When movie mogul Harvey Weinstein paid out a record $7 million for the US rights to The Imitation Game, the film immediately emerged as an early Oscars 2015 frontrunner.
Based on just 20-minutes of preview footage, the Weinstein Company – the distributor behind plenty of awards fodder including The King’s Speech, The Artist and Silver Linings Playbook – coughed up big bucks for the biopic of computer scientist and Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing.
With Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role opposite Keira Knightley as Turing’s close friend and one-time fiancé, Joan Clarke, the film was already generating plenty of interest but now Weinstein has spoken out about the reasons behind his costly purchase.
“Alan Turing is not outwardly very sympathetic,” he told Deadline. “He’s brilliant, but the way that Benedict Cumberbatch played him showed us these guys found the right level of vulnerability, genius and the arrogance of the character, too.”
While it comes as no surprise that the Sherlock actor has put in a convincing performance, fans will remember that Cumberbatch won over critics last year with his portrayal of Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate – one of 2013’s biggest box office flops. But, fear not, Weinstein is also full of praise for the film itself and director Morten Tyldum:
“We felt after reading the script that you could get this wrong, from the tone to the casting. The reason we didn’t make it ourselves was, it felt like a near-impossible walk on a tightrope. Morten walked the tightrope.”
Filmed in the UK last autumn, The Imitation Game also stars Matthew Goode, Allen Leech and Rory Kinnear and is based on the life of Turing who played a key role in deciphering the Nazis’ Enigma code during the Second World War. The gifted cryptographer was subsequently prosecuted for homosexuality and committed suicide in 1954, eventually receiving a posthumous public apology from Gordon Brown in 2009.
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