Sunday 17 November 2019

It's not Hamlet but it's lovely playing Q, says Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw reprises his role as Q in Spectre (Ian West/PA Wire)
Ben Whishaw reprises his role as Q in Spectre (Ian West/PA Wire)

Appearing in a James Bond film may not be the same as playing Hamlet, but "you wouldn't want everything to be Hamlet", says one of the stars of the latest 007 film.

Ben Whishaw reprises his role as Q, who designs Bond's life-saving gadgets, in Spectre, which opens on Monday.

The 35-year-old, who has played a number of major Shakespearean roles including a well-received Hamlet on stage in 2004, agreed with an interviewer in The Independent's magazine Radar that playing Q is hardly Hamlet.

"It's not, but not everything can be Hamlet and you wouldn't want everything to be Hamlet," he says.

"It's hard not to enjoy the excitement that it generates in people. Nothing else I've done has generated that much anticipation. And it's really been lovely because it's unusual to return to work with the same group of people on a different film."

Meanwhile it has emerged that the actor's paternal grandfather was a multilingual British spy who was planted inside the German army during the Second World War.

The Daily Telegraph tells how Jean Stellmacher, who was born in 1922 in Istanbul to a Russian mother and German father, was called up by the German army while at university in Istanbul.

After telling a tutor of his horror at the idea of fighting for Hitler, he was introduced to a contact at the British Embassy who was attached to the intelligence services. Stellmacher, who spoke seven languages, is said to have passed information to the British about plans for the German invasion of North Africa. In 1942 he escaped across the German lines and turned himself over to the British in Cairo.

The actor told the newspaper: "His real name, and obviously mine, would be Stellmacher. But he was no more going to be in the British Army with a German name at that time, than he was going to come to England with one after the war."

The exploits of Stellmacher, who chose the name John Victor Whishaw, have been collected in a book, Piercing the Waves, by Stellmacher's daughter, Ingrid, which will be published next year, the newspaper said.

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