"Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is in talks to bring his stage Hamlet to the screen. The play begins performances at the Barbican next year, and negotiations for it to be filmed live and shown in cinemas through National Theatre Live for one night are well advanced.
The actor, along with the production’s director Lyndsey Turner and producer Sonia Friedman, has spent more than a year ensuring that this will be a ‘people’s Hamlet’.
‘I felt very strongly that as wide an audience as possible should have access to it,’ Cumberbatch told me.
The Barbican’s allocation of seats for the entire 12-week run, which starts on August 5 next year, have been snapped up already.
But there will be 100 seats available per performance. ‘They will be sprinkled throughout the house … they’re not behind pillars,’ the 38-year-old joked.
He said that he and Ms Turner were eager to make their Hamlet as ‘fresh’ as possible, ‘like a new play that just landed as a pdf in someone’s computer inbox at the Royal Court’, as he described it.
‘We want to escape the idea that it has been done before, and we’re looking at the whole play — not just the eponymous hero.’
Benedict is a thespian polymath. There’s no role he cannot take on.
We had met to discuss another of his projects: a towering portrait — one of the great performances of the year — of Alan Turing, the man who helped break the Nazi’s Enigma code, in the film The Imitation Game.
Watching the movie, I was struck by his approach to Turing: the way he grasped and captured the man, not just the cliched genius. The film is all the more heartbreaking because of it.
The Imitation Game shows how the boundaries of class and status were broken by the disparate group gathered at Bletchley Park.
‘That was an incredible, rag-tag group of brave, stoic, quiet heroes,’ Cumberbatch marvelled.
‘I say rag-tag, in the sense that they were mathematicians, physicists, crossword enthusiasts … really anyone who had an intellect and a prowess that might help solve this puzzle.
‘Turing may have had eccentric behaviour; he may have had certain tropes of being different, but this was a whole team of “different” people, brought together in a crisis.’
The star said that Turing was guileless about his sexuality. ‘When he was arrested by the police he told them outright that he’d had a sexual relationship with another man.
‘He just gave them the information, and the sad thing was that he’dbeen with a rent boy. He’d never had a stable relationship’.
Meanwhile, Cumberbatch has been wearing a bodysuit covered with motion sensors to play and provide the voice of tiger Shere Khan in Andy Serkis’s film Jungle Book: Origins.
And he’s in rehearsals to play crippled Richard III in the new Hollow Crown TV drama series, which will encompass Henry VI, Parts 1 and 2, and Richard III.
He then shoots a Christmas special of Sherlock — the role which won him a best actor Emmy on Monday.
He also has plans to fit in a film or two and, after Hamlet ends next year, will film three more Sherlock episodes. [x]
Here are some resources for anyone who wants to read up on fandom history, including outlines, old fan fiction, and certain famous drama. Made especially for all the teenagers out there who believe that tumblr created the concept of fandom.
T H E B E G I N N I N G S ( P R E - 1 9 9 0 F A N D O M )
Precursors to Fan Fiction
There have been several works that could most definitely be considered the beginnings of fan fiction, and most of them are quite surprising.
- The Brontë siblings spent much of their child to young adulthood writing short stories and novels telling the fantasy adventures of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. (x)
Despite the buzz around Star Trek being the first, the origin of the modern idea of “fandom” can be traced all the way back to 1887 with the creation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s world famous detective. As well as some of the first ever fan fiction.
- Here’s a video detailing how Holmes started fanfiction. (x)
- A blog post about the changes in Sherlock Holmes fandom over time. (x)
- "The Adventure of the Two Collaborators" a fanfiction by the creator of Peter Pan. (x)
Now we’re at the big one. The real big fandom creator. The Original Series didn’t have a big audience during it’s original run, but those who did watch it were deeply invested in it. This means conventions, mailing groups, fan magazines, and fanfiction presses.
- Spockanalia, the first ever fanzine, appeared in September 1967. Celebrating fan art and even fan fiction. The zine ran from 67’-70’, and published five issues. (x) (x) (x)
- The first fan convention occurred in March of 1969. The “Star Trek Con” did not have celebrity guests but did have “slide shows of ‘Trek’ aliens, skits and a fan panel to discuss ‘The Star Trek Phenomenon.’” (x)
- "Star Trek Lives!" was the first large scale con and it was in 1970. They expected 500 people, they had to turn down people when there was 3000. (x)
- Kirk/Spock is the first official slash ever, and was largely circulated due to fanzines. (x) (x) (x)
E A R L Y D A Y S O F T H E I N T E R N E T ( T H E 1 9 9 0 ’ S )
In 1995, Geocities was born. If you haven’t heard of Geocities(due to it’s death in 2009), it was a Web hosting service, separated into ‘neighborhoods’ named after real cities for what they were famous for. Here, many fandoms shared fan fiction. Back in the day, fandoms had to create their own private spaces. This made fandoms on the internet smaller and less accessible than fanzine operated ones.
1998 brought fanfiction.net into existence to compete with the hundreds of independent, fandom-oriented fanfiction archives. More democratization, although fanfiction was marketed on how many reviews one had.
E A R L Y 2 0 0 0 ’ S T O N O W
The Cassie Clare Controversy
You might recognize Cassandra Clare from the YA series The Mortal Instruments, but in the early 2000s people remember her a bit differently. As a Harry Potter fan fiction writer who caused a big old controversy.
- The Draco Trilogy is a Draco-centric epic written and posted by Cassandra Claire over a period of six years. It was quite popular, and was one of the longest Harry Potter fics out there. (x)
- People noticed however, that she lifted scenes and dialog straight from other fiction, causing an uproar and Cassie to be banned from fanfiction.net. (x)
Around this time, forums come around. People rapidly gained and lost power, causing quick turnover in these parts of fandom. (x)
In 2007, tumblr is created, however it doesn’t really become popular until 2010 and due to the death of Geocities and other popular websites for fandom and it’s less strict guidelines, it becomes a major fandom stronghold.
- Tumblr and fandom (x)
Benedict Cumberbatch will be on the front cover of Elle magazine (December issue).
The full cover will be revealed in October.
According to Elle:
"We don’t want to give too much away right now. But there was a small furry animal on set. We rode on the back of his motorcycle. And he talked (at length) about exactly what Sherlock would do in bed.
It was a good day at work.”