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19 April 2014 @ 11:21 pm
Meme (Actor Time Again)  
Taken from somewhere on Tumblr:

Pick an actor or actress you like and answer these questions. All questions are in reference to their work, not personal life.

I did Ben Whishaw last time so this time around I went with Benedict Cumberbatch.


What works of theirs have you seen?
(in the interest of space, I'm only including works where Cumberbatch had a substantial role)
Fortysomething
Hawking
Starter For 10

Marple "Murder is Easy"
Creation
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Warhorse
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Sherlock
The Fifth Estate
The Hobbit
Cabin Pressure (radio play)
Neverwhere (radio play)
Frankenstein (National Theatre Live Broadcast)


Their best work?
I personally feel like Cumberbatch's best performance is still as Martin Crieff in Cabin Pressure. I'm always extra impressed when actors can convey so much with just their voice work and Cumberbatch has done a lovely job of making Martin more than someone who is fussy and annoying. He's those things too but he's given the character enough layers that he's not just the butt of jokes but a real person whom we can all connect with on some level. Because who amongst us hasn't at one point panicked and acted like an idiot? It's just that Martin does it a lot. If I had to pick an on screen work, my so far favorite performance of Cumberbatch's was Hawking. The movie itself is so so but there's a really wonderful scene when Hawking is getting a rather invasive procedure done and is trying to distract himself from the pain by talking to the nurses about his work. It's a really quiet, understated, lovely bit of acting from Cumberbatch which I'm not entirely sure I've seen replicated since in his other work.

Their worst work?
I hated everything about The Fifth Estate. The script was boring and kind of insulting and sexist, the acting by everyone all around was equally dull and started to venture into parody territory.

Their special skill?
Cumberbatch is very good at comedy. I feel the need to stress this because I think when people think of him now, they see him as a dramatic actor. And he is. But I think he's actually a better comedian because he looks like he wouldn't be able to do it but his comedy timing is awesome. His range in it is also unexpectedly broad from the more slapsticky, hapless comedy (Martin Crieff) to the more subtle, dry comedy (Sherlock). Related to this, he's also very good at doing impressions.

Their weakness?
A tendency to scene chew. I feel at times the director really needs to tell Cumberbatch to tone it down. Particularly when a scene has dramatic energy already built into it due to the writing. In those moments, the actor could probably stand to do more understated acting rather than the grand gestures acting which I think Cumberbatch tends to fall into quite a bit. We saw it on Sherlock numerous times but he was basically at this setting continuously during The Fifth Estate which did nothing to improve the movie.

Most noticeable feature?
Definitely his voice. It's quite lovely. I could say the hair but most British men seem to rock the nice hair so it feels a bit less special.

Their upcoming work you're looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to The Imitation Game because I'm fascinated by the story of Alan Turing.

What role would you most like to see them in?
I think Cumberbatch would have made a very good Jacob De Zoet if David Mitchell's novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet had been made into a film about 10 years ago. It would have been impossible since the book hadn't even been written 10 years ago but I'm just fantasizing here. On a purely physical level, Cumberbatch has Jacob's coloring (ginger hair, light eyes) which is actually a key plot point in the novel. On a performance level, I think the role would have really worked to Cumberbatch's acting strengths. Jacob is a very quiet, diligent, decent, and ultimately strong willed character who never does anything flashy to demonstrate he knows what's what. He goes about doing things because it's The Right Thing To Do which doesn't always mean he makes the right choices, but he always tries and doesn't let his failures defeat him. While Jacob is interesting, he can easily come off on paper and screen as a bit closed off and potentially dull which is why Cumberbatch would have done well with it as he can almost always find energy and intrigue in a character, even if the character is quiet. His performance as the excruciatingly underwritten Dr. Frankenstein in Nick Dear's Frankenstein more than proved that. And because Jacob is not a terribly flashy character, there would be less chance of scene chewing. At this point, Cumberbatch in his late 30s is too old to play Jacob who is 25 at the start of the novel, his youth also being somewhat critical to the story. But if we wait another 10 years for this to be adapted, he could also play the British Naval Officer, Captain Penhaligon who suffers from gout and is about to invade Japan. I make the role sound comical but Penhaligon features heavily in one pivotal scene in the book which almost reduced me to tears so there's plenty of chance for drama.
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The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 03:41 am (UTC)
Word on most of this, except I haven't seen The Fifth Estate, so I can't comment. And I'm not familiar with the book you're talking about.

