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Benedict Cumberbatch Says Non-Binary Role In Zoolander 2 'Backfired'

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Benedict Cumberbatch Says Non-Binary Role In Zoolander 2 'Backfired'

Benedict Cumberbatch has acknowledged criticism of his widely-panned appearance as a non-binary model in Zoolander 2, saying that the character 'backfired'.

Cumberbatch appeared in the star-studded 2016 sequel to the cult movie as 'All', a non-binary model that drew scorn from LGBTQ+ advocates and led to calls for the movie to be boycotted.

A petition opposing the character described them as a 'over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals', adding that Cumberbatch's portrayal was 'the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority'.

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Benedict Cumberbatch in Zoolander 2 (Alamy)
Benedict Cumberbatch in Zoolander 2 (Alamy)

As with other cases involving cisgender actors cast to play trans people, the petition also called out the failure to cast non-binary models and actors, saying, 'If the producers and screenwriters of Zoolander wanted to provide social commentary on the presence of trans/androgyne individuals in the fashion industry, they could have approached models like Andreja Pejic to be in the film,' per Gay Times.

Now, some 6 years later, Cumberbatch has revealed that while he would not take on the role now, at the time he did not recognise the issue with a cis man playing a non-binary character.

'There was a lot of contention around the role, understandably now. And I think in this era, my role would never be performed by anybody other than a trans actor,' he told Penelope Cruz during a conversation for Variety's Actors on Actors series.

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'I remember at the time not thinking of it necessarily in that regard, and it being more about two dinosaurs, two heteronormative clichés not understanding this new diverse world. But it backfired a little bit.'

Benedict Cumberbatch (Alamy)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Alamy)

Cumberbatch's comments come after he told a panel last year that he felt 'very sensitive about representation, diversity, and inclusion', but questioned whether actors should be made to confirm their 'sexual history' in order to take on roles.

Speaking following a screening of The Power of the Dog, in which his character is alluded to but never confirmed to be queer, the Doctor Strange actor said, 'One of the appeals of the job was the idea that in this world, with this specific character, there was a lot that was private, hidden from view...I also feel slightly like, is this a thing where our dance card has to be public? Do we have to explain all our private moments in our sexual history? I don’t think so.'

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Film & TV, LGBTQ, Film and TV

Hannah Smith
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