Benedict Cumberbatch is riding high on the awards campaign trail for The Imitation Game, a sturdy WWII biopic of code breaker Alan Turing, recruited by the British to help the government crack Enigma, a system the Germans used to pass messages to troops in the field. Many consider Cumberbatch to be a frontrunner in a very crowded Best Actor field (he’s high on our own Oscar charts), but the actor ALMOST did something in the movie that could have locked up the Oscar trophy. I’ll describe it underneath the trailer for the movie, because the conversation gets more than a little spoilery.
If you read up on the true-life story of Alan Turing, you will know that after the war – and his heroic efforts to tear apart Enigma – Turing was persecuted by the British government for being gay. Ostracized by his own country, Turing eventually committed suicide in 1954. The British government eventually issued a public apology in 2009 to Turing for "the appalling way he was treated." The Queen followed up with a posthumous pardon in 2013. Of course, it was too little too late. And Benedict Cumberbatch says that they filmed Turing’s suicide for inclusion in The Imitation Game, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
The actor explained to THR that they shot "a scene where the policeman comes into the house and discovers [Turing’s] body — the death scene, the suicide scene, and the solution of cyanide that's been drunken, some of the residue left on the bitten apple on the nightstand." The actor goes on to say that it "didn't feel right," and so director Morten Tyldum cut it off.
That doesn’t mean Cumberbatch doesn’t allude to Turing’s sad fate in the closing minutes of the movie. He says there’s a subtle yet deliberate nod to the man’s eventual suicide in the closing minutes, explaining:
He walks in the door frame and looks at the machine which is the embodiment of the love of his life, Christopher. He smiles, and in my mind, what I was saying was, 'I'm coming to see you now.' He turns off the light, walks into the darkness, and that's it. That's what you see. I thought [Tyldum] was spot-on in his judgment of that."
Is it enough to keep Benedict Cumberbatch in the Oscar conversation? It should be. His portrayal of the calculating mathematician brings a crackling energy to code breaking, and ensures that The Imitation Game remains one of the most compelling watches of the ongoing Oscar season.