Okaaay, now that i’ve posted the full interview, I’m gonna hand this blog back to its rightful owner! Bye-bye, it’s been fun! :)
Part 4 aka the last part is here :
Q : Was Star Trek a meaningful part of your childhood?
A : Not always. I knew it and understood every generation, and saw a couple of the films. But I never was an obsessive fan and I never felt any feeling of possession about anything, not even a football club. I never followed anything, never bought any T-shirt.
Q : How much geek gene that you have in you?
A : Not much. I’m very simple. My style is more modern rustic than gadget-oriented. Clearly I’m a fan of the rebooted Star Trek because I loved the moment when everyone got together in the first film. When I was little I liked The A-Team and Airwolf…I liked Knight Rider then Baywatch, but I was never obsessed.
Q : But you understand the nature of people who are hard-core fans of anything?
A : I totally understand. I just don’t have it because I didn’t have a big focus on anything in my life. I want to be able to move between one world and the other. But I understand it - it’s like having a team, becoming a supporter, going through obstacles and the good times and the bad, is quite similar to a sense of possession in a clan.
Q : Have you ever followed the speculation on the internet or saw your face imposed on Ricardo Montalban’s body?
A : No! I mean, yes, I’ve seen them, but I didn’t look for it. Maybe when I was in make-up someone will say “Look at that!”. It’s a part of the pleasure of going in this world. The fans have knowledge, pride and possession in this world. I know I’m entering a beloved realm, but for me it’s more about pleasing the person who trusted me to take this part. So if I give a bad performance, it’s JJ’s fault for giving me his trust! (laughs).
Q : Your parents are also actors, so did you spend a lot of time backstage when they were working on stage?
A : A decent amount of time. But they were trying to distance me from all of it and told me that being backstage can get a little boring eventually, even if I didn’t think so. They didn’t want me to get involved much or be enthusiastic like, unfortunately, what I do and feel now. So I used to spend a lot of time there. I watched them perform a lot. I remembered my mother was talking with a stage manager backstage, and there was an open door so the light from the stage and I could hear the conversation. I remembered standing on stage with a role my godmother gave me when she worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I was some sort of a spear carrier - I was 5 or 6 at the time, and there was quite big smile on my face while standing in the darkness and thinking “Wow!”. That maybe a romantic version of how I got into acting. Actually, my parents provided me with an upper class education by working really hard. They weren’t rich, and I also tried to use my education to work on something other than acting. That was their intention by giving me an education like that, so that I could be a lawyer, architect or doctor.
Q : They didn’t want you to become an actor?
A : Well, no. They wanted me to be an architect, doctor, lawyer. (laughs). Anything but acting, because they know the difficulty of living the life they do everyday - work that moves from place to place, no control on social life, and you don’t know where another job comes from. They wanted me to be free of it all, but I felt the pull and I kept acting in school and in university.
Q : Now, with your role in Star Trek Into Darkness, are you not afraid that people will see you as a villain?
A : No. I just played a man named Little Charles in a film called August : Osage County, and he was a 37-year-old man who lived above his parents’ garage, his life was messed up and he fell in love with his cousin and everything was chaos. He’s a fragile and sensitive man. Fortunately, if you look at my roles so far, not everything is villain. Sherlock, for instance, is an anti-hero. He stands on the side of the angels but can’t see himself as being on of them, but he wasn’t a villain. So no, I don’t feel like that.
Okay folks, that’s the end of the interview. Please keep in mind that English isn’t my first language, so there’s bound to be some weird translation. I’m sorry if you find anything wrong with it. Thank you so much for reading!
Part 3 is here :
Q : You didn’t mind with those exercises?
A : That was an amazing experience, because by exercising your blood is full of oxygen in your system, and this increased quick-thinking on set. This sense of kinship that JJ created on set felt amazing, but when you were a new guy there who also played an outsider, it was very hard to get into. There was this special energy amongst them, and they’ve known each other from the first film and had become close friends, whilst I was trying to establish a character, an outsider. But they were very supportive and every time they saw me anxious they would try their hardest to convince me. I was afraid because this role is huge for me. My confidence grew after that, after I felt that I can trust my intuition. When I got there, I had to resist the temptation to keep having fun with them, and to focus on where and when I had to distance myself from them.
Q : So you joined an ensemble cast who are also great friends…
A : They’re amazing. I know this sounds like an actor’s bullshit, but it truly is rare that you can find a film of this scale with so many polite people in it. JJ really knew how to build group dynamic and it paid off in the result.
Q : Was that close to Steven Spielberg’s approach?
A : Yes. And just like Spielberg, JJ’s name is above the title, because he’s the star. So we can get into his world and embodied his vision. He picked the people who fit the roles, and that made a relaxing situation. The group is balanced and that’s very rare in this industry. What’s interesting is that we were at a similar age and point of our careers and very close with each other, so the experience is delightful. We tried to do our jobs well and there were no ego, no arrogance - everything is about the job. There’s debate among the characters, but there wasn’t play of status.
Q : What was your feeling when you first entered the Enterprise set for the first time ?
