In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (out Friday), an adaptation of the much-beloved John le Carré novel of the same name, British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (TV's Sherlock) plays the suave and sophisticated Peter Guillam — a character he describes as "a [James] Bond-esque glamor boy in this otherwise very Dürer spy world." Readers of the novel who remember Guillam as decidedly heterosexual might be a little shocked by Cumberbatch's interpretation of the role.

In our exclusive interview, Cumberbatch, 35, revealed the nuances he brought to playing a Cold War spy whose secretive profession resonates with his closeted home life. "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 a fantastic Citroën DS car and these fantastic, beautiful clothes," Cumberbatch said of his character's stylishly airtight exterior.

But, as is often the case with men who try to hide their true identities, Guillam's perfectly fabricated lie starts to unravel at the seams. "It's all going swimmingly, but that's part of a personal armor that slowly, steadily gets stripped away and you learn that an awful lot of it is a front for him," Cumberbatch said, verging on spoiler territory. "And there is a crisis in his heart and in his home life and in his mind … that alters that perspective."

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