Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has explained how an audition recorded on his mobile phone landed him the role of the as-yet-unnamed villain in the upcoming Star Trek sequel (due for release in May next year).
The audition tape, which director JJ Abrams called “one of the most compelling audition readings I’d ever seen”, was the result of a frantic dash by Cumberbatch and his best friend, Adam, to film something they could email to the Star Trek helmsman just after Christmas.
“I couldn’t get any kind of recording device,” Cumberbatch told The New York Times. “I said, ‘I’m going to do it on my iPhone. It’s high quality, it’s HD. It will be fine.’ So I ended up squatting in [my friends’] kitchen, at about 11 o’clock at night. I was pretty strung out, so that went into the performance.”
And while Cumberbatch's friends provided a makeshift studio in their kitchen, the actor had to make sure not to wake their sleeping children...
“[My friend and his wife have] two children asleep - they’ve got enough on their plate without this actor in a crisis in their kitchen - and she’s balancing two chairs to get the right angle on me and desk lamps bouncing light off bits of paper, just trying desperately to make it look half decent. Because it’s going to go into JJ Abrams’ iPad."
"So we did it, and then it took a day and a half to compress it. I sent it to him, and then I got told, 'JJ’s on holiday'."
Cumberbatch admitted to having been "furious" at the news - but the feeling was short-lived: "The day after New Year’s Day... [JJ] just sent me an email, going, 'You want to come and play?'
"I said, 'What does this mean? Are you in town, you want to go for a drink? I’m English, you’ve got to be really straight with me on this. Have I got the part?'"