Benedict Cumberbatch made his first trip to Comic-Con on Thursday with DreamWorks Animation’s “Penguins of Madagascar,” and after leaving the shrieks of Hall H, he stopped to chat with Hero Complex.
Cumberbatch talked about the trick of playing the smartest guy in the room, from a modern detective in “Sherlock” to an animated wolf who runs an elite undercover interspecies task force in “Penguins of Madagascar” to World War II codebreaker Alan Turing in the upcoming drama “The Imitation Game.”
“I’ve been very, very fortunate so that it looks like there’s something going on behind my eyes that looks like I’m thinking about or understanding or encompassing the brilliance of their minds,” Cumberbatch said. “Brilliant people have private moments of self-doubt, which we can all relate to, but they also have these extraordinary moments of discovery”
In the midst of extreme fandom at Comic-Con, Cumberbatch also divulged some of his own obsessions as a fan – “Breaking Bad” and “True Detective” are personal favorites — and shared some details about an upcoming project he’s long dreamed about, playing “Hamlet” on the London stage next year.
“I’m of an age now where it’s now or never,” Cumberbatch said, of performing the Shakespearean tragedy. “If I can bring a new audience to it, that means a lot to me.”
Cumberbatch’s warm reception at Comic-Con came thanks in large part to fans of his BBC show, “Sherlock.” The actor had some thoughts to share about the classic detective’s enduring appeal.
“He’s not superhuman,” Cumberbatch said of Sherlock Holmes. “There’s no trickery to it. It’s something if you worked hard enough at, you could actually do yourself. He doesn’t fly around in a cape…. It’s about being smart, making decisions…. You get to see a guy who’s just slightly on the edge of being different, and he’s a hero for people who feel they are different or maybe slightly on the edge of society.” [x]
There are early moments in that long period of doing an animated film “where you kind of go kicking and screaming into the booth for the 350th time,” says Cumberbatch, 38.
"At first you think, ‘Why? This is such a waste of everybody’s time and effort and money,’ and actually it is genuinely really enjoyable. Soon you shed the schoolboy sulk dragging your satchel to school, and once you’re there, it’s great."
Malkovich also had issues at first as well as a little bit of a crisis of confidence after a multitude of takes.
"It got to the point where I’d kinda be like, ‘I’ve done now 87,000 variations of this line ‘Dave’ in 16 countries. Am I not good or is there something that’s not happening?’ " says the 60-year-old actor. "Sometimes that was frustrating, but mostly one is challenged by it.
"It’s a lot like a play, which is what Benedict grew up doing and what I grew up doing. You revisit the same thing over and over and over. But that’s only partially bad news."
Penguins executive producer Tom McGrath, who co-wrote the movie and stars as the birds’ military-ish leader Skipper, found that Cumberbatch and Malkovich’s theater background helped them find their new characters — in one case, through over-the-top means.
"When you see John Malkovich being an octopus behind the mike and he’s throwing his arms over his head and he’s allowed to be physical, it’s really funny," McGrath says. "That physicality is perfect for animation.""
Cumberbatch played many roles in the time he was perfecting his secret-agent wolf — including voicing Necromancer and Smaug the dragon in two The Hobbit movies, Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and famed British codebreaker Alan Turing in the upcoming The Imitation Game (out Nov. 21).
He thinks of it as a repertory ensemble of characters, though some have rubbed off on Classified.
"There’s a tinge of Sherlock in the sense he’s arrogant and he gets his comeuppance by having to admit he needs help," Cumberbatch says. "He’s a Bond figure who thinks he’s got it all sorted and it’s all about squaring everything away and looking cool. Sherlock has a bit of that — he’s not as much of a poseur as Agent Classified.
Benedict being interviewed at SDCC at 1:17
Even more footage of Benedict being interviewed at SDCC.
More footage of Benedict at SDCC
[1080p HD] Benedict Cumberbatch Interview - SDCC Official Panel 2014 - Penguins of Madagascar & Sherlock (34:56)
"Benedict Cumberbatch makes his first appearance at San Diego Comic Con to talk about his new role as Agent Classified in Penguins of Madagascar. Benedict Cumberbatch also answers questions from his fans and reveals he may return for the Sherlock panel in SDCC 2015."
It’s a special, extended podcast from San Diego Comic-con. After covering the Tomatometers for this week’s movies, Team Tomato shares interviews with Benedict Cumberbatch, Rob Letterman & Jack Black for ‘Goosebumps’, Ian Ziering & Tara Reid for ‘Sharknado 2’, Doug Jones, Orlando Jones, directors Jen & Sylvia Soska, Key & Peele, Peter Atencio, and Kaya Scodelario & Will Poulter for ‘Maze Runner.’
Short clip of Benedict about 6 minutes in.