Benedict cumberbatch

I’m taking in a Ukrainian

Delighted though we all are that Benedict Cumberbatch has decided to allow a Ukrainian family to live in one of his houses, did he have to trumpet this to the entire population of the country? Surely these sorts of decision are best kept to oneself, no? But then, they’re always doing it, the luvvies – proclaiming their saintliness in order to protect and advance the brand, one supposes. Benedict should know that there are more than 100,000 ordinary people in this country, people who have never received a Bafta, who have offered their homes to Ukrainian refugees and they don’t go bragging about it on national media. People such as

How crazy was Louis Wain?

Before Tom Kitten, before Felix the Cat, before Thomas ‘Tom’ Cat, Sylvester James Pussycat Sr, Top Cat and Fat Freddy’s Cat, there were the cats of Louis Wain. The Wain cat came in a variety of breeds and colours: black and white, tabby, marmalade, white and blue (sky blue rather than Persian). But it always had the same disconcerting look in its wide, glassy eyes with the dilated pupils. It looked bombed out of its tiny mind. The original Wain cat was a black-and-white kitten called Peter belonging to a young late-Victorian magazine illustrator and his sick wife. In 1884 the 24-year-old Louis Wain had married his sisters’ governess, Emily

Benedict Cumberbatch and the truth about method acting

What’s up with Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch? It’s rumoured that the pair refused to speak to each other on the set of their new movie, The Power of the Dog, because Cumberbatch had embraced ‘method acting’ and his character hated her character. To protect the truth of his interpretation, he deliberately snubbed his co-star throughout the shoot. Is that true? Something about it doesn’t feel right. Any thesp who follows ‘the method’ is likely to infuriate their colleagues. HBO’s hit series ‘Succession’ has generated rumours about Jeremy Strong who plays Kendall Roy. Strong, in the words of his fellow thesps, is ‘complicated’ to work with. He identifies so closely

When did traditional masculinity become toxic?

It’s hard for privileged white men to stay relevant in this age of identity politics but a number of fail-safe strategies have begun to emerge. Prince Harry and, to a lesser extent his older brother, have captured the mental health market by publicly discussing their issues. William’s school pal Eddie Redmayne, and pretty much the entire cast of the Harry Potter films, have spoken out in defence of the transgender community. Benedict Cumberbatch is going down the feminist route. Cumberbatch is calling time on ‘toxic masculinity’. Interviewed by Sky News ahead of the release of his latest film, a Netflix Western in which he plays the part of a rancher,

Benedict Cumberbatch is spectacular: The Power of the Dog reviewed

Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog could also be called The Power of Benedict Cumberbatch, as he’s so spectacular. He plays a ruggedly masculine cowboy with an inner life that isn’t written, but that we somehow still see. It is also clearly Campion’s best film since The Piano or my own favourite, An Angel at My Table (as for Bright Star, we said we’d never talk of it again — why did you even bring it up? We all have our off days). If Cumberbatch doesn’t win every award going, I’ll eat my hat, but probably not his ten-gallon one The film is based on the 1967 novel by

The best Cold War thriller I’ve seen that I fully understand: The Courier reviewed

The Courier is a Cold War spy thriller and the prospect of a Cold War spy thriller always makes my heart sink. There will be agents. There will be double agents and triple agents and maybe even quadruple agents. Is he working for our side while pretending to work for the Soviets as someone pretending to be working for us? After any Le Carré adaptation, for example, I also need debriefing in a wood-panelled room filled with cigarette smoke and there is still no saying I’ll emerge any the wiser. But The Courier isn’t like that. This is a damn good, explosively tense story that focuses on the friendship that

Gripping, immersive and powerful: 1917 reviewed

Sam Mendes’s 1917 is the first world war drama that this week won the Golden Globe for best film and also best director and there is no arguing with that, ha ha. In fact there has been plenty of arguing with that. Some critics say that it feels like a videogame. ‘Turns one of the most catastrophic episodes in modern times into an exercise in preening showmanship,’ says the New York Times. I don’t know what film they were watching. True, 1917 is formulaic — it’s your archetypal man-on-a-mission story — but it is also gripping, immersive and powerful. It isn’t the closest you will get to experiencing the Great

The imitation game

Imagine looking at a photo of a stranger and feeling in response, quite naturally, the sort of happy affection you might feel towards a spouse. Well, it’s weird. In July this year, when Benedict Cumberbatch was filming Channel 4’s upcoming Brexit film (Brexit: The Uncivil War) a friend sent me some photos by text message, tabloid snaps from the set. Benedict plays my husband Dominic Cummings, director of the Leave campaign, and the shots were long-lens and hazy: Ben/Dom pushing his son on a swing; Ben/Dom kissing his wife. The real son-of-Dom and I were halfway through our Rice Krispies when the photos came through and I remember how taken

Share in the community

The theatre, we are told, is increasingly becoming the domain of the privately educated. The Guardian has even claimed that the working-class actor is ‘a disappearing breed’, and it’s certainly true that public school-educated actors such as Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Damian Lewis (the list goes on) are rarely off our screens. But what’s the reason for it? Why are our independent schools so good at churning out Bafta- (or indeed Oscar)-winning actors and actresses? A large part of it comes down to the teaching and the facilities available. Most public schools offer a school theatre, as well as full-time drama teachers, theatre managers and so on. In

Sins of the father | 17 May 2018

Warning: if you haven’t seen it yet, the first episode of the much-anticipated Patrick Melrose (Sky Atlantic, Sunday) contains scenes of drug-taking. Further warning: it contains an awful lot of them. The series is adapted from the five justly celebrated autobiographical novels by Edward St Aubyn, which trace the long-term effects on Patrick of an upper-class childhood in which his psychotic father intersperses horrifying emotional cruelty with regular bouts of rape. By his early twenties, Patrick is a full-blown drug addict, and even when he marries and settles down, what he settles down to is mostly depression and alcoholism. All of which might make the books sound punishingly grim. In

Benedict Cumberbatch’s big Brexit challenge

Benedict Cumberbatch has a reputation as one of Britain’s finest actors. The Sherlock actor has won plaudits across the world. He is also politically engaged – previously ranting on-stage about the government’s response to the refugee crisis following a performance of Hamlet at the Barbican. According to the Daily Mail, Cumberbatch let it be known that he thought the government’s pledge to take 20,000 refugees was not enough, before — eloquently — concluding: ‘f— the politicians’. The comments led Mr S to ask: is Benedict Cumberbatch the new Russell Brand? So, is his next job his greatest challenge yet? Mr S only asks after the Guardian reports that Cumberbatch has been

Holmes spun

One of the few intelligent responses from the liberal-left to our radically altered political landscape was an essay published last year in the impeccably right-on Vox. It began: ‘There is a smug style in American liberalism …It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them.’ You could apply very much the same argument to Britain and, as evidence, you could cite the first episode in the new series of Sherlock. (Shitlock as I prefer to call it, in

Out – and not proud

‘Many people are mourning,’ said Sam West on a BBC panel show discussing the response of the arts world to Brexit. According to West’s figures, ‘96 per cent of those polled were for Remain. Collaboration and connection are our bread and butter.’ The atmosphere of bitterness and anger was palpable at the Edinburgh Festival. I spent four days immersed in comedy shows and I heard only one pro-Brexit gag. The excellent Geoff Norcott said he was puzzled to meet Remainers who told him the result had been swung by ‘thick’ Leave voters. ‘Thick?’ he said. ‘The Remain campaign waited until after 23 June to stage their street protest.’ Lloyd Evans

This luvvies’ letter warning against Brexit isn’t worth the paper it’s written on

Politicians from across the spectrum have had their say on Brexit. So, too, have various business leaders. Spy chiefs have spoken out. And even Ian Botham has chipped in to spell out his opinion on the EU referendum. So it was probably just a matter of time before the luvvies did the same. And today they’ve done just that: Jude Law, Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch are amongst some 300 actors and musicians who have backed the call for Britain to stay in the EU. In a letter, put together by Britain Stronger in Europe, they urged Britain not to become ‘an outsider shouting from the wings’. The letter goes

Michael Buerk takes a swipe at virtue-signalling luvvies: ‘there’s only so much of the Benedict worldview you can take’

In recent months, a number of luvvies have entered the public debate to give their take on what ‘must be done’ on a number of pressing issues. While Benedict Cumberbatch turned the air blue at the theatre with a ‘f— the politicians‘ rant over the refugee crisis, Emma Thompson recently waded in on the EU referendum by calling Britain a ‘cake-filled misery-laden grey old island‘. Now at last someone is speaking some sense on the issue. Writing in this week’s Radio Times, Michael Buerk, the BBC’s former South Africa correspondent during the end of apartheid, says he has had enough of luvvies — like Benedict and Emma — spouting their

Are theatre audiences getting out of hand?

Laurence Fox has this week joined an increasing band of actors hitting back at misbehaving audience members who seem to forget that they are in public rather than their own living room. He ramped up the drama by launching a foul-mouthed attack on a heckler before storming offstage during a live performance at a London theatre. During the play, The Patriotic Traitor at the Park Theatre, he was heard to say: ‘I won’t bother telling you the story because this cunt in the front row has ruined it for everybody.’ The audience member had been muttering and heckling during the play and apparently became so loud that, for Fox, it was impossible

Fashion faux pas

‘I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good-looking,’ said a pouty Derek Zoolander back in 2001. Well, apparently not. Because Zoolander 2, the long-awaited sequel to Ben Stiller’s cult hit undercutting the male-model industry, is a good-looking bore, a fashion faux pas where hot celebrities such as Kate Moss, Penélope Cruz and Kim Kardashian are parachuted in to make a relentlessly dreary script look good. Except they don’t. They can’t. What on earth was Stiller thinking? Or Owen Wilson, back here as the loveable frenemy Hansel. Or, for that matter, the endless parade of fashion and rock-star cameos? Anna Wintour, Justin Bieber, Sting.

Oxbridge colleges are drowning in celebrity appointments like Emma Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch

An Oxford College has done something really offensive, and it doesn’t involve a statue of a white supremacist. Lady Margaret Hall has appointed Benedict Cumberbatch as a visiting fellow. It gets worse. It has elected Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys and Emma Watson from the Harry Potter films to the same post. Why they didn’t go the whole hog and appoint Giles Fraser as college dean and Jamie Oliver as steward I don’t know. Oxbridge is gradually being drowned in celebrity appointments. The latest were the brainchild of one himself: former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who became Principal of Lady Margaret Hall last September. Besides him, Bridget Kendall

What fun it will be if Trump becomes president

I suppose spite and schadenfreude are thinnish reasons, intellectually, for wishing Donald Trump to become the next American president (and preferably with Sarah Palin, or someone similarly doolally, as veep). But they are also atavistically compelling reasons nonetheless. Think of the awful, awful people who would be outraged and offended. If you recall, 8 May last year was awash with the bitter tears of lefties who couldn’t believe the British people had been so stupid as to elect a Conservative government. There were the usual hilarious temper tantrums and hissy fits. Typical of these was an idiotic college lecturer called Rebecca Roache who loftily announced that she had gone through

Derren Brown tells Daily Mail hacks to commit suicide

Last year Benedict Cumberbatch came under fire for giving an impromptu expletive-filled rant on the government’s handling of the refugee crisis following a performance of Hamlet at the Barbican. While critics suggested that the theatre was not the right venue for the rant, at least Cumberbatch’s airing happened after the show had finished. Alas the same cannot be said for Derren Brown. Steerpike understands that the illusionist has a regular slot in his Miracle show where he shares his views on journalists who work for the Daily Mail. Disgruntled audience members — who have attended on different nights — were surprised to hear Brown say that Daily Mail hacks should commit suicide. What’s more, the charming mentalist adds that they need not