Belfast Telegraph

Benedict Cumberbatch rounds on critics after refugee speech row

Benedict Cumberbatch has hit back after he was criticised for making speeches on stage attacking the government over the refugee crisis.

The Hollywood star, 40, said it was ridiculous he had been accused of hypocrisy for not offering accommodation to refugees in his own house.

Cumberbatch criticised the government's "slow response" to the crisis of Syrians fleeing war during the curtain call of his Hamlet performance last year.

In an interview with the November issue of British GQ, Cumberbatch said the house he owns has no electricity or running water.

The father-of-one is reported to have bought a large Victorian house in the Dartmouth Park area of north London, where former Labour leader Ed Miliband lives, which stands empty as it undergoes renovations before he moves in.

He told the magazine: "One of the arguments was, when are you going to put a refugee in your house or your flat?

"And, you know, I do have a house, but it's empty, it's gutted, there's no electricity or water, so that wouldn't work, and I have a baby in my flat, there are no spare rooms...

"I wasn't saying, 'Yes, open the doors to everyone, yes, give them our jobs and our wives', and that whole kind of stereotype fear that nationalism has leapt on."

He said that he got "riled up" to make his speech after seeing the photograph of Alan Kurdi, the image of the dead toddler on a beach that sparked outrage across Europe.

Cumberbatch added: "It's not about privilege, it's about a child dead on a beach because he's tried to escape a war."

The actor added his name to a list of 250 people in the arts opposing Brexit but admitted it felt "so lazy".

"I mean, come on, look at the other names on that list," he said. "It's just who gets the most clickbait.

"I find it frustrating because I do have very strong opinions about things, and I do want to say things that matter, and that are important, and I have to wrench myself back.

"Because it's so easily framed by the right as 'Booo, who's he? He's a hypocrite, he's an actor, he's paid shit-tonnes of money, who is he to tell us how to live our lives?'," he said.

He said of the EU referendum: "I was in Wales when it happened. And there is such poverty in Wales. There are real problems. Real problems.

"You know, we used to film in Merthyr Tydfil, one of the most impoverished places in that country, and of course people are angry. Of course people want change. What people are f***ed off about is that they were promised change that won't happen."

:: The November issue of British GQ is on sale on Thursday.


From Belfast Telegraph