Benedict Cumberbatch On 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,' His Gay Character
The brilliant crime solving star of BBC’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch co-stars alongside Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy and more in Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy. Based on the beloved novel by John le Carre, Cumberbatch plays Peter Guillam, an intelligence officer instructed to steal a logbook to further investigate the allegations of a mole in a senior position of the British intelligence.
Cumberbatch was born in London and has a diverse career as a theater actor as well as in movies and television. He began his acting career in school productions at Harrow, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in England. Afterwards he studied drama at The University of Manchester and continued his acting training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Between high school and university, Cumberbatch took a gap year to teach English in Tibet. Some of his most well known films include the role of Stephen Hawking in the BBC TV movie, Hawking, a part in Atonement with Keira Knightly, and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. Cumberbatch was named “Actor of the Year 2011” by British GQ.
For Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Cumberbatch found inspiration for his character from the original novel. “I think that the film is much a character study of male loneliness and a pretty devastating work place than anything else,” Cumberbatch told Uinterview exclusively.
- Q: Were you inspired at all by the 1979 TV movie version of 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' or by Alec Guinness' performance? - Uinterview
- A: No, no, on both accounts — I have a vague memory of it. But I think from repeats obviously because I was born three years before it was broadcast, so I didn’t have it either as instruction or something to refer to and I went back to the book and obviously the script and John le Carré himself for back story and research. So no, the figure of the brilliant Alec Guinness didn’t loom too large. That was not a problem for me.
- Q: Where did you get inspiration for your character? - Uinterview
- A: The book was hugely helpful, especially for backstory. In the film there’s this extraordinary blind trust [of Smiley] he displays. So, that was important to understand why that was there, that trust and loyalty to Smiley. But, no, mainly it was le Carré and the book and this fantastic script. Which I guess is a different cut from the same animal — it’s a different piece of the same body of work, but with a very, very, very different sort of outlook. Our film is much more about, well... The personalities and the clothes' world is all there, and the spy thriller element is definitely there. But I think that the film is much a character study of male loneliness and a pretty devastating work place than anything else.
- Q: How would you describe the gay undertones present in Guillam's character? - Uinterview
- A: So it’s interesting, Guillam on the front of it is very at ease with who he is, his visual look is very sort of dandified. He’s got a great blond bob, and fantastic Citroën DS car, and these fantastic beautiful clothes. It’s all going swimmingly, but that’s part of a personal armor that slowly steadily gets stripped away. You learn that an awful lot of it is a front for him and there’s a crisis both in his heart and his home life and in his mind by the time he goes through what he has to go through for Smiley that alters that perspective we see of him in the beginning being a bit of a Bond-esque glamor boy in this otherwise very Durer and sort of rainy spy world.
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