Belfast Telegraph

Cumberbatch at Estate premiere

Benedict Cumberbatch has said it's "incredible" to be playing the lead role in the movie chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival, The Fifth Estate.

The Sherlock star plays Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the film.

Speaking on the red carpet at the glitzy screening, Benedict told Canada's City News it was "a huge deal" to have the film open the event. "It's a really smart film for a smart energised crowd," he said.

Earlier this year Benedict revealed he had reached out to the Australian activist, but that he did not want any contact. Assange also later criticised the movie as a "propaganda attack".

Director Bill Condon said: "When we tried to actually make contact - Benedict made the most overt gestures - we were rebuffed. He has the sense of it being something very different than what it is."

But the filmmaker admitted there were some advantages to making a film about Assange without his input.

He explained: "There's so much in him that I admire. At a certain point, I thought it was an advantage not to spend time with him. So much has been written and recorded, I felt from what I knew about him that it would either be an attempt at manipulation on his part or that there would be things that would make me like him less than I actually do."

He went on: "You change your mind about him many, many times during the course of the movie. The idea was to present this incredibly complicated and, as we can see, relevant issue of the struggle in this age between privacy and transparency in all of its complication. And in a similar way, present him in all his complexity."

The Fifth Estate also stars Laura Linney, Daniel Bruhl, Stanley Tucci, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Dan Stevens and Alicia Vikander and is partly based on Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding's book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War On Secrecy.

It is to be released in UK cinemas on January 1, 2014.

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