Monday, October 3, 2022

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Benedict Cumberbatch Reflects On His Controversial Zoolander 2 Role

Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Benedict Cumberbatch has been a thespian’s thespian when it comes to acting on stage, film and television. His performances have earned him acclaim and multiple awards. And yet, like any celebrated actor, there are those questionable projects that pop up on Cumberbatch’s resume. One role, in particular, has haunted him for years – playing nonbinary fashion model All in Zoolander 2. Years removed from that character, the Doctor Strange 2 star chose to reflect on the controversy.

When Zoolander 2 hits theaters in 2016, the sequel was poorly received by both critics and audiences. Before the film even reached theaters, Benedict Cumberbatch’s All was already facing backlash for a cisgender male playing a nonbinary character. It served as a momentary bump in the Oscar nominee’s career, but the MCU star couldn’t help but bring up the lambasted cameo while chatting with Zoolander 2 co-star Penelope Cruz for Variety’s Actors on Actors. While they reconnected over the film, Cumberbatch opened about the media and online backlash he received.

There was a lot of contention around [his role as a nonbinary fashion model named All], understandably now. And I think in this era, my role would never be performed by anybody other than a trans actor. But 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. But it was lovely to meet you in that brief moment and to work with Ben [Stiller] and Owen [Wilson].

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