t where we were going to be heading.”

I sometimes think, though, that in striving to get as far away as possible from Nigel Bruce, the result can be just a dull Watson. What Martin shares with Bruce (and with Colin Blakely in Billy Wilder’s 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes – the influence on our Sherlock) is that he’s an immensely gifted straight actor who’s also funny. Very funny.

“As an actor, you know there are things you get asked to do that you do quite well, with less effort. Although there’s an inherent light-heartedness to Sherlock, I slightly err towards not doing the comedy.” Martin is especially good at interrogating a script, and dispensing with superfluous lines that he can achieve with a sardonic glance. His initial reaction to Sherlock’s return in the new series is a masterclass in understated emotion.

“Sometimes,” he laughs, “I realise even when I think I’m being dead straight, I look back and still think I’m mugging! But what I love about our John Watson is that even though there is humour in him, it’s a straight part, and it’s a straight programme. No one is a buffoon in it, and what I really like about it is that it’s writing for grown-ups, where you’re not having to cheat the audience. I’m purely trying to play this part the way I approach everything, which is to be truthful. I was trying to make Watson a feasible soldier, a feasible doctor. I wanted to give him a strength and a vulnerability.”

We’ve seen Dr Watson go from psychologically damaged war hero to Baker Street adventurer. So how does Martin think John has changed over the three series? “Well, just as in the writing, you don’t want to keep doing the same thing. I can’t still be going, ‘How do you do it, Sherlock?’ John can’t be as flabbergasted 600 times a day as he was at the beginning. So even though he thinks Sherlock’s cleverness is astonishing, we have to find different ways of showing that.

“With this new series, he’s also fallen in love. He thought his best friend was dead. There’s definitely a sort of light that goes out when you lose somebody you love, but now his life has moved on. He’s in a real grown-up relationship, which he needed to be. So I think that we join John in a way a bit sadder because he lost a friend, a very good friend, but in a way more content, actually.”

But can John Watson the ex-soldier ever really leave the battlefield? “He misses Afghanistan and the camaraderie of war service. We explored that a lot right at the beginning of the series. So he’s come back to peacetime London and the nearest thing he can get to that old rush is being with Sherlock and fighting crimes day in day out. Between us we have all made John a sort of adrenaline junkie. I think it’s so common.

“Please God, I’ll never be in a war zone, but everything I sort of know about people who come back is that it’s a hard transition to make. I mean, even if you’ve not been in a war, even if you’ve just been in the Forces, you come back and probably have more fights in civilian life.”

Martin’s real-life partner, the wonderful actress Amanda Abbington joins the Sherlock team as Mary Morstan. Fans of Doyle’s stories will know what a significant part Mary plays in John’s life and it’s no spoiler to say she’s about to become Mrs Watson! So with new love and Sherlock back in his life, where would Martin like to see John Watson go in the future?

“I’d just like him to keep being 3D, you know, in what is a very heightened world. And I like John’s independence. I enjoy the times where he gets to be separate. But I also know the thing is predicated on what happens between John and Sherlock. It was amazing how quickly the show took off and became a sort of staple bedrock of telly. I remember after it went out, everyone was saying, ‘I love that Sherlock Holmes.’ The loudest, friendliest and most enthusiastic part of our fanbase seems to be teenage girls between college and university age, but that surprised me, actually. The people I’d been hanging around with who loved it were older than that. It’s an extremely broad audience and that’s really satisfying. What more could you want?”

Foreign filming? “Yes, abroad! I’d definitely love that, as Rupert Graves said in episode one when we were standing in two inches of freezing water on the coldest January since records began. We were just fantasising about where future episodes could be. Murder in a Palace? The Adventure of the Dry Room? The Sunshine Killings?”

Benedict Cumberbatch: You're never read an interview like this

[Интервью GQ]

By Stuart McGurk | 16 December 13

Over the course of three hours GQ spent with Benedict Cumberbatch for this month’s cover story everyone’s favourite consulting detective divulged a great deal that didn’t make the final cut. Topics included his thoughts on filming the third series on location in London, auditioning for Madonna, working with JJ Abrams and his deeply peculiar interactions with Julian Assange. To mark his first GQ cover, here we publish for the first time Bendict Cumberbatch’s thoughts on 24 key topics that you won’t find in the edition out now on newsstands.

