How Benedict Cumberbatch Nailed His ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Role

Movie Talk
Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'
Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

For the purposes of not spoiling his identity, let's just call him "Villain X."

Benedict Cumberbatch is already getting rave reviews for his villainous role in "Star Trek Into Darkness" – a part that has been the scuttlebutt of spoilerific Internet fervor and longtime speculation. (Is he or isn't he Kahn? We will never tell!)

"This is just a cherry on the already very huge and rich cake," Cumberbatch told Yahoo! Movies during an interview in London on Saturday.

When it comes to how he won the part, it involved an eleventh-hour iPhone audition and an apparent beeline straight to J.J. Abrams's ideal vision.

"He auditioned for this part -- it was over," Abrams said to us.

"We were looking for the right actor. We met a lot of people," Abrams recalled. And those people included Edgar Ramirez ("Zero Dark Thirty," "The Bourne Ultimatum"), Jordi Molla ("Blow," "Colombiana"), and Benicio del Toro – who was thought to have had the bad guy role clinched at a certain point.

Enter Damon Lindelof – Abrams's longtime collaborator and "Lost" television show co-creator.

"Damon Lindelof said, 'You should check out "Sherlock."' I watched 'Sherlock' [and] he was just brilliant," Abrams remembers of Cumberbatch's performance on the BBC show.

With the "Into Darkness" film shoot just a couple of months away, Cumberbatch was officially made part of the cast. And his iPhone audition -- just a formality, Abrams has said. His work on "Sherlock" all but sealed the deal.

J.J. Abrams on the set of 'Into Darkness'
J.J. Abrams on the set of 'Into Darkness'

Once the 36-year-old, new "Star Trek" villain was on set, he upped everyone's game, according to Abrams. "He is literally one of the best actors I have ever seen," the new "Star Wars" director told us.

"He is incredible and terrifying and oddly sympathetic in this movie," said the 46-year-old director-producer extraordinaire of Cumberbatch. "His performance, his physicality – just everything blew me away."

As for the man who plays Villain X – he's just happy Abrams is happy. "I was just pleased in the boss," Cumberbatch told Yahoo! "[Abrams] is a pretty inspirational leader. If he was happy at the end of a day's work then I thought I was doing something right."

"Star Trek Into Darkness" enters theaters on May 17 (U.S.) and May 9 (U.K.).

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