In an interview with Out magazine while promoting his new film, The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch opens up about his same-sex experiences at his English boarding school, Brambletye in West Sussex.
“While there was experimentation [at Brambletye], it had never occurred to me as ‘Oh, this is that,’” Cumberbatch says. “It was just boys and their penises, the same way with girls and vaginas and boobs. It wasn’t out of desire.”
The Imitation Game is based on the life of mathematician Alan Turing, widely considered “the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.” Turing killed himself in 1954 after being convicted for engaging in homosexual acts. Last year, he was given an official pardon by the Queen, but that hasn’t appeased Cumberbatch.
“It’s an insult for anybody of authority or standing to sign off on him with their approval and say, ‘Oh, he’s forgiven,’” Cumberbatch says. “The only person who should be [doing the] forgiving is Turing, and he can’t because we killed him. And it makes me really angry. It makes me very angry.”
Cumberbatch is a supporter of gay rights and even officiated the civil ceremony of his friends Seth Cummings and Rob Rinder in Ibiza last year. He acknowledges that not everyone in Hollywood finds it easy to be so publicly pro-gay, especially if they’re trying to market themselves as a leading man.
“I think if you’re going to sell yourself as a leading man in Hollywood to say, ‘I’m gay,’ sadly, is still a huge obstacle,” he says. “We all know actors who are [gay] who don’t want to talk about it or bring it up, or who deny it. I don’t really know what they do to deal with it. Human rights movements and sexual and gay rights movements have made huge social progress in the last 40 years, without a doubt, but there’s a lot more work to be done.”
Check out Xtra’s red carpet interviews with Cumberbatch and other The Imitation Game stars Kiera Knightley and Allen Leech (from Downton Abbey), as well as the film’s writer Graham Moore and director Morten Tyldum: