Friday 21 July 2017

Cumberbatch: Turing needs honour

Benedict Cumberbatch greets fans at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the Toronto International Film Festival
Benedict Cumberbatch greets fans at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the Toronto International Film Festival

Benedict Cumberbatch has said recognition of Alan Turing has been "too little too late".

The Sherlock star said it meant a great deal to him to be honouring the late mathematician who helped save his country by cracking the Enigma code during World War II only to be persecuted for his sexuality. And Benedict feels there is still a lesson to be learned from his story.

The British actor plays Turing in new film The Imitation Game, which has premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Turing was convicted for indecency after pleading guilty to committing acts of homosexuality in 1952. He was then subjected to female hormone injections designed to reduce his libido and committed suicide in 1954 aged just 41. He was given a posthumous royal pardon only in 2013.

Benedict revealed on the red carpet: "I did [feel pressure telling his story] but I worked really hard to try and honour his legacy.

"It's hugely important to me because I think he has been remarkably overlooked. There has been recognition of him in the last few years with pardons - in my opinion too little too late.

"The only person who should be doing any pardoning is him towards the people who treated him in such a manner.

"In the last year of his life he stood for hundreds of thousands of gay men who also received the same treatment at the hands of a government that offered them a choice between two years of incarceration or two years oestrogen injection, it's unthinkable.

"And yet this isn't a history lesson. This is sadly something that's going on now with repression of minorities and scapegoating in Russia, we saw it in Greece with the Golden Dawn and other places in the Middle East right now.

"Hopefully that's part of what we're saying, it's not sadly something that has disappeared with his story."

The Hobbit star spent a long time signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans on the red carpet - which he said was the best part of the festival.

He said: "This is a fan-led festival so why not celebrate that by reaching out and having an actual conversation and interaction with them. Some of them have stayed here for ages and waited for a long, long time to get a glimpse of us.

"So much of the time we're held up in hotel rooms, but they're the people who buy a ticket and see your work and they're the people I want to see the film. So if it's a way of saying thank you, it's enjoyable."

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