On filming Sherlock

“When you do Sherlock in London, it becomes street theatre. When we’re in Gower St, it’s barmy. A massive element of our day is crowd control. It’s weird, you go out onto the street and you actually get this bubble of performance anxiety like you do if you’re going on stage. It’s really hard. I mean if I went like that [makes hand signal], then a load of people would laugh, someone would say, ‘What did he do?’ Then they’d review it on their phones, post it, and put it on the internet as me dancing on the top of a hedgehog to Michel Jackson or whatever it is they fancy doing that day. It’s kind of weird. Me and Martin end up finishing the day double exhausted because we’re trying to do a job at the same time.

Before, I’ve just gone up and said, ‘Look, this is kind of our office, you’ve got to respect that. It’s a public space, you have every right to be here, and we f***ing love the fact you’re this keen on it. It’s amazing and we love you a lot, and yet at the same time we need to keep doing what we’re doing. We have to keep making the programme, making it good, so we’ve got something we can be proud of. I know you can understand that [so], if you haven’t been here before, please just be quiet while we’re taping, take your rubbish with you, and they’re like, ‘We will!’ For the most part it’s not needed, they’re very, very intelligent, engaged people. But yes, normally, you raise an eyebrow and it causes a ripple of applause.”

On making the cover of Time magazine

“I completely f***ing forget it was a cover, I just thought it was going to be a story inside. And I was honored by being one of the very few actors who get a profile inside of the magazine. When it came out literally thought it was a mock up that a fan had done: I thought, ‘That’s not my hand!’ So when I found out it was a reality I was genuinely floored. Floored in the same way I just sat on the sofa with one of my boyhood heroes [Harrison Ford], and he said to me, ‘I love what you do’. I just thought ‘Wow!’ I mean, two speechless moments, incredible moments.”

On wanting to be an actor

“I think, going into it, I had self-belief in my talent. I think you have to have a certain amount of confidence, just because you have to risk failure. Obviously there was a lean into that with mum and dad, and [then it] became a thing of, is this a career choice I’m really going to make? Am I going to aim my sights for this? I knew the pitfalls were and the realities of it. So I just thought, I have to do this. But I wanted further education, I wanted to kind of have that maturation before I started acting because I felt that … I don’t know really. Except that I genuinely wanted to carry on learning and being with friends. And also, frankly, maybe I wasn’t good enough at the time. I’ve read about me where it says I ‘toyed with’ being a lawyer – I mean, you don’t ‘toy’ with being a lawyer, you think very seriously about it, and I don’t think I was smart enough. And I didn’t really try in the end, so it’s kind of a closed book on that, but people often say ‘Maybe you just weren’t smart enough’. Well, you know, the friends I have who are lawyers are incredibly smart.”

On working with his idol, Gary Oldman, on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

“I really treat every job as if it’s the first time I’ve worked, otherwise I would be paralysed with fear. Like, otherwise, going onto a set with Gary Oldman, I couldn’t do it. You have to normalize that by becoming a co-worker. I mean, I remember Tom [Hardy] being really, really intimidated by Gary when he first met him, and I think I probably was too – I think he was in a corridor, and he was quite silent. He’s actually quite shy Gary. He just looked me up and down in silence, and I just didn’t quite know what to say. Little did I know the man was harbouring huge fears about the shoes he was going to step into. And I just thought he was sizing me up! But he wasn’t!”

On not being on Twitter

“I DO sleep, unlike James Franco, and I know lots of other people who are busier than me, and they’re just better at being concise. And while that would be a good exercise, I would much rather put my energies into other things to be honest. And that’s no disrespect for the people who are on Twitter, I’ve just said from the beginning that social media is not where I’m at, with my job, it just isn’t. There’s a certain amount of me that likes to respect the idea that my work is public but my life isn’t. You’re really asking for an awkward bleed if you’re talking about who you’ve just seen, and where you’ve just met them. But who knows, maybe I’ll decide it’s a game I’d like to play? At the moment I’m just really enjoying the space I’ve got in the public, which is through my work, and this is an extraordinary year.”

On 12 Years A Slave

“I saw a screening before Toronto [film festival], because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make the screening at the festival, but also I wanted to see it away from an audience, and let the impact of the film play out on me. Because I’m only playing a small role in it, I knew I could do that at a first viewing, and when you’re a lead or a role bigger than the one I’ve got in it, you just get in the way of being immersed in the film. But the way this evolves it wasn’t too distracting. I watched it, and I couldn’t look anywhere afterwards. When I was walking through Soho, everything was on mute, and I looked at every bit of Georgian or Victorian architecture, it just grabbed me, every brick looked complicit. The phone in my hand that I was trying to type some congratulations to Chiwetel [Ejiofor] and Steven [McQueen], I could only think that the elements in these chips, the logos everywhere, the stark multinational logos. [Slavery] still exists, it’s worse than ever. There are different forms of slavery, there’s debt slavery, where people are born into a situation that even though they work and earn money they’ll never get out of debt; there’s child labour, there’s child soldiers, there’s … just the f***ing thing goes on and on, you know. I mean, sex trafficking! All of that. And [in Soho] it was this gauche-rash-Friday-night-blargh-end-of-the-week-piss-up atmosphere, and I couldn’t hear any of that, it was all on mute. It was f***ing extraordinary film. I really do think it’s a modern classic. It’s a masterpiece.”

On Julian Assange leaking their email exchange

“Yes, the emails came out, not the whole exchange, but he was very courteous about it. He asked if I minded him publishing it and to be honest, I knew I was writing to a publisher, so I was very aware that my responses and my emails might get published. And he’s been very respectful about that. He wrote to me where he expressed his concerns very clearly and it’s a powerful argument. And I wrote back a response, which I didn’t publish in response to him publishing his argument, and at some stage in these email he wrote ‘To Your Eyes Only’. I said, ‘Look, Julian, you know, this is as far I am concerned a gentleman’s agreement that this goes no further. It’s not for publication. Unless you want to, and you’re a publisher, but I’d love to have that gentleman’s agreement.’ So, gentlemanly, he came to me and said, “Do you mind?” And I said, ‘Well, no of course, and what does it matter if I do?’ You have to do what you have to do, I understand why you want to get traction on this and get your voice heard about a project that you think is pretty damaging to you. I mean, I think he’s smart enough to realise this is not all about me, it’s really not.”

On his Oscar chances playing Assange

“I mean, I think so, but then I never really held out for this, I’m just thankful that it has positioned me as someone who is capable of doing that kind of a role. And whether the film has a big box office or not, it’s still the response of how I have performed as him has done me huge favours. But really, who knows what might happen? Who knows? But from what I’ve seen and what I’ve read is coming out, the strength of performances … it’s a bumper f***ing crop of amazing films this year, it’s really exciting.”

On his inquisitive nature

“I mean I’m certainly inquisitive, and I have better attention now than I did. I think I’m better at focusing my learning now. I love that about what I do about my job too. But also the position of access if gives you for incredible minds and incredible opportunity. It’s fascinating. And to be able to have conversations with other artists in other mediums as well. To understand what their concerns. So I feel more galvanized with my learning now that I used to do. You know, I hold my hands up, people say you didn’t go to Oxbridge, and it wasn’t because I wasn’t bright enough, it might have been that though. I don’t know, maybe I should test myself! Or, maybe not, maybe my IQ is 70 or something! But I’m definitely curious, I’m eager to learn, I always have been.”

On George Clooney

“It was great talking to a man like him. I really do think he wears it so well, his fame, so, so well, and while every one of us has our detractors, while one man’s elixir is another man’s poison, no-one is everyone’s favourite, I think there is a pretty universal respect for what he does both as a humanitarian and as an actor. And he is very good at wearing his fame, he’s so courteous. There’s none of that, ‘Urgh, here we go, I’m going to put on a mask now’, it’s just, ‘Hi, hey, I’m George’, and you don’t see the cracks of, ‘Pffff, I hate this, these people are in my face’. I think that’s because genuinely he realises we’re very f***ing lucky. And he uses his fame for such potent and great causes.”

On living in London

"I am really lucky to be in London. You come out of your front door and you have everything. And it’s not the case in America so much. There’s a big film industry in LA and a big film industry in New York, but the business of film is pretty much predominantly in LA. And I saw James do that, I saw McAvoy do that, he’s letting the work to come to him, and I thought great. I really admire people like Matthew Rhys and others who by hard graft got their breaks and are now taking it, but I don’t think I have the stomach for that, for literally sitting by the pool reading script after script and signing up for five years for a pilot and not knowing what it’s going to be like. And London feeds me culturally - I go to galleries, to music, to films, and everything else, as well as the broad and varied canvases of work I get to do. And there’s nowhere else in the world that really has that. You know, I’ll go and work in LA for months on end, of course I will, and doing Star Trek out there was amazing, playing the bad guy in the biggest film at the time, working in the studio with JJ and that cast was thrilling. A dream. I love that in London, that you have so much on your doorstep, I mean I take the Tube, I go around on my bike, you can achieve a certain anonymity and be famous here. I mean, on the tube, rush hour is fine, because literally you can’t even see the person next to you."

On holding papers to camera on the Sherlock set

"Ok, well, the first instance was more, this is ridiculous guys, I’m going on set in heavy disguise because I don’t want people to speculate about the state of make up I’ve got on and what I’m wearing, because I want that to be revealed to people enjoying it on a Sunday night in a couple of months’ time, rather than internet gossip, and they’re still trying to get long lens shots! So it was just, you know, go take a more practical photograph of something that’s more important that some actor going to set! And it wasn’t to lecture my audience, or beat down on celebrity culture, there’s every reason why the high-minded can exist with pop culture. And I get that, I get that as much as the next person, I get why my life is a source of intrigue. And it’s an immovable obstacle, and you’re screaming in the wind and it’s stupid if you don’t accept that. And it was literally on my television before I came out, the day of the riots, in square in the summer. It wasn’t about political posturing, it was purely a message to that photographer, saying, dude, don’t waste your time. And the other one, again, it was just at the time it had happened with [David] Miranda [the partner of then Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald] being detained at the airport and hard drives being destroyed at the Guardian, and it really worried me. It’s a complex argument, and all I wanted to do was ask the question - I had the media audience on my back, and it was just a case of what do you think of this?"

On appearing on David Letterman

"I was so nervous, I was so tired, and he’s so legendary, he is a master at it. The producers asked me my name, but yet he was like, ‘Next up, Ben-Er-Dick-Cum-Ber… Batch. Whoever the f*** that is. After this break. In a minute. Let’s talk about Iguanas wearing a hat!’, then, ‘What is this, Star Wars? Star Trek?’ And I was trying, God knows I’ve done it enough times. And [after they played the clip of Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness], he was like, ‘Wow!’ That was very nice. It was incredible. And all the producers laughed about it. It was a genuine reaction [from him]. They said to me he just doesn’t say that, it was genuine. It’s normally, ah, looks great buddy, good luck. They said they hadn’t seen a reaction like that [from him] for years."

On Downton Abbey

"Well, not that I was ever offered [a role], but I mean, I think in certain circumstances I think I certainly would have done it. It hasn’t hurt Dan Stevens. And Dan had done great work before that. Downton is a populist vehicle, which is great."

On wine

"That’s something I do like to spend a bit of money on. I do like to go a bit above the good £15 bottle in a newsagent, there’s nothing better. I don’t like more than really a glass, but if I’ve got friends over I will spend more on a bottle, like £40 or £50 for something really special, possibly, more, but not like, hey, look at my really expensive bottle of wine. It’s just such a pleasure but it’s something I have to share with other people. I’m not a solitary drinker, I never have been, and if I do that with a good bottle of wine I end up throwing half of it away. And I’ve done that once, and I don’t want to do it again. I’m not one of those people who thinks, oh, it’s there, I’ll just drink it! I just can’t. I don’t enjoy that sensation, I like being fit enough to read a book or do my work or see a film or just … and it’s not to say I don’t let loose, but not on my own."

On auditioning for Madonna’s W. E.

"It was extraordinary. I was literally in the middle of previewing After the Dance, I think we’d done our second preview, so half of my mind was on that, and in the process of it went on a bit, and James [D’Arcy] was already there, as was the lovely Natalie Dormer, and when I went through into the room [at Madonna’s London house], there were cameras, and this is not a story to tell at her expense, because she is extraordinary, but it was such an odd situation. My usual experience of auditions is that you do things in front of a camera and you send off a tape, or you get the opportunity to speak to someone in a room, to talk though, the process, it’s collaborative, and that’s always the preference. And that’s what this was, but she wanted to operate the camera too! She was really stressed out because she was trying to figure out people’s availability at the same time, she brought her producers’ hat on. And brought all of that in a really guileless lovely way, but it was kind of extraordinary and a bit discombobulating to the usual Brit actor dong an audition, because she was learning her craft, she’s not a seasoned director. She walked in and went, ‘Ahh, you actors are such a f***ng nightmare, the scheduling is just impossible!’

Then she said, ‘Ooh, yeah, you’re the one with the strange name!’ And I think I said something along the lines of, ‘Yes, I am, Madonna.’ And she then smiled wryly. Which was quite amusing. We did the audition, it was in a beautifully floored gym area in her house, and she was setting the cameras and lighting up, really setting it up into a proper scenario, quite full-on for an audition, and part of me was saying this is not good, and she was setting up this shot, and it involved moving a mirror. And she went, ‘F***, my floor! Uhm, you need to meet in the middle… and …’. And so I just said, “Look, you’re going to tell is where our frame is, we’re going to cross over - it was about him and the brother meeting in the hall way and having an argument - and so we did it, and she said, ‘You’ve done this before’, and I said, ‘Huh, yeah, maybe I have!”

On performing the Sherlock monologues

"You read the scripts, and you go ‘Great!’ And then you go, ‘Oh no’. Because it is really hard. I think my process has improved, but when I get behind it is a mess. I mean, when it’s the sweet spot, it’s the wonderful thing, but you pull it off about once or twice in a about five takes. It’s really hard. It’s really hard to be slightly ahead [goes into Sherlock monologue speed] because-you’re-literally-speaking-at-the-speed-of-thought-and-you-can’t-think-what-you’re-going-to-say-next-and-I’m-trying-to-do-it-now-and-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-going-to-say-next-look-at-that-over-here, and yet this really isn’t random association, it’s really specific. And then just the performance of it, and not because it’s a struggle, because the writers when they pull it off there’s a sparkle in it. It’s hell, but it’s very satisfying to get right. But you know sometimes, I drop the ball and it’s hard. I’m not lazy, I work very hard, but I’m not a quick learner. It’s like we were talking about being clever, that’s another reason I guess. It just takes me a long time. It’s amazing when it just feels like air, when it just feels easy to do and you can just play with the nuance of it, and I hit a couple of those sweet spots, which is where you’re completely involved in what you’re doing and you believe in it, and you can move in any direction of it, and you’re not in fear of the pattern being broken."

On Tom Hardy

"Tom is like an incredible factory, he’s like a hungry puppy, he sort of sucks the oxygen into his flame, and sometimes it doesn’t leave you much room to manoeuvre but we became such good friends on that shoot [for Stuart: A Life Backwards], because it suited the dynamic, because I was very much in thrall to the spectacle of this human being, that was the dynamic. I mean, I’ve never worked with Daniel [Day-Lewis], but I imagine you can’t talk to him about his process while he’s in the middle of it. And Tom, very much the opposite, he shoots the breeze, comes out of character, then snaps back into character. And people talk about him being a method actor - I don’t know what that means any more, he’s just really good!"

On women wanting to sleep with him

"You know. George [Clooney] was talking to me and he said, ‘Oh God, all these stories coming up! You know, it’s so much about projection.’ And that’s why I am happy about it, because to me it’s not just about the way I look, it’s about some appropriation of the work and what I carry with me."

On Stefan Moffat saying he’s ‘two degrees to the left of handsome’

"Yeah, yes! And he’s absolutely right! And I’ve never really been able to trade off my looks before. And that’s the other thing about this discussion of whether I’m a leading man, it’s situational. If you prove your actions are heroic, or as a character, you are a leading man, it doesn’t matter whether you look like a movie star.

It’s almost extraordinary that Sherlock is attractive, just because, however dangerous, and however much you may come under his criticism and rejection, and it’s quite a powerful presence to be in, and women are attracted to that…and I get it. I mean, they all want to fix Sherlock! And with James [McAvoy], you know, women just want to go up and hug him, , you know, ooh! You know, the boy dying of cancer whose birthday it could have been! I think it can also be a great incumbent, when beautiful people try to get taken seriously as actors, it’s a f***ing struggle. I think wherever we’re at, we’re always looking at the other angle. I think it’s very important for the long game not to think about this kind of shit. Because otherwise you’re like, oh no, I’ve got frown lines on my forehead! You know, who cares? The only time I care is if I’m being younger for a character, like I had it the other day with [Alan] Turing, and I thought, okay, this is a period where he’s 25, and it’s when you first see him in the film, and there’s a long journey he goes on, it’s tragic and beautiful and disturbing and amazing, and to get that right you have to have something at the beginning where you have this person who is younger than me, ten years younger, and that’s the only time. In normal life, I don’t give a monkey’s arse if I’m going a bit wrinkly or have been described as going a bit grey of having receding hair. Or whatever the f*** it is that people write in gossip columns. You know, it can go on forever. You know, I don’t look at Humphrey Bogart and think, “you look old”. I think he looks like an actor. I remember with George Clooney there was some controversy with Michael Clayton. The studio was having a bit of a whine because he wasn’t shot from particularly flattering angles!”

On meeting his fans

"I’ve had a very peculiar reaction, it was at the stage door and I think this girl had come from either China or South Korea, and she started to go green and shake and started sobbing, and I just went up and said, look, this is quite strange for me, because I understand in a way, because I’m still an audience member, I still watch people and get dumbstruck when I meet them in person, but what you have to do to really enjoy what you’re about. And then I sort of tried to shake her hand, and she sort of went, ARGH! Just fear and anxiety and not being able to manage the reaction. You know, I am just human, I walk amongst you! You know, we share the same circumstances, we’re born and we die."

On Star Wars

"Urgh! I mean, I think everyone is talking about it apart from JJ and me! Look, I mean, maybe when there’s a script we’ll know for certain, but from what I understand the heroes are really, really young, so that’s late teens early twenties, and then I don’t know, maybe there’s a baddie in there? But I think both JJ and I realise we’ve just done that with another massive sci-fi film, so that obviously hinders things a bit. I mean, there’s a possibility, of course there is, and JJ knows how much I would love to be a part of it, simply because, more than Star Trek, it really was something I grew up with. It does make me want to do it even more as well [that people want him to do it]. I don’t know. It would be terribly disappointing I suppose if I didn’t, but I completely understand what the reasoning might be, which is that this is too close to what we’ve already done, and what it is that I could do in this film. I mean, JJ and I are yet to have that discussion and I don’t even know how many of them he is developing at the one time. I’m pretty sure he’s working up one part of three and the spin-off films, there’s a shit load more."

On landing the role of Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness

"I remember with Khan I only found out about it three weeks before I was on set. I remember I was in a Cineworld in Cardiff, and Mark Gatiss [Sherlock co-creator] was like ‘OH MY GOD!’ I’m not a trekkie, I didn’t know … and not for a second did he go, ‘You’re not the right ethnicity!’"

On Star Trek fans voting Into Darkness the worst Trek film of all time

"I was really proud of my work in that film and I was really proud of that film. I think it’s had serious political impact and themes that are subtly nuanced and interwoven, and yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Critics and those who have seen it are really appreciative of the work I’ve done, and I can’t battle expectations, I can’t say that it’s right or wrong, whether it’s the worst Star Trek of all time according to the convention in Las Vegas. They were scrabbling for microphones to deplore it and JJ Abrams. I was just thrilled to paint a real really rich bad guy, a complex bad guy, in such an intelligent franchise. I don’t know. Anyway, that’s not to infuriate fans who hate me or it or Khan in the timeline or having him under disguise. I think because of the alternative timeline they feel they’re being cheated out of the real Star Trek. I’m not a Trekkie, and so I don’t have a place to say this, and I really would stress that if you’re going to include this…. of course he’s moving away from the traditional view of Star Trek, but at the same time there’s a lot of the original in this story, and maybe I can see why Star Trek fans feel it was glib, just a reversal, it was Spock trying to save Kirk." Read Stuart McGurk’s full interview with Benedict Cumberbatch in the January 2014 issue of GQ, out now.

And for more from Cumberbatch…

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