TIFF Red Carpet: Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of WikiLeaks thriller The Fifth Estate
The usual hard-core celebrity-stalkers and cinephiles lined up alongside computer nerds, information advocates, Trekkies, Game of Thrones junkies and Cumberbitches—the self-declared fanboys and fangirls of British actor and festival it-boy Benedict Cumberbatch—at Roy Thomson Hall for the world premiere of The Fifth Estate, which opened the 2013 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday night. Cumberbatch, who plays Julian Assange in the bio-pic-slash-thriller about the WikiLeaks founder, posed with his legion fans before fielding meaty questions alongside director Bill Condon about the Chelsea Manning verdict, the NSA debacle and, of course, Assange, while co-stars Daniel Brühl, Dan Stevens, Alicia Vikander, and Carice Van Houten (Melisandre from Game of Thrones) worked the crowd. When asked who’s the greater villain, Star Trek’s Khan (who Cumberbatch also played) or Assange, the Brit disputed the premise, returning: “Neither are villains, they’re both human beings.” (Nerd alert: Khan is actually a genetically engineered superhuman.)
Chaz Ebert, the late film critic Roger Ebert’s widow, was also on-hand to accept a plaque in honour of her husband, who was always a big presence at TIFF. While she didn’t reveal her own feelings on Asange, she said her husband would have applauded TIFF for opening the festival on such a controversial note. “He was never one to shy away from controversy.” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also walked the carpet, taking the occasion to administer spoon-fed talking points on the importance of government transparency. She was also snuck in her best version of saucy red carpet pose after a particularly insistent photographer goaded her into it. Vogue, Hon. Wynne!