Benedict Cumberbatch signs on for the lead in ‘The Lost City of Z’: great casting?


Benedict Cumberbatch will not be a Son of Solo. He will not be a Jedi Knight, nor will he be Darth Cumber, the Dark Side of the Force. For several days, all of the Cumberbitches and Star Wars fans were falling over themselves about the possibility that Benedict could be cast as someone or something in Star Wars Episode VII. But it is not happening. Cumby’s rep told various media outlets: “There is no truth to the rumour Benedict has been cast in Star Wars. I think the rumours are circling because JJ and Benedict have just recently had a wonderful time working together on Star Trek.”

So, okay, he’s not doing Star Wars. Fine. But then why did he pull out of Crimson Peak? (Sidenote: I keep writing Crimson Tide, so bear with me.) Was the film really a mess? Or did Benedict really want to form a Fassbender-like alliance with Brad Pitt?! Yes, after working with both Pitt (as actor/producer) and Michael Fassbender on 12 Years a Slave, Cumberbatch has now signed on to star in yet another Pitt-produced film. Not only that, but the role was originally going to be played by Brad! For years now (like, since 2008), Brad and his Plan B producers have been trying to put together a film adaptation of The Lost City of Z. Brad was going to play the lead back in 2008, but in 2010 he finally dropped out. And now Cumberbatch is IN.

Here’s a testament that good projects sometimes rise above development hell. Benedict Cumberbatch, who figures to be a big man on campus at the Toronto Film Festival with 12 Years A Slave, The Fifth Estate and August: Osage County getting big premieres, is negotiating to star in Lost City Of Z, which James Gray will direct from a script he adapted. Panorama Media will finance the film and handle foreign sales.

The film is based on the David Grann bestselling book. Cumberbatch is in talks to play Percy Fawcett, who in 1925 headed into the depths of the Amazon jungles in Brazil. Fawcett was there to map the jungle and, hobbled by malaria, he discovered a mythical city he called The Lost City Of Z. Scorned by peers who claimed that this ancient kingdom was a fraud, Fawcett headed back into the jungle with his son and one other, braving the dangers of disease, insects, snakes, poison darts and other hazards to reinforce his discovery. None of them were ever seen again and it remains one of the great exploration mysteries of the 20th Century.

Plan B‘s Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas (who worked with Cumberbatch on 12 Years A Slave) will produce. Plan B has been developing the project for several years, and it initially seemed like Pitt would be heading into the jungles. Cumberbatch most recently starred in Star Trek Into Darkness and has The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug coming later this year and will play Alan Turing in the Morten Tyldum-directed Imitation Game that’s backed by Black Bear Pictures. He seems an intriguing choice to play Fawcett and is certainly a fast-rising leading man.

[From Deadline]

Looking up Percy Fawcett… well, the guy was British! So Brad would have been a bad choice to play him in the first place because accent work really isn’t Brad’s forte. So on that, Benedict is a fine choice. As for the story… it’s interesting and I can see how it would make a wonderful book, but a difficult film adaptation. There’s no real ending to the story because no one knows for sure what happened to Fawcett when he went back into the jungle. So are they going to create some kind of “Hollywood Ending” for the story? Dunno.

What I definitely think is interesting is this whole idea that Benedict is now one of Brad Pitt’s go-to guