Julian Assange Slams The Fifth Estate WikiLeaks Film, Warns Benedict Cumberbatch Against Role in Letter
No, tell us how you really feel, Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder has been making himself scarce as he enjoys political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, but in a recently released letter that he penned to actor Benedict Cumberbatch back in January, Assange definitely pulls no punches.
"Dear Benedict," the email correspondence, published on WikiLeaks on Wednesday, Oct. 9, begins. "Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks."
Assange, who retreated to the embassy in June 2012, goes on to praise the buzzed-about Brit Cumberbatch, who portrays him in the upcoming film The Fifth Estate. The film, based on a book by Assange's ex-partner Daniel Domscheit, will chronicle Assange's headline-making decision to release previously protected U.S. military and diplomatic documents to the general public back in 2010.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, Cumberbatch was vague about their correspondence, only saying that the two only communicated via "email through a friend, basically."
"He was pretty keen for me not to do the film, and the rest is sort of between us, really," he said at the time. The content of Assange's email reveals why.
"I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film," the Australian warns in the missive. "I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about. ….It is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organization."
"Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion," he continues. "This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads. It is going to smother the truthful version of events, at a time when the truth is most in demand."
"You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it," Assange adds. "To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth. Not because you want to, of course you don't, but because, in the end, you are a jobbing actor who gets paid to follow the script, no matter how debauched."
In a separate statement that Assange issued following the original email's release, the WikiLeaks founder hammered his point home, calling the film itself "a geriatric snoozefest that only the US government could love."