Benedict Cumberbatch Interview: ‘Patrick Melrose’
“There’s such extraordinary rich scenes of material to mine,” reveals Benedict Cumberbatch about his recent limited series “Patrick Melrose” on Showtime. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “We were always talking about this as being the most ambitious of film-making in television, which is to make television as rich and diverse, as visually-alluring, enthralling and novel and entertaining as you possibly can on the small screen.”
The five-part program is based on the books by British author Edward St. Aubyn, which Cumberbatch discovered years ago. It covers a span of time from the early 1980s to the early 21st century as the title character battles addictions to alcohol and drugs, suicidal thoughts and a tattered family. Co-stars include Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving, Jessica Raine, Holliday Grainger and Blythe Danner.
The blockbuster film star of “Doctor Strange” and “The Avengers: Infinity War” could have asked that the subject matter be made into several feature films, but he and his producing team opted for TV instead. Of that decision he says, “I’ve never really thought about it in terms of a series of feature films. If it’s five episodes and so much is contained in each one, then I think you need a continuation and television offers that. You have the weekly installment or you binge watch it all together, which a few of my friends did.”
Cumberbatch now has two Emmy nominations this year for Best Movie/Limited Series Actor and as a producer for Best Limited Series. The show also has bids for directing (Edward Berger), writing (David Nicholls) and casting (Nina Gold and Martin Ware). Regarding the Emmy recognition he adds, “It’s a massive validation of the work you put into something. This one has always been a personal project for me, and to be producing it as well I take great pride in the nominations for our writer as well, for limited series and for Ed Berger. I was really thrilled to get a nomination myself. I really do like my job. Don’t tell too many people that or they’ll say if he likes it so much he should do it for free.”
Although he won an Emmy in 2014 for “Sherlock: His Last Vow,” he couldn’t attend the ceremony. He promises in our chat he will be in the auditorium for the 2018 event. This year marks his sixth and seventh career nominations. He was also an Oscar and Golden Globe nominee for the 2014 film “The Imitation Game.”