Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch on what makes him Grinchy

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&e - BRYAN ALEXAN­DER

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch is mean, green and ready to joy­fully snarl through the hol­i­days in “The Grinch.”The English ac­tor, 42, has played can­tan­ker­ous ge­nius types, from Mar­vel’s Doc­tor Strange to Sher­lock Holmes. But Cum­ber­batch knew he was step­ping up that game re­vis­it­ing the con­niv­ing Grinch from Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) chil­dren’s book and the clas­sic Chuck Jones 1966 TV spe­cial “How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas!”

“That’s the joy: Vi­car­i­ously or not, you get a thrill out of some of his mean­ness,” says Cum­ber­batch, speak­ing by phone from New York, where the an­i­mated movie pre­mièred last week with an av­o­cado-green car­pet. But there’s Grinch love, too, in the new ver­sion.

Q: Sen­si­tive ac­tors would hate that call say­ing, “You’re the per­fect Grinch!” How did that go down?

Cum­ber­batch: I have my mo­ments. But, I thought, “Christ, it’s a bit early for be­ing called out as a Grinch, isn’t it?” One of my first ques­tions, in all se­ri­ous­ness was, why me? They said, “We love your voice.” So I gave them a Grinch voice, quite an­i­mal-y with an Amer­i­can di­alect. They went, “No, we’d like your voice.” Then I got it. They saw a cor­re­la­tion be­tween cast­ing Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as the Grinch. They saw Sher­lock, and out­siders, some­what so­cially awk­ward, who can be oc­ca­sion­ally rude. I said, “I might not be the right guy.” I had to stick to my guns: “You can­not re­lease a film with an English Grinch. It’s got to be an Amer­i­can.”

Is your ar­gu­ment un­der­mined by the fact that English ac­tor Boris Karloff voiced the Grinch in the orig­i­nal TV spe­cial with a Bri­tish ac­cent?

Cum­ber­batch: Did he? I haven’t seen the orig­i­nal. I loved the book but haven’t seen ei­ther of the other ver­sions (the TV spe­cial or the 2000 Jim Car­rey movie). I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing both now that I’m free of them in­flu­enc­ing what I was do­ing. But there is some­thing clas­si­cally Amer­i­can in the rhyming scheme that lends it­self much more to an Amer­i­can ac­cent.

Does the Grinch of­fer free­dom to be grumpy over the hol­i­days?

Cum­ber­batch: There are cer­tain things that are go­ing to grind you down. I’ve worked in a shop over the Christ­mas sea­son, with the hol­i­day track re­peat­ing. It drives you in­sane. And your Christ­mas spirit gets re­ally, re­ally tested. I’m not as high on Christ­mas as the Whos of Whoville. But I’m not as Grinchy about it as the Grinch. I’m some­where in a happy English, cyn­i­cal, medium place about the whole thing.

What hol­i­day as­pect brings out your Grinch?

Cum­ber­batch: Def­i­nitely plas­tic winds me up at Christ­mas with the amount of waste and short-term joy. Be­yond that, I’m hu­man be­hind the wheel. Ev­ery­one can get lost within their world and feel like they are driv­ing on Mount Crumpit and the world is at fault. I can get Grinchy in a car. I get quite Grinchy when I’m hun­gry or jet-lagged. That hap­pens. But I don’t have too much to get Grinchy about, hon­estly. And I love Christ­mas for the rea­sons this film cel­e­brates.

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch voices the Grinch.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.