Benedict Cumberbatch To Play ‘Star Trek’ Villain

Those of us who have fallen for Benedict Cumberbatch, whether via the good graces of Sherlock or through some other exposure will be pleased to learn that in a bit of surprise casting, he’s to play the villain in the new Star Trek movie. I’ll be curious to see what that means for the tone of the conflict between Kirk and whatever baddie Cumberbatch ends up playing. Eric Bana’s Nero was a man moved to planetary destruction, to play a role in galactic affairs, by personal grief. Cumberbatch’s certainly capable of working in that key — he proved that in a few key, touching scenes in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in the most brilliant alteration to John Le Carre’s original work. But he’s also wonderful playing cold or strange. Unlike most maniacs who populate action films, Cumberbatch has practice playing people with fully realized alternate worldviews. And that’s really the key, isn’t it? If you can’t sell the idea that you’re really convinced that nuclear war is the best way to bring about world peace or that the death of your wife and your planet gives you the right to kill as many worlds as you want, there’s not going to be any dramatic tension. Those alternate perspectives are nigh-impossible to make compelling to an audience. But I think Cumberbatch will have fun chewing some scenery and whacked-out motivations, and we’ll have a delightful time watching him.