A : Amazing. The first time I came on set, I saw inside the Bridge - I was in outer space and looked within. Of course there were a lot of green screen in that scene. But after the take is done, JJ said “Come on, come look inside the Bridge!” And JJ took me inside and the set was very amazing and riveting. All of a sudden I was the biggest Star Trek fan ever existed! (laughs). When you become a part of it all, you can get a little obsessed. Then I was walking around the corridors linking the various areas of the Enterprise, and they were so beautiful. You’re reminded of various spaceships that you’ve ever seen on various movies, and that triggered a lot of association, but it stays unique as is JJ’s signature on this franchise. Every set that we came to were very phenomenal. JJ was also so enthusiastic- his reaction was truly pure, not fake. He really looked so vibrant of it all. He surrounded himself with fantastic arts from every department - make-up, costume, design. And he asked, as long as budget allows, that the spaceship was built as close to the real thing as possible. So a lot of the parts of this film weren’t green screen, but they’re live action. That was fun, like riding in a playground.
Q : How did it feel when you saw the completed scene that you filmed in front of the green screen?
A : It was also marvelous because there were a lot of things missing that day when we (filmed) it, so we had to imagine all of it and did it whole-heartedly, and it was amazing. The only fear that came up was that they created something truly wonderful that you hoped “..that my acting isn’t weird because I didn’t think I would turn out like this”. But I think everything was appropriate for the film. You know, some people seemed to fear that this would be a pure sci-fi film, but this isn’t true. This is an action thriller, with comedy and romance and all the big action and entertainment that you hope for in a big movie. This film also has drama on its characters, and it all happened thanks to JJ. He knew how to combine character development with entertainment - this is the key to his success.
Q : This film is made in 3D. What is your opinion about this?
A : I think people will look back to this age as the golden age of cinema, especially because of the rise of 3D and IMAX, which brought the experience in watching a film to a whole new level. A lot of great artists worked in today’s time. People always looked back to the golden age of Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s, but now those films are still being produced. Furthermore, we have the new technology that people like JJ mastered. There are rooms for a bigger canvas in the cinematic art, and this time is a breakthrough moment.
Q : Going back to your physical side, what kind of stunt did you have to do?
A : Well, a couple of things that we had to do included a scene where we were pulled into the air in a rate of 96 km/hour through a cord and struck down to the floor again. We did a lot of jumping while tied to a wire. In one scene, my character jumped from a bridge.
Q : And you still enjoyed all of it?
A : Very fun. I liked it - as much as I was allowed to do. Maybe I had to give a shout out to a stuntman, Martin de Boer, who you’ll see a lot more now. He’s a great actor and also a reliable stuntman. In fact, maybe he’s soon going to steal my roles! He did a lot of things that they said I couldn’t do. Of course, because I’m healthy physically and mentally, I still wanted to do a lot more.
Last part coming soon!
Here goes the second part of Benedict’s interview :
Q : So what did you do?
A : So i called my best friend, whose son is my godson, and asked him for help. He said “Okay, just come by..”, so I went back to London and arrived at 10 pm, and we worked on it in his kitchen for 3 hours for 2 takes. And his kids were sleeping on the back. I was in his kitchen, using a table lamp as a spotlight on the right level, which meant that I had to crouch and recorded these scenes. I didn’t have the finished script, but JJ had told me of the storyline. My friend’s wife (a set designer) had to balance the camera in between two chairs to get the right angle, but we did manage to get something….then we needed another day just to get the file ready (laughs). I sent my best (audition) to JJ.
Q : Had you managed to meet JJ Abrams then?
A : Not yet. Damon (Lindelof, writer and producer of STID) was the one who watched Sherlock and told JJ that he thought I was perfect for this role.
Q : What made you interested in this Star Trek sequel?
A : Because of the first installment, which I thought was incredible. I wasn’t a hard-core fan of Star Trek, so I went into this project like JJ, because he also wasn’t a hard-core fan of Trek. I enjoyed the first film, and had seen a couple of his TV shows and films. But I did see JJ’s first Star Trek, which was the origin story, and I was enthusiastic, especially for someone not obsessed with Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the others. That film was so cool and I thought Eric Bana (who played Nero in 2009’s Star Trek) was brilliant and hard to recognize in that role. He was amazing and impressive. For me, it was a tough job to follow his footsteps. I’m very flattered to be offered to be the next Star Trek villain…
Q : You seem to really like the 2009’s Star Trek…
A : I thought that there were a lot of humor, action and great story there, and every characters are three-dimensional. I was crying in the first five minutes, and 10 minutes later I was laughing so hard. Chris (Pine) was truly mesmerizing as Kirk. The script, the entertainment and especially the great acting and how JJ reshaped the idea of this franchise worked. That’s why I was so interested. When they asked me to audition, my agent’s jaw dropped to the ground and was as enthusiastic as a kid in a candy store. (My agent) said, “you have to record it, now!" So I did the audition then. Approximately 5 days later, JJ sent an email that said "do you want to come here and play?" I didn’t even have to think of the answer! Only then did I get the full script, but I had already trusted JJ’s tastes from the first film, so he only had to explain to me what he had planned for the second film.
