After scoring the incredible scoop that was leaking the script of the movie based on it, WikiLeaks has nabbed another searing exposé, in the form of leaking founder Julian Assange’s own emails. The site has posted what is ominously described as the “first” of several such correspondences, in which Assange explains his frustrations at length to Fifth Estate star and Greenwich-area council estate Benedict Cumberbatch. (Tenants should be advised, batches of cumber are not guaranteed by housing association.) Across 10 pages of correspondence—with each sentence separated by a space, thus making it all the easier for transfer to inspirational cross-stitch—Assange articulates his dismay at the movie’s portrayal of him as a control freak egomaniac by telling the actor to quit the film, because it tarnishes his importance to millions.
As the letter is very long and repetitive—and missing only the recounting of dying oxen and diphtheria in its occasional resemblance to a dramatic missive sent from a soon-to-be war widow—here are just a few excerpts, which you should read aloud while listening to mournful Irish flute:
I think I would enjoy meeting you.
The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.
If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.
Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion.
I believe that you are a decent person, who would not naturally wish to harm good people in dire situations.
You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth.
Not because you want to, of course you don't, but because, in the end, you are a jobbing actor who gets paid to follow the script, no matter how debauched.
I believe you are well intentioned but surely you can see why it is a bad idea for me to meet with you.
By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give.
It is contrary to my interests, and to those of my organisation, and I thank you for your offer, and what I am sure is your genuine intent, but I must, with inexpressible regret, turn it down.
Alas, that “inexpressible” regret that nevertheless found itself expressed across 10 pages did not, as the film’s debut has made obvious, ultimately sway Cumberbatch from making it—no matter how exhaustively articulated, convincingly argued, or cryptically threatened in the prospect of Assange and Cumberbatch being “forever entwined,” whatever that means. (Attention Tumblr: Don't draw it.) Assange can now only hope that, somehow, the importance of WikiLeaks’ work is not overshadowed by other things that make Julian Assange look like a self-aggrandizing narcissist.