British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is the newest member of the “Star Trek” franchise, but he assured Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz, although he is the new “Trek” bad guy, he is not playing legendary villain Khan in the upcoming second installment of the origin series from J.J. Abrams.
“A few have asked that which is strange,” Benedict told Scott on Monday, joking about it being “strange,” considering it was wildly speculated he would play the youthful version of the character originated by Ricardo Montalban in a 1967 episode of the “Star Trek” television series – “Space Seed” — and later in the 1980s film, “The Wrath of Khan.”
“I play a character called John and not that other name,” Benedict continued. “It’s interesting. Speculation is speculation and that’s all fun.”
On Tuesday, Benedict did reveal, however, some new details to Access’ MovieMantz at the junket for the first nine minutes of the film, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which was first screened for journalists over the weekend.
“I play John Harrison who’s a terrorist and an extraordinary character in his own right,” the Brit said. “He’s somebody who is not your two-dimensional cookie cutter villain. He’s got an extraordinary purpose, and I hope that at one point or other in the film you might even sympathize with the reasons he’s doing what he’s doing — not necessarily the means and the destruction he causes. But it was a great ride, not just because he’s the bad guy and the antagonist but also because he has a purpose and it’s hard not to see his point of view at certain points.”
The actor, who also stars as Sherlock Holmes in PBS’ “Sherlock,” admitted he wasn’t looking to see a “Star Trek” film when the origin story of the reboot franchise first came out.
“I wasn’t that interested in seeing a ‘Star Trek’ movie, I’ll be honest. I know you are a Trekspert, so forgive me,” the Brit told Scott. “It’s not out of any loathing of the genre or sci-fi or anything. I love it, but I just wasn’t that interested. And people said, ‘No, you should just go and see it. It’s a great film.’ And lo and behold, then all the Trekkie in me was reborn as well and I was just over the moon excited about them all meeting for the first time. I thought it was such an imaginative prequel.”
And Benedict noted the new film takes things even further.
“Without a doubt, it is truly epic,” he said. “It’s a big film. The scale of it is so much bigger than the first.”
Benedict said he is aware this film is important to lifelong “Star Trek” fans, but he had to please his director, first and foremost.
“You can’t try and fulfill everyone’s expectations. As an actor, my role in this is to fulfill my director’s promise in me and yeah, if I fulfill his trust in me, that’s it. That’s a job done. And then, I have full respect for the fans’ response. I know that they own this… A lot of people have grown [up] with this all of their lives… And that is important to me, but if you go about trying to please everybody, it’s a short way to madness.
“It would paralyze you if you went to all of the comments… Having said that, I’ll be over the moon if the fans are happy,” he added.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” hits theaters on May 17, 2013.
-- Jolie Lash