The web’s legions of Cumberbabes (at least I think that’s the collective term they favour) are bound to be a bit miffed with long-dead author Ford Maddox Ford at the moment, because it’s due to the late novelist that their idol’s been fattening himself up.
Yes, thanks to Ford’s description of Parade’s End’s central character Christopher Tietjens as “fat,” the normally angular Benedict Cumberbatch apparently took to “force-feeding himself doughnuts” to put on weight in order to make his performance in tonight’s TV adaptation of the novel all the more authentic.
Parade’s End director Susanna White told the Daily Telegraph that while the actor was “tired, having just come off the set of Sherlock,” he nevertheless busied himself with pigging out during the making of the show in order to do justice to Ford’s source material.
Initially, however, Cumberbatch had wanted to rely on special effects to convey the impression of portliness for his role. He recently confessed to the Reader’s Digest: “When I first got asked to do it, I said: ‘I’m not blowing my own trumpet here but I’m quite thin in comparison.’
“At the beginning of filming I said, ‘I want a fat suit, I want to have plumpers’ and I had these prosthetics in my mouth to ‘cheek me out’ a little bit.”
But clearly his inner-De Niro ultimately prevailed and Cumberbatch embarked on a campaign of hearty gorging. Not that he seems to have minded all that much; after all, he said, it made a welcome change from his dietery regimen required for other roles.
“It’s also been nice being able to thrust food into my mouth,” he said. “It makes a change from the Sherlock days of, you know, one bean sprout.”