First look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in WikiLeaks movie ‘The Fifth Estate’

Wide Screen

There’s good casting and then there’s this.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock,” “Star Trek into Darkness”) nearly disappears into the role of embattled info-warrior Julian Assange, as seen in this first publicity still from director Bill Condon’s WikiLeaks drama “The Fifth Estate.” Between the long white locks and the sneeringly pouty expression, Cumberbatch’s resemblance to the real Assange is uncanny. Cumberbatch’s “Fifth Estate” co-star Daniel Brühl (“Goodbye Lenin!,” “Inglourious Basterds”) also looks quite convincing as former Assange colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The film began shooting in Iceland this week.

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“The Fifth Estate” follows the rise of controversial WikiLeaks founder and spokesperson Julian Assange, from his beginnings as a hacker and activist to his founding of the secret-leaking organization. The film is not expected to lionize Assange as the Internet folk hero he is to some, but will instead paint a portrait of a man corrupted by power.

The DreamWorks-produced film isn’t the only WikiLeaks movie on the horizon. Filmmaker Alex Gibney’s documentary about the “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” premiered at the Sundance Festival on Monday, while “Zero Dark Thirty” screenwriter Mark Boal is reportedly working on WikiLeaks related project. HBO is also said to be developing a TV movie based on Assange’s story.

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With a November release date set, it’s fairly clear that studio DreamWorks intends to make “The Fifth Estate” part of their 2013 awards season push. The Oscars have historically favoured biographical films -- particularly the lead performances in said films -- come awards time. The film boasts an all-star international cast that includes Laura Linney, David Thewlis, Carice Van Houten, Anthony Mackie, Alicia Vikander,
and Peter Capaldi.

“The Fifth Estate” (formerly titled “The Man Who Sold the World”) is due in theatres on Nov. 5, 2013.