You’d be forgiven for drawing comparisons between Sherlock and Alan Turing. But Benedict Cumberbatch – the actor who plays them – is quick to shoot down the idea that the pair’s shared high IQ and social awkwardness mean they are one and the same.
“They’re utterly different people,” he explained today at a London press conference for The Imitation Game. “[Turing] doesn’t swish around in a coat with curly hair, demonstrating how brilliant he is. He’s very quiet, stoic, determined, different and definitely a hero.
“As far as the known similarity that he’s socially awkward, what you see is a whole evolution in him. It’s humanising and that happens, I suppose, in some aspects of what we do with Sherlock.
“I didn’t read the script and go, ‘Oh, this is Sherlock in tweed’. I like how uncompromising [Turing] was and I suppose that is a strong trait in strong characters… It’s a great honour to be asked to play somebody like him so the last thing I want to do is go, ‘well, he’s a bit like Sherlock, isn’t he?’ Because he’s not and you can’t begin to fathom what an individual is when you start calculating the similarities.”
Does he find the comparisons between the two roles frustrating? “I try and shake it up but I do see why people think two clever people might have similarities. I understand them. Yes, they’re frustrating but I do understand them. I too watch stuff.”
Cumberbatch also discussed the early Oscars buzz surrounding his performance which has been lauded by many critics as the role of his career. “If it gets people to see the film, frankly this is really all I care about. It’s very flattering of course, but there are a lot of other extraordinary films and performances. It’s a far way off but if it creates an interest for people to see this film and what all the fuss is about then that’s fantastic because our job as storytellers is made easier if there’s an audience.
“And more importantly for me, having had some experience with this extraordinary man, I really want his story to be known as broadly as possible and for our film to be a launching point for more interest and a proper celebration of Alan Turing.”
The Imitation Game has its UK premiere tonight at the London Film Festival before opening in UK cinemas on 14 November