Bafta award-winning Parade’s End director Susanna White has called Benedict Cumberbatch “one of the finest actors of his generation” and admitted that “without him, Parade’s End would be nothing like it is.”
White is currently promoting the BBC period drama in the States ahead of its transmission on HBO, and opened up earlier this week about how lucky she was to secure the 36-year-old Sherlock star for the lead role of aristocrat Christopher Tietjens.
“There were less than a handful of actors who could have played that role,” White told Collider. “Christopher is so buttoned up and so self-enclosed, and yet you have to really care about his situation. I knew Benedict could do that.”
The 52-year-old director also admitted that she was grateful to find an actor capable of tackling the role, who looked nothing like the “fat ox” described in Ford Maddox Ford’s 1920s novels, which formed the basis of the drama.
“I wanted women to really fall in love with him, so it was important to find somebody who would be both attractive and who also could play the emotional layers and have the intelligence,” she said.
In fact, White revealed she’d been lucky to get Cumberbatch at all, explaining “we needed a level of casting, in order to secure the financing… [but by the time it came to shoot Parade’s End] Benedict’s career had taken off into the stratosphere and it wasn’t a question of whether he was going to have the profile, it was a question of whether we’d be lucky enough to secure him.”
Fortunately, Cumberbatch was keen and Parade’s End earned rave reviews in Britain when it aired in the UK back in August 2012.
Would it have done as well without the star in the lead? White thinks not: “I think Benedict is one of the finest actors of his generation,” she said. “And we were really lucky to get him because without him, Parade’s End would be nothing like it is.”