Benedict Cumberbatch Describes His Strung-Out Audition Process For Star Trek 2
Benedict Cumberbatch is smart enough not to tell you any details about his character in Star Trek 2, to the point that he calls him the "not-so-good guy" and won't even tell us the dude's name. But talking to The New York Times he was willing to tell the slightly oddball story of how he got cast, which required shooting an audition video over the Christmas holiday, using an iPhone to record the audition, and filming the whole thing in his friend's kitchen in the middle of the night.
The process of getting to that point involves him avoiding name-dropping in a way that actually kind of sounds like name-dropping-- "I won’t mention their names, they’re quite well known friends, a director and a very brilliant actress"-- but the actual audition itself sounds like some combination of hilarious and terrifying, and J.J. Abrams's eventual response to the video is fairly priceless. Here are those bits of the story:
And so I ended up squatting in their kitchen, at about 11 o’clock at night. I was pretty strung out, so that went into the performance. And his wife, Alice, bless her, with two children asleep – they’ve got enough on their plate without this actor in a crisis in their kitchen — and she’s balancing two chairs to get the right angle on me and desk lamps bouncing light off bits of paper, just trying desperately to make it look half-decent. Because it’s going to go into J.J. Abrams’s iPad. So we did it, and then it took a day and a half to compress it. I sent it to him, and then I got told, “J.J.’s on holiday.”
As we know, of course, he did in fact have the part-- and the fact that Abrams tells an actor he's in by asking if he wants to come and play makes the whole thing sound like a delightful adventure, not a multi-million dollar movie shoot that's got to be difficult as hell sometimes.
If you want more Cumberbatch where that came from, there's a more thorough profile here at the Times. But no, it contains no more details about Star Trek. J.J. Abrams and his killer drones are way too quick and ruthless to let anything like that slip.
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