News / Arts & Entertainment

Assange Slams Wikileaks Film in Letter to Actor Benedict Cumberbatch

FILE - Julian Assange speaks during a teleconference between London and Washington.
FILE - Julian Assange speaks during a teleconference between London and Washington.
Reuters
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange penned an open letter to British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrays Assange in an upcoming film, praising the actor's talents but slamming his involvement with the film and turning down the actor's invitation to meet in person.
 
Assange, who is currently holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, wrote a letter to Cumberbatch dated Jan. 15, 2013, that was published on Wednesday on the anti-secrecy website ahead of the Oct. 18 theatrical release of Walt Disney Co's DreamWorks film “The Fifth Estate”.
 
In the letter, Assange tells Cumberbatch he is “fond” of the actor's previous work, and adds “I think I would enjoy meeting you,” but urged the actor to drop his involvement in the film, saying “I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about.”
 
“I know the film intends to depict me and my work in a negative light. I believe it will distort events and subtract from public understanding. It does not seek to simplify, clarify or distil the truth, but rather it seeks to bury it. It will resurrect and amplify defamatory stories which were long ago shown to be false,” Assange wrote.
 
The enigmatic WikiLeaks founder turned down Cumberbatch's invitation to meet ahead of shooting for the film, citing his issues with the film's angle of his own story.
 
“I believe you are well-intentioned, but surely you can see why it is a bad idea for me to meet with you. By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give,” Assange said.
 
Assange also noted that “the bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant,” and that if Cumberbatch was to take the role, “we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined.”
 
A press release accompanying the letter on WikiLeaks on Wednesday said that Cumberbatch had replied to Assange with a “courteous and considered” email.
 
Cumberbatch, 37, plays the WikiLeaks founder as rude, awkward and unkempt in the film that chronicles the emergence of WikiLeaks, based in part on the 2011 book, “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website,” by Assange's once-trusted lieutenant Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
 
Ecuador has given Assange political asylum in its embassy in London, where he sought refuge in June 2012, but he faces immediate arrest and extradition to Sweden to face accusations of rape and sexual assault if he leaves the embassy.
 
Assange criticized the film's source material, saying, “It is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organization.”
 
At the film's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last month, director Bill Condon said “The Fifth Estate” was not a judgment about WikiLeaks or Assange, but rather a portrayal of the complex issues surrounding transparency, privacy and security.
 
“There is no takeaway or single right or wrong,” Condon told Reuters at the film's premiere. “I hope people walk away and go to dinner to talk about it.”
 
Cumberbatch also spoke to reporters in Toronto and said he was guessing Assange wouldn't like his portrayal in the film, even though the actor sees it as a celebration of the activist's achievements.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”