It should always be good news if the news is about Benedict Cumberbatch, but those who love him might not be quite as enthusiastic about this one–Deadline reports that Dreamworks is focusing on Cumberbatch for the role of Julian Assange in their movie about the WikiLeaks founder. Joel Kinnaman is supposedly their choice for Assange’s “former right-hand man Daniel Domscheit-Berg” (that’s how they describe him–I don’t know if he’s actually right handed). The film is based on the books “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy,” by David Leigh and Luke Harding, and” Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website,” written by Domscheit-Berg. Josh Singer wrote the script. Bill Condon may direct.
Assange is a polarizing figure–some see him as a crusader for truth who has shown the sordid underbelly of various governments by leaking classified documents on his website; others see him as a troublemaker who’s put lives at risk. The latter’s case is helped by the fact that Assange has been on the run from Swedish authorities who have been trying to extradite him to their country to face charges of sexually assaulting two women (and the US is after him just for leaking classified docs). That’s what I mean when I say Cumberbatch’s fans, who I believe prefer him in more romantic roles, might not like this one. They may not be interested in his stretching his acting muscles.
Jeremy Renner had previously been associated with the role; no word what went wrong with that. There are, however, two other Assange movies in development, at Universal, HBO, and from producer Megan Ellison. Oh, and there’s a documentary from Alex Gibney coming as well. Maybe Renner could narrate.
Cumberbatch has been busy–he’s playing Smaug (via voice and motion capture) in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (though he’s said he’ll be in the second movie much more) and a villain in “Star Trek Into Darkness.” He’ll also be seen in “August: Osage County” with Meryl Streep and Steve McQueen’s “Twelve Years a Slave.”