It should come as no surprise that fiercely independent WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was no fan of the idea for The Fifth Estate, the upcoming DreamWorks biopic about him and his endlessly controversial website. And while Assange wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea of Star Trek Into Darkness star Benedict Cumberbatch playing him, he still refused to meet with him to discuss the role out of fear their conversation would be seen as tacit endorsement of the “wretched” film and “the talented, but debauched, performance” Cumberbatch would ultimately give. (Debauched but still talented; sounds like someone’s a Sherlock fan.)
Assange communicated this decision to Cumberbatch via a letter which has now been reprinted on WikiLeaks. A notable excerpt:
“I think I would enjoy meeting you. The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant. If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.
But I must speak directly. I hope that you will take such directness as a mark of respect, and not as an unkindness. I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film. I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about.”
It’s an interesting document; it’s rare to see a subject of a biopic address their film at such length and with such open disdain. Among other accusations: Assange accuses feature films of being “the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion.” He also warns Cumberbatch that the goal of the film will be to create “a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth,” a phrase that suggests the ideal candidate to play him in a movie might have been Werner Herzog.