In need of a little inspiration after a hard days coding, I’m listening to the Star Trek: Into Darkness soundtrack; a cracking OST apart from the glaring omission of the end credits playout. Sorry getting distracted. Viewing this blu-ray last Wednesday gave me the push I needed to get off my arse and go to the con!
Camera and trusty autograph case in-hand, leapt in the car and sped off to Birmingham, not even sure if I was going to get in. Fortunately I did but with ticket No. 657. Only myself to blame … wow, the London Calling cue on the OST is sonically awesome! … soz … arriving at the event at an embarrassing 1.30pm I headed for the queue. Twas’ being wrangled expertly; with a big thanks to the lassie I kept badgering about now-serving ticket nos. you know who you are! Tempus Fugitt-ed (yes it’s a word) and somehow 3.15pm arrived and tickets 500 were just joining the queue. At this point I was really wondering at the wisdom of what I had laughingly called a “plan”.
Word filtered down that all attendees were to be allowed through and at 4.25pm there I stood, piccy-in-hand, agog in front of Benedict Cumberbatch 🙂 Not sure what he must have been thinking and feeling at this point considering he’d been signing for the best part of four and a half hours but he was gracious indeed! Heading off I noticed Louise Brealey was signing while sneaking chips off a nearby plate AND was stood up into the bargain. I wandered over and thanked her very much for being such a trooper. I would add that she returned to the signing room AFTER the closing ceremony to make sure everyone who wanted one got a signature. THAT’S suffering for your art ladies and gentle-odes and Sean if you read this please pass on my thanks to all the cast but especially those 2.
Heading in to Jonathan Aris’ talk I secured a photographically strategic seat considering I was not gold. Jonathan was a beguiling guest, great fun and up for all the usual con-questions. With the possible exception of the “Anderson shipping Sherlock” Q, which he sensibly side-stepped. Answering “what sort of music would you listen to, to unwind after a shitty day” with aplomb. “A shitty day, well it would depend and type of shit 🙂 ” Anything from classical, thru’ rock to a ballad that remembered from aged-13. The inevitable action-figure Q was asked to which JA replied “it would of course need a retractable beard, and its’ own door that could be slammed in its’ face by the Sherlock action figure!” Joking in the dying minutes of his talk that it was almost “Cumberbatch O’clock!”
5pm came and while Mr C was preparing for his talk, Lars Mikkelsen was a sport and actually juggled apples … straight from a Sainsbury’s bag, I kid you not and what’s more he was damn good!
And then like the crescendo of the music I’m listening to it WAS Cumberbatch o’clock. Benedict walked unassumingly onto stage with Sean Harry, no big build up was asked or given or indeed required. Someone sat nearby likened the scene to an Oestrogen Volcano (not my words!); all I can say is AWESOME. I reeled off some of my best (imho) photos during that first 5 minutes as BC stood and thanked everyone for coming, for the presents and was (not seemed) genuinely moved by the day. Even asking where the person from Shanghai was sat out in the crowd. Sharing out some of his Cumber-Cookies – where’s my TM symbol? – to the front few rows.
Sean had organised an interview-style talk with himself as host. I felt this helped Benedict and definitely put him at ease, he seemed (and I mean to use the word this time) almost awestruck. Yep, Benedict Cumberbatch almost awestruck. Of course he knows how popular he and his work is but it’s a different when you’re faced with 1,000 faces in an auditorium hanging on your every word and gesture, a “pinch-me” moment I’m sure. It cannot be understated at this point that Benedict IS a con-virgin; even Comic Con last year was only treated to a video appearance. Which is testimony to the professionalism and hard work Sean (and his team) have put in to secure this A-list guest. Bloody well done mate and your performance as host was also flawless, watch-out Graham Norton!
All of Benedict’s recent projects were discussed. “12 Years a Slave” very obviously was a special movie for him, he spoke passionately about his “small part” in it, yeah right! When asked how he was to play such an iconic Trek character he joked “I Kaan play it any way I like!” Groan. He was quite hard on himself regarding Sherlock, continuously honing the role and believes he has much more to show us of the character yet (not a pre-announcement for Season 4). A common theme throughout his work is his careful preparation and attention to characterisations be they fictitious – Kaan, Sherlock or biographical – Julian Assange, Steven Hawking. Acting as just a small window onto their lives. The last few years have been a whirlwind for him, quipping that during shooting of Sherlock’s second season he turned to Martin Freeman and asked “Did you see what I was in last year? Oh F*** it was this!” A man in demand.
All too soon 60 minutes had been all but chewed-up. BC was not done yet, twisting the interview into a “quick fire round for the last 5 minutes!”. How DO you say no to Benedict Cumberbatch exactly? He confessed he’d really enjoyed appearing with his parents and when asked an esoteric capital “A” Acting-type question (all questions were pre-submitted btw) responded with a veritable soliloquy (get me!) worthy of Hamlet, a character dear to him and whom he’s wished to play since school, an ambition he will shortly realise.
His character and personality are both ethereal and intoxicating and I count myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to meet this gentleman and listen to him speak. Just to be in the same damn room actually!
Sunday was a total flyer, sorry Sean 🙁 but though I bought ticket No. 657 (turns out there was a ticket 658) I was treated by the con team as if I held ticket No. 1. Business as usual at a Star Fury Convention