Q : Your character, John Harrison, is very mysterious. So what can you say right now about him?
A : He’s a terrorist, not just an ordinary villain. He truly calculated his moves and is very smart. But he’s also a strong warrior, whether in hand-to-hand combat or through weaponry. We did work with fantastic fight choreographer, and I enjoyed that immensely. But even when he didn’t have to use his physical side, he’s still very dangerous.
Q : Is he motivated by politics?
A : In the context of the film, very much so. He’s fighting for a specific political ideology.
Q : So, can he be called a freedom fighter and not just a terrorist?
A : I think so.
Q : You said something about fight choreography. What kind of preparation that you had to do?
A : I consumed 4000 calories a day for a month and a half. Before then, I had to eat 5 times a day and that was probably enough, but in the last month and a half all of it had to be increased for a scene…that might be cut (laughs).
Q : Why?
A : I can’t say why now. But it was for a scene where my physical ability is shown. Unfortunately it might get cut because it didn’t fit the final editing. My trainer and I were heartbroken! (laughs). I really worked my ass off, literally, until I truly shaped my ass. Not that I had a big one, but it had to be firm. My chest size went from 38 to 42 inches in a month. And I liked all of it! (laughs).
End of part 2. Part 3 coming up!
Hello! This is the translation from Indonesian to English in full. English is not my first language, so please ignore any wonky translation! No repost please! :)
I’m gonna post this interview in 4 parts or more, simply because there’s so much material to translate! So here you go!
Part 1 of Total Film Indonesia’s interview
A scientist. A dragon. A spy. Whatever role he plays, he does so brilliantly. As one of England’s most talented actor today, Benedict Cumberbatch stole the viewers’ hearts with his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Now, he will captivate even more with his role as the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness. But according to him… “I don’t feel like a villain….”
Khaaaan! Khan? NO. John Harrison? Still questionable. You have to forgive us if even now we still haven’t bought that the name of the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch in JJ Abrams’ sci-fi film Star Trek Into Darkness, which is the sequel of the 2009’s Star Trek reboot, is called John Harrison. Keeping in mind that this is a film by the master of trickery like Abrams, we chose to be skeptic until we sit inside the cinema and watch this film ourselves.
Nevertheless, we never doubt the actor who played him. Cumberbatch, with talent in acting in his blood isn’t just any other actor. If he’s lusted after many women (and possibly men), we wouldn’t scratch our heads about it. His piercing cheekbones and eyes really captivated a lot of people….and who doesn’t like a man with a smart vocabulary, wit and charm? Despite this, the English actor, born in London in 19 July 1976, built his career by playing the roles of “annoying” men, like Patrick Watts on Starter for Ten or the sexually assaulting Paul Marshall on Atonement. Even now, his latest roles are predominantly of a villain variety, such as Angel Islington on BBC4 Extra’s recent radio play Neverwhere, Smaug the Dragonand the Necromancer on The Hobbit trilogy, and of course “John Harrison”.
When we first watched him in the BBC’s Sherlock, we were left in disbelief that the detective was played by the same actor who portrayed Stephen Hawking in 2004 biopic Hawking. The transition between the smart and sympathetic Hawking to the morally challenged and arrogant detective like Sherlock unveiled one thing. Even though he has a fan base as extensive as NATO’s armed forces, Cumberbatch has proven that he’s an actor of rich experience, impressive roles and charisma.
Watching Cumberbatch in action is a pleasant experience on its own. (Of special note is) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, in which (Cumberbatch) was Gary Oldman's right-hand man who beat up Tom Hardy and conversed with Colin Firth. His performance in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy left us full of praises for him, and John Harrison, or whatever his name is, will surely be his most entertaining performance since Sherlock Holmes. It is quite ironic that his parents, who are also actors (Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham), wanted their son to be a lawyer instead. What would cinema be without Benedict Cumberbatch? Come to think of it, the way he avoided spilling any Star Trek Into Darkness spoiler, we’re sure that he can be a successful lawyer….
Q : I’m sure that you’re under a non-disclosure agreement….
A : It’s rare, a little mysterious and a bit mythical. I think it’s so useful, because we live in a world where everything is out in the open and a market is full of those who screams the loudest and stands the tallest. I’m very grateful to JJ Abrams for his attempt to keep this secret. I understand that if people are frustrated, but secretly, I think most of us are relieved of (the secrecy).
Q : Is it true that you recorded your audition for Star Trek Into Darkness in an iPhone?
A : Yeah, it’s true (laughs). I recorded it during Christmas in 2011, but the show must go on, and in Hollywood people wanted to see this audition. The thing is, all casting directors that I know were not available during the (Christmas) holidays, and I said that I’ll have it ready by the 27th (of December), but then the technology around me started misbehaving - batteries were dead and camcoders weren’t doing their job - and I had no progress. I really wanted to do Star Trek, but I had just finished filming Parade’s End on the eve of the 23rd (of December), so I really only had 3 days of break and already I had to prepare for this big film after Christmas..