In those moments, the actor could probably stand to do more understated acting rather than the grand gestures acting which I think Cumberbatch tends to fall into quite a bit

I still feel that British actors coming from stage school need more emphasis put on their screen acting training. I think they're so used to being big for the stage that they have trouble translating it to quieter moments. David Tennant has this problem as well. And Matt Smith. And John Barrowman. I just feel like someone needs to pull them aside and tell them that the camera can see them, and they don't nee to act to the back row.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 03:51 am (UTC)
I highly encourage everyone to skip The Fifth Estate. It's just not a good movie. Even if I ignored the more character stuff, the movie as a plot is ridiculously boring considering their topic.

I highly encourage people to read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet because the book is awesome and reads very cinematically. I was fancasting all over the place while reading.

I still feel that British actors coming from stage school need more emphasis put on their screen acting training. I think they're so used to being big for the stage that they have trouble translating it to quieter moments.

But some stage actors seem to translate just fine. I wonder if it's just a mental shift thing that is half the battle. I know BC is capable of quiet acting on screen and has already done it. It just feels like for him when the script gives him something very high energy, he goes a bit overboard with it.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
It just feels like for him when the script gives him something very high energy, he goes a bit overboard with it.

I know his mum said that he was hyperactive as a kid, I wonder if he just gets very excited when he has to be high energy? It reminds me of the story she told about him being in the wings when she was onstage and unable to control himself because he was so excited about everything, and wanting to do it so much.

It makes me sad when he does the over the top bits as Sherlock because he does have some really lovely quiet moments, too. Little hand movements and lip quirks that say so much more than him twirling around the room. And some of that is just the character, but he can tone it down and still keep the eccentricity. I wish he'd trust himself a bit more. I thought he did a bit better this series, and he felt more comfortable. Maybe the change in directors.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)
Little hand movements and lip quirks that say so much more than him twirling around the room. And some of that is just the character, but he can tone it down and still keep the eccentricity. I wish he'd trust himself a bit more.

Definitely he does quite well with small movements so he should trust those more. If I ever directed him (because I enjoy fantasizing about realities that will never happen), I'd always be reassuring him that I totally see his emoting. No need to frown extra hard or throw in a large hand gesture.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 04:04 am (UTC)
If I ever directed him (because I enjoy fantasizing about realities that will never happen), I'd always be reassuring him that I totally see his emoting. No need to frown extra hard or throw in a large hand gesture.

Aww, that makes him seem like he's trying so hard to be good when you put it that way. I want to hug him now. Even more so than usual.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 04:09 am (UTC)
I want to hug him now. Even more so than usual.

It's weird because when I think about Sherlock these days, I think of your version of him in fics and I always want to either hug him or pat him on the shoulder in a sort of "There, there. People-ing is so hard, isn't it?" gesture. He's way more lovable than the actual canon version.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 04:13 am (UTC)
It's weird because when I think about Sherlock these days, I think of your version of him in fics and I always want to either hug him or pat him on the shoulder in a sort of "There, there. People-ing is so hard, isn't it?" gesture. He's way more lovable than the actual canon version.

Yeah...I'm sorry. I do that to everyone. I make people way more cuddly than they are. Though, "Sign of Three"!Sherlock isn't too far off.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 04:16 am (UTC)
Yeah...I'm sorry. I do that to everyone. I make people way more cuddly than they are.

No apologies necessary! I love your Sherlock (both kid and adult) and it's helped me enjoy the show's a bit more. Your take on him even in just straight reviews of the show is always more forgiving which is a good perspective to get as I tend to write him up as a jerk more often times than not.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 04:25 am (UTC)
I think my interpretation of Sherlock is that he's working from a place of love that he can't express like a normal human being, so that makes him more forgivable in my mind. I recognize that he is an utter jerk, but I feel like he's not actively trying to be most of the time. He just does what he likes and it's not until John comes along that it matters what he says or does, because John isn't putting up with it. And John matters, for whatever reason.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 04:28 am (UTC)
I recognize that he is an utter jerk, but I feel like he's not actively trying to be most of the time.

I feel this changes depending on which writer is writing the character. I feel like Moffat (especially early on) genuinely thought we'd be delighted by Sherlock's verbal put downs so they were delivered with some level of targeted nastiness. But he just came off as a jerk. When Gatiss and Thompson write him, he does feel more like, "Is that insulting? But why? I'm just saying the truth!"
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 04:35 am (UTC)
I feel like Moffat (especially early on) genuinely thought we'd be delighted by Sherlock's verbal put downs so they were delivered with some level of targeted nastiness. But he just came off as a jerk.

Yes, THIS. In big capital letters, THIS. I remember Moffat talking about House in one of his commentaries, and how it set the bar for people liking a hero who's a jerk, but I think that with House, you get on his side and enjoy being clever with him. Whereas the only people who enjoy Sherlock being an asshole are other assholes. I just cringe.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 04:40 am (UTC)
House later became less good at this but one reason why I enjoyed House's brand of nastiness is that the show was consistent in giving us a character who enjoyed puzzles and didn't like people and that was it. He never asked to be admired. Sherlock in Moffat's hands seems like he wants the admiration from the very people he insults so it feels problematic.

I read some interview where Moffat spoke about how the ACD stories were a celebration of a very clever, wonderful man which sort of told me how he and I were on completely separate pages about those stories. I never thought ACD was celebrating Sherlock Holmes' cleverness but rather like the character, just enjoyed telling clever stories. It was never about fanboying over the main guy.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 04:51 am (UTC)
Sherlock in Moffat's hands seems like he wants the admiration from the very people he insults so it feels problematic.

I'm not even sure if I feel like Sherlock wants to be admired, so much as Moffat writes him in such a way that I feel like I'm supposed to be admiring of him. Does that make sense? Like it's not so much Sherlock going 'love me' as every other character standing around commenting about how clever he is. Like they've all just gone stupid for an episode. Which is how I feel about Doctor Who now. Everyone who is not the Doctor is solely there to be like 'hey, you know who's awesome? The Doctor!' without the Doctor doing anything to actually prove that he's awesome.

It was never about fanboying over the main guy.

I'm going to be a very bad person and say I don't particularly care for the original stories. I understand they were revolutionary for their time, but I don't find them gripping to read. I'm spoiled by how well known they are, of course, but for me, I prefer the adaptations to the original, because they flesh out all the bits that Conan Doyle didn't bother to put in.

formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 04:55 am (UTC)
I feel like I'm supposed to be admiring of him. Does that make sense? Like it's not so much Sherlock going 'love me' as every other character standing around commenting about how clever he is.

Yes, maybe that's it. It's more of a tell rather than show situation where House used to show me why I should admire him whereas Sherlock was more telling me.

I'm going to be a very bad person and say I don't particularly care for the original stories.

I haven't read that many of them. The ones I read were fine but didn't inspire a desire in me to read every single one. I enjoy the mysteries even though some felt very dated which is why the reboots can be quite entertaining to watch.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 05:01 am (UTC)
It's more of a tell rather than show situation where House used to show me why I should admire him whereas Sherlock was more telling me.

Yep, that's it exactly. Whereas I do feel like Gatiss and Thompson understand that Sherlock is not a superhero, just a very clever man who has no fucking clue what to do with himself most of the time.

I enjoy the mysteries even though some felt very dated which is why the reboots can be quite entertaining to watch.

I think it might be the dated feeling that I find a bit lackluster. Also, because Holmes had no authority, a lot of the stories end with 'then he escaped on a boat, but it sank, the end', because Holmes can't actually arrest or apprehend anyone. So it's a long build up to 'lol, oops, he ran away and we never heard from him again'.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 05:06 am (UTC)
Sherlock is not a superhero, just a very clever man who has no fucking clue what to do with himself most of the time.

This is largely how I'd describe Elementary's Sherlock: a very clever man who is kind of a mess.

'then he escaped on a boat, but it sank, the end',

HAHAHA!!!

I enjoyed watching the ITV series with Jeremy Brett which did a pretty accurate depiction of the stories, I think. So there must be something about reading the somewhat dated stories that are more dull than watching said dated stories.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 05:09 am (UTC)
I enjoyed watching the ITV series with Jeremy Brett which did a pretty accurate depiction of the stories, I think. So there must be something about reading the somewhat dated stories that are more dull than watching said dated stories.

My mother can't read Tolkein, but if it's read to her or she's watching the movies, she loves it. Sometimes it's just the style of writing. Two pages of description of a field isn't her thing.

This is largely how I'd describe Elementary's Sherlock: a very clever man who is kind of a mess.

I think most geniuses are. I find it hard to turn off my brain, and I'm no genius. I imagine it's a thousand times worse for someone who is.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 05:15 am (UTC)
I think most geniuses are. I find it hard to turn off my brain, and I'm no genius. I imagine it's a thousand times worse for someone who is.

There's that French book titled something like, How I Became Stupid about someone who willfully made themselves dumber to try and be happier or at least more at ease with themselves.
The Writer They Call Tay: MISC: Tom (or Alec)awanderingbard on April 20th, 2014 05:17 am (UTC)
There's that French book titled something like, How I Became Stupid about someone who willfully made themselves dumber to try and be happier or at least more at ease with themselves.

Yes, it is a sad fact that less intelligent people are more happy.

Unless you are Tom Hiddleston, apparently.

I'm off to bed, but it's been lovely chatting with you! I hope you have a super great birthday. *huggles*

Edited at 2014-04-20 05:17 am (UTC)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 20th, 2014 05:18 am (UTC)
Same here! Always a pleasure to chat.

Thanks for the birthday wishes! Have a g'nite!
aelfgyfu_mead: Sherlockaelfgyfu_mead on April 20th, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC)
SECOND.
aelfgyfu_mead: brilliantaelfgyfu_mead on April 20th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC)
Yes to the scene chewing! I keep hearing people talk about how great BC is on Sherlock, and he's not at the top of my list of actors on that show.

Now Cabin Pressure is a totally different story. I found Martin very foolish and off-putting at first and cannot believe how he has grown on me, and that's really due to the actor. With a lesser actor, I think I wouldn't care or would just find him annoying. I care a lot about Martin now. I want him to take the job and marry the princess and generally win!
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 21st, 2014 01:45 am (UTC)
Cabin Pressure was sort of the show that made me realize that Cumberbatch is a GOOD actor, rather than just AN actor. I went from finding Martin irritating to wanting him to get everything wonderful in life because he deserves it.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 21st, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
I was going back through the first episodes and I had honestly forgotten how annoying Martin was at the beginning. Finnemore and Cumberbatch have done such a good job bringing him along to the person we want to succeed so much.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 21st, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
I'm really glad Martin developed. Because during season 1 I was always on Douglas' side to mess with Martin.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 21st, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
Yes, and then now I feel sorry for both of them, really. Douglas, for all his bluster, doesn't have much in his life. Finnemore should really give lessons in how to create meaningful character arcs. There are plenty of writer's out there who could learn from him.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 21st, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
I actually worry about Douglas the most should MJN Air go defunct. Martin is with Swiss Air, Arthur will be fine because he's Arthur and Carolyn will find a way to land on her feet. But Douglas is divorced and basically banned from any other flying job for smuggling. Where would he go? What would he do if MJN Air sinks?
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 21st, 2014 02:57 am (UTC)
My sincerest hope is that Martin takes the job with Swiss Air and ends up with Theresa, and Herc decides to stay with Carolyn, and becomes the pilot for MJN Air. As much as I would be sad to see Martin leave the little family, I want him to have a happy life, and I want MJN Air to carry on.

And I actually trust Finnemore to give us a happy ending for everyone, so whatever happens, I doubt it'll leave us with Douglas down and out.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 21st, 2014 03:01 am (UTC)
The way I hope it goes is that Swiss Air ends up purchasing MJN Air (maybe Herc or Douglas or both can somehow sort that) and use its one plane for cargo flights only. That way Gertie will still fly and every once in awhile Martin will get to travel with his old crew again.

Finnemore is the only writer I trust to not make this go dark or sad.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on April 21st, 2014 03:04 am (UTC)
Oooh, I like this plan, too.

I just want Martin Freakin' Crieff to end up with a princess. I just want that for him.