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November 15, 2017 11:36 am  #1


His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

We started discussing this in the Dr. Strange thread, and I think it would be an interesting topic on it's own.

As we all know, Ben has had several roles where he has played quirky/anti-social/arrogant geniuses in various fields. So much so that people have wondered if he's being typecast and there has been discussions, quite natural I think, on the similarities of these characters.

Ben has said himself that the similarities are very superficial ("arrogant genius") and if you scratch the surface, they are all very different people. I agree with him on this.

So, a list of his genius roles:

Sherlock
Alan Turing
Khan
Hawking
Dr. Strange

Some would also put Assange in that category, but I am not sure if I agree with that. Assange is clearly a smart man, but I am not sure if he is the level of genius that the other men in this category are.

The one thing all these men have in common is that they are all geniuses in their respective field. As for arrogant, I will say that I find only Sherlock and Dr. Strange to be truly arrogant of the lot. (I can't remember the details of Khan, I've only seen the movie once a few years back, but I don't remember him coming across as particularly arrogant). I don't view Turing as arrogant - he lacks social cues which means that he is honest to the point of being blunt, but it's only meant as honesty, not to be arrogant. 

If you look at Sherlock and Turing, the two are actually almost polar opposites. Sherlock strides confidently into a room, full of charisma and self-assurance. He hides his self-doubts behind a mask of "the sociopath", staring people down, acting cold and rude so that no one can get too close.

Turing is the opposite - he rarely keeps eye contact, eyes flickering away all the time. He slumps over, having a lower posture, his entire demeanour is much more meak and quiet. 

Sherlock and Dr. Strange seem a bit more similar at first glance. They are both devoted to their work above everything else, and they are both very arrogant, thinking that the world revolves around themselves. However, there are also great differences. Dr. Strange (before the accident) places value in things like materialism, money, status and women - Sherlock couldn't care less for any of these things. Dr. Strange embraces the luxury of life, Sherlock has deliberately chosen to abstain.

They both go through a tough jorney to learn humility and to focus on something other than themselves. Sherlock focuses on those close to him, and will sacrifice his own happiness to save them. Dr. Strange does the same, only with the world at large instead of just those close to him. 

Hawking is more of a "normal" person, only being a genius in his field. He is not partiuclarly arrogant, nor is he particularly lacking in social graces. He's not particularly selfish nor particularly altruistic. He is just an everyday person in who he is, except for his discovery and work.

Khan differs from everyone seeing as he is an engineered superhuman and a "villain", someone who the caliber of Sherlock and Dr. Strange would have fought against. He is much more ruthless than any of the others, and will do absolutely everything, including murder, without blinking an eyelid to get what he wants. He lacks any kind of humility or empathy (except for his own crew), and is more of a "fantasy" (sci-fi) character.

What are your thoughts?


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November 15, 2017 12:41 pm  #2


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Very interesting idea, Vhanja. I would include Stephen Ezard from "The Last Enemy" who is described on Wikipedia quite aptly:

The story is told through the eyes of a mathematical genius, Stephen Ezard, who is portrayed as a recluse showing some signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder. But the shy genius, played by Cumberbatch with many pre-echoes of his later, celebrated Sherlock Holmes' brittle reclusive, overcomes his own inhibitions ...

I find it fascinating how Benedict gives life to these characters whose genius is the only common feature. I agree about Strange and Sherlock being the only truly arrogant characters and even these two are completely different from each other. 
 


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"To fake the death of one sibling may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake the death of both looks like carelessness." Oscar Wilde about Mycroft Holmes

"It is what it is says love." (Erich Fried)

“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame. I’m also a great believer in treating others as you would like to be treated.” (Benedict Cumberbatch)

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November 15, 2017 1:11 pm  #3


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Ah, yes, I haven't watched The Last Enemy so I can't comment on his character there. (Now I want to watch it!).

Yes, I agree, these characters are very different from each other in terms of personality.


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November 15, 2017 2:41 pm  #4


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Well, unfortunately "The last enemy", in spite of B. acting skills never convinces fully as a character. There are some similarities between Ezard and Turing, but he is not round enough character to be really interesting.

Very good idea for the thread, Vanhja!

 

November 15, 2017 6:24 pm  #5


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Well, to me all the guys on your list came across as arrogant at some point in the movie - the beginning for Turing and Dr. Strange, a short moment in the middle for Hawking, quite a few moments for Sherlock and I don't remember anything but a general impression for Khan but that impression was him being convinced of his superiority and letting people know it (granted, with some justification - as for the others).

I've never claimed more resemblance than that for most of the roles. However, as far as Sherlock and Dr. Strange are concerned, I'm not imagining the similarities (already listed in the Dr. Strange thread). Marvel fanboys see them too and talk about Dr. Strange wearing Dr. Palmer's watch to "remember the great gal that stuck by his side, even back when he was acting like a total Sherlock" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32VkKAXNkqs at 1'), or the "Sherlock moment undercut by the helpful coat" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJz7xKJRNf8 at 8:23)

And I wonder whether that was a deliberate ploy to include Sherlock fans into the MCU fandom... Does anybody know anything about the overlap - before and after Doctor Strange?

 

November 15, 2017 6:26 pm  #6


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

I definitely think the Marvel team have chosen popular actors and certainly Benedict will have impressed in Sherlock...


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November 15, 2017 8:48 pm  #7


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

I have never read Dr. Strange, but I always assumed that his personality was taken from the comics, not inspired by Sherlock.

I don't view a character as being arrogant, that is to say that arrogant is a main feature of the character, if they show it in one or two scenes out of many. That would mean that Khan is a warm and caring persona because he cried in pain over his lost crew. He might care about them, but that is not a main feature of his character.


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November 17, 2017 10:44 am  #8


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Vhanja wrote:

I have never read Dr. Strange, but I always assumed that his personality was taken from the comics, not inspired by Sherlock.

I agree (though I haven't read Dr. Strange either). And I believe that Benedict Cumberbatch was cast for the role because (parts of) his portrayal of Sherlock corresponded to how the director wanted Dr. Strange portrayed.

Vhanja wrote:

I don't view a character as being arrogant, that is to say that arrogant is a main feature of the character, if they show it in one or two scenes out of many.

Okay, I'll give you Stephen Hawking as not arrogant. However, the first approx. 10 minutes of The Imitation Game span most of Alan Turings adult life - from the job interview at Bletchley Park to  being arrested, presented in reverse order. And in both situations he's shown as arrogant - there is no suggestion of a development.

Vhanja wrote:

That would mean that Khan is a warm and caring persona because he cried in pain over his lost crew. He might care about them, but that is not a main feature of his character.

I'll need to watch Star Trek into Darkness again, but as far as I remember I never saw Khan as the main villain of the movie or had trouble understanding his motivations... (but then I remember the original Khan who hated Kirk because he held him responsible for getting his beloved wife and much of his crew killed which connects back to the original series - the whole pre-story that's missing from the remake. What were they thinking?)

To go back to Vhanja's original post, right now I'm at Benedict Cumberbatch playing four arrogant geniuses: Sherlock, Khan, Alan Turing and Dr. Strange,

one not-arrogant genius: Stephen Hawking

and one arrogant not-genius: Assange

Considering that BC hasn't made all that many movies, I do think that shows a tendency towards being typecast. Which might be just one of the reasons why he started his own production company...
 

 

November 17, 2017 6:09 pm  #9


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

He chooses his roles and has rejected many. 
I don't see him typecast at all.
I honestly don't know if I can be bothered to list all of his roles, but he has made many, fims- TV or big screen.
Look at his IMDB?
But if you are not satisfied with him as an actor, I guess that is your perogative.
This is not a Benedict fan site.
I just disagree with you: his stunning portrayals of Van Gogh, James in Third Star are just two to mention.

Last edited by besleybean (November 18, 2017 8:30 am)


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November 17, 2017 10:57 pm  #10


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

I see a similarity between dr Strange and Sherlock; they are arrogant because they know they are "good" and they love being the smartest man in the room. They both got punished for their hubris: Strange - car accident (but it is only the beginning of the long way to the humility) Sherlock by "Norbury" incident.

The whole point with Touring, I think, is that he seems arrogant, but it is not his intention. (at least how he is portrayed in the film). Unlike Strange & Sherlock he doesn't care about being admired and acclaimed.

Khan is arrogant, but in a different way than S&S. He "knows" he is better because he has been engineered as such, but his arrogance stems from believing, that being better he cannot be beaten by a "weaker" opponent, such a Spock. And yet again, his hubris is the motive of his ruin, but in this case, it is all more tragic because he was not interested in personal glory, but in saving his people.

Last edited by miriel68 (November 17, 2017 10:58 pm)

 

November 18, 2017 10:13 am  #11


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

besleybean wrote:

....He chooses his roles and has rejected many. 
I don't see him typecast at all. ...

Maybe I misunderstand the word, but I thought typecast referred to what casting directors think of an actor and which roles they offer him? And when I think of an actor being "typecast", I think of what movies roles Hollywood offers him. And of the 8 Hollywood roles I find on IMDd (counting Dr. Strange as one in both films), 6 were major ones (if you count John Ford as major even though he doesn't make it on the "first billed only" list) , 4 of which portrayed an AA and/or genius (I haven't seen The Current War, but I suppose Edison was a genius).

Nobody denies that Benedict Cumberbatch has done a lot of interesting work outside of Hollywood - but Hollywood is what counts in the film business.

miriel68 wrote:

....

Khan is arrogant, but in a different way than S&S. He "knows" he is better because he has been engineered as such, but his arrogance stems from believing, that being better he cannot be beaten by a "weaker" opponent, such a Spock. And yet again, his hubris is the motive of his ruin, but in this case, it is all more tragic because he was not interested in personal glory, but in saving his people.

I love the idea of Khan as the movie's tragic hero! Now I really must get hold of it again!

 

 

November 18, 2017 12:01 pm  #12


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Vhanja wrote:

Sherlock and Dr. Strange seem a bit more similar at first glance. They are both devoted to their work above everything else, and they are both very arrogant, thinking that the world revolves around themselves. However, there are also great differences. Dr. Strange (before the accident) places value in things like materialism, money, status and women - Sherlock couldn't care less for any of these things. Dr. Strange embraces the luxury of life, Sherlock has deliberately chosen to abstain.

What an interesting thread. There are definitely some similarities. I wonder if when the director is casting the roles and visualising how the end product will look like they are naturally drawn to actors who have excellently portrayed a similar role in the past. That is not a criticism of BC as someone only able to play a particular type as it is obviously not the case. 

The idea of Sherlock choosing to abstain from luxuries made me wonder. He is less flashy about it than Dr Strange for sure. However his coat costs more than a second-hand car, his drugs of choice are not cheap and he travels around London in taxis. Not exactly a puritan lifestyle. Whilst he does not spend money for the case of spending he does not deny himself luxury either. A minor point in the overall discussion I admit.

 

November 18, 2017 3:19 pm  #13


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

That is a good point, belis. Sherlock does indulge in some luxury. I think his choice of clothing is part of his social mask - to be an eye-catcher, charismatic and interesting. Taking cabs seems to me to be more about convenience than luxury. We also see that Dr. Strange loves spotlight and attention, whileas Sherlock can't wait to get away from it. (Beginning of TRF).

 


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November 19, 2017 1:48 pm  #14


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

belis wrote:

... I wonder if when the director is casting the roles and visualising how the end product will look like they are naturally drawn to actors who have excellently portrayed a similar role in the past. ...

I'm convinced they are, if the circumstances are right (i. e. there was a similar role, the actor is still alive, and available, and affordable, and interested). Or they might have seen something they liked when the actor was playing a seemingly completely different role (Stephen Spielberg chose Eric Bana for Munich based on his performance in the human parts of Hulk). But I'm sure that it's a lot easier for an actor to get offered a role if the director can see in a previous performance that he will be right for the part.
 

 

November 19, 2017 3:38 pm  #15


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Kittyhawk wrote:

 Or they might have seen something they liked when the actor was playing a seemingly completely different role (Stephen Spielberg chose Eric Bana for Munich based on his performance in the human parts of Hulk). 
 

Yes, I remember Moftis saying thy wanted to cast Ben as Sherlock after watching him in Atonement. I have never seen the connection and have no idea what they saw in his performance in such a role that lead them to think that he would make a good Sherlock. They were right, of course, I just don't see what they saw.


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November 19, 2017 6:43 pm  #16


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Possibly that's why they are top actors(in Mark's case) , producers and writers...and we are not!


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November 19, 2017 7:50 pm  #17


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

I've wondered about the Atonement thing too, because his character there is nothing like Sherlock!  But he is fantastic in it, and maybe they were able to see potential in the way he conveyed the character and his voice, and looks and physicality.  The character is very unlikeable but also very watchable.

 

November 22, 2017 2:34 pm  #18


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

Kittyhawk wrote:

I love the idea of Khan as the movie's tragic hero! Now I really must get hold of it again! 

One of the critics called Khan "shakepearean" villain and I really see him as a kind of tragic hero - or antihero, if you want.

TBH I must confess I feel very uncomfortable with STiD ending, because it seems after all Khan WAS right: the Starfleet is the enemy". It is not only Marcus: we can see that supposedly "good guys" let Khan's people rot in hibernation indefinitely, which is if fact death sentence.
Also, if Kirk's crew was taken hostage (which did happen in Star Trek beyond, but the irony was evidently lost to the producers) he still would be a "good guy" fighting for the justice, no matter what measures taken. Something about this is troubling me deeply.
The history is written by the winners...

 

November 23, 2017 11:16 am  #19


Re: His "genius roles" - differences and similarities

miriel68 wrote:

... history is written by the winners...

Absolutely! (I loved Braveheart.) For me the main villain of Star Trek into Darkness has always and undoubtely been Admiral Marcus - but then I'm always willing to think the worst of the military. And I've never liked the movie because the story didn't quite make sense to me... (after the brilliant reboot I found it very disappointing)

(OT: Which is why I'm really pissed off that I need to buy the DVD if I want to see it again because somebody nicked it from the library!)

Youtube to the rescue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnZJjNjMg98 - Khan as tragic hero...

Last edited by Kittyhawk (January 17, 2018 2:15 pm)

 

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