It’s not exactly a secret that Julian Assange and the rest of WikiLeaks are displeased with the upcoming Assange biopic The Fifth Estate. They’ve leaked the screenplay, described the film as “irresponsible, counterproductive and harmful,” and even released a two word mini-review of the film via Twitter. Those two words: “it’s bad.”
It turns out that the rabbit hole goes even deeper; in January, Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Assange in the film) contacted the man behind WikiLeaks and asked to meet with him. Today, WikiLeaks has published the letter that Assange sent back. It actually starts off rather fondly:
“My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of. I think I would enjoy meeting you.”
But after a few compliments to Cumberbatch’s character and acting ability, the letter takes the turn down Righteous Fury Lane that we were all expecting it to take.
Among other things, Assange mentions:
“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 seeks to cut our strength with weakness. To cut affection with exploitation. To cut diligence with paranoia. To cut loyalty with naivety. To cut principle with hypocrisy. And above all, to cut the truth with lies.”
“I believe you are well intentioned but surely you can see why it is a bad idea for me to meet with you. By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give.”
Interestingly enough, Assange actually pleads with Cumberbatch to drop the film, and says he will be used “as a hired gun;” an actor with extraordinary talent manipulated by the forces of evil (those forces being Dreamworks). Naturally, we can piece together that Cumberbatch didn’t leave the production, and that Assange and the actor never met face to face. But as this piece is titled (on WikiLeaks, where it can be read in its entirety) “First Letter from Julian Assange to Benedict Cumberbatch,” perhaps we’ll be seeing more correspondences being leaked in the future. I’m certainly curious to see Cumberbatch’s response (if there was one).