Benedict Cumberbatch hails unsung hero in 'The Imitation Game'

Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:02am EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Like many people, British actor Benedict Cumberbatch knew very little about Alan Turing, the genius mathematician he portrays in "The Imagination Game," who helped to hasten the end of World War Two by cracking Germany's wartime communications code.

Turing's top-secret work with cryptologists and math wizards at Britain's decryption center, Bletchley Park, saved countless lives by breaking Germany's Enigma machine code. But the computer pioneer received no credit, died a broken man, and was only pardoned for charges of homosexuality, a crime in 1952, 60 years after his death in 1954.

"I was shocked at how little I knew before reading the story," said Cumberbatch, 38, best known for leading roles in TV series "Sherlock" and "The Fifth Estate" film.

"It is such a heart-wrenching true story that needs to be heard. There is an urgency about presenting it to the world."

"The Imitation Game," is based on the book "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges, and opens in U.S. theaters on Friday.

The film pieces together Turing's story, work, relationships and injustices he suffered such as chemical castration because of his homosexuality.

British actress Keira Knightley ("Pirates of the Caribbean") is Joan Clarke, a brilliant mathematician and the only woman on Turing's decoding team. Clarke was briefly engaged to Turing and wanted to marry him, despite his homosexuality.

Cumberbatch's portrayal of the awkward, sensitive Turing has made him a contender for a Best Actor Oscar nomination and Morten Tyldum ("Headhunters") is tipped to a receive Best Director nod.   Continued...

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch arrives at the Hollywood Film Awards in Hollywood, California November 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok