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Benedict Cumberbatch Flies to 'The Yellow Birds' for David Lowery

by
May 20, 2014
Source: ScreenDaily

Benedict Cumberbatch / Yellow Birds

Last year was a busy one for Benedict Cumberbatch with roles in The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, 12 Years a Slave, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. But the "Sherlock" star is slowing down a little bit with fewer projects in his immediate future like The Imitation Game and a voice in The Penguins of Madagascar. Now one more project has been added to his future slate as ScreenDaily has learned that he will star in an adaptation of The Yellow Birds, the novel by Iraq War veteran Kevin Powers. However, when you hear the story, it doesn't sound like Cumberbatch is in the lead.

The book follows 21-year old Private Bartle and 18-year-old Private Murphy who cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home after the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. Cumberbatch will likely play a commanding officer of some sort while Tye Sheridan (Mud, Joe) and Will Poulter (We're the Millers, The Maze Runner) take the lead roles. And bringing this whole package together will be Ain't Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery, so this sounds absolutely fantastic.

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  • DAVIDPD
    I want to watch it, but war films are so emotionally draining for me. I suppose the beat goes on...
  • Emmy Wong
    Cumberbatch's casting in The Hobbit was announced in 2011, it's just that his major part Smaug is in the 2nd installment released last year. The Fifth Estate was fast tracked by DreamWorks; in fact it pushed back Sherlock S3 filming a few months and caused quite some complaints from Sherlock fans; if TFE was shot as initially scheduled, which would be after Sherlock S3 warring up around May 2013, it's more likely it would be released this year, not in 2013. It's not Cumberbatch’s decision to have five major films coming out in 2013; it's more to do with the studios' business decisions. He's been planning on returning to the London stage according to his interviews at TIFF 2013, and it was initially set in summer/ autumn 2014 for Hamlet, which is now set in autumn 2015, due to his and the director's schedules and the availability of the suitable playhouse, i.e. a larger venue with enough security facilities to accommodate the amount of theatre fans and Cumberbatch fans, plus he was not “cast” to play Hamlet, it’s a major theatre project he initiated with a top West End & Broadway production company, which also produced the award winning hit shows, such as The Book of Mormon and Jerusalem. Usually together with the rehearsal time, if an actor is going to do a major theatre project like Hamlet, it means five or more months of a year are blocked on his schedule, and it won't be easily to fit other major film commitments. Cumberbatch already signed on James Gray's The Lost City of Z as the lead in August 2013 prior to his theatre project Hamlet was finalized; it's produced by Plan B and initially set to film in spring/ summer 2014, now is moved back a bit in Jan 2015, according to Gray's recent interview, due to the scale of the film and its logistics, Gray and the production team need more prep time. On top of these, Cumberbatch also already signed on the BBC's acclaimed Shakespeare production, a TV film Richard III, as the lead, and there's Sherlock S4 filming on the horizon; according to the co-creator Mark Gatiss, they (the major creative) are finally close to the point to agree on the filming dates. To be honest, such a schedule in 2014 and 2015 for an actor seems more than busy to me. He's an actor excelling in every performance platform and his responses to the questions as to whether he would give up Sherlock or the theatre for films, or specifically for Hollywood, have always been "No", and so far he’s proved his words by the projects he has been choosing. Good on him for not being vain and picking the discerning roles like Sargent Sterling in The Yellow Birds with an interesting emerging director at the helm. If you have read the novel, you'd know that it's a powerful story and Sterling is almost on every page in the book and is a role that’s quite a departure from the brainy roles that made many audiences first fall for him. With all due respect to Poulter and Sheridan, and I am just speaking as a matter of fact, it doesn't matter whether Cumberbatch’s part is a co-lead or a strong supporting role, there's a reason that the articles from the trades focusing on Cumberbatch's casting, so are the production company’s comments on its Twitter account. Don’t know when The Yellow Birds is going to start filming, but I am very looking forward to the end result; it’s really a great novel and I hope it will be a great film as well.

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