Back in January, when actor Benedict Cumberbatch was chosen to play Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the former reached out to the man he would be portraying. Assange’s reply was scathing, to say the least. Assange described the film “The Fifth Estate” as a “massive propaganda attack” and urged Cumberbatch to not take part in a film that “is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organisation.”
Ouch. Cumberbatch has been mum on his response to the letter, until a Reddit editor (called a redditor) asked the burning question during Cumberbatch’s Ask-Me-Anything session on the site on Saturday:
Julian Assange’s open letter to you criticizing “The Fifth Estate” is very intense. He even goes so far as to call you a “hired gun” for distorting the truth (or at least what he views as his truth). Did this affect the way you portrayed him or even make you second guess your role at all in this film?
“Yes…He accuses me of being a ‘hired gun’ as if I am an easily bought cypher for right wing propaganda,” Cumberbatch replied. “Not only do I NOT operate in a moral vacuum but this was not a pay day for me at all. I’ve worked far less hard for more financial reward. This project was important to me because of the integrity I wanted to bring to provocative difficult but ultimately timely and a truly important figure of our modern times.”
He concluded that “the film should provoke debate and not consensus. It should be enjoyable and ultimately empowering to realize that Julian has spearheaded a movement that is the foundation stone of The Fifth Estate, people journalism and what that is capable of including finding out the ‘truth’ for yourself.”
Read the full response and his other best Reddit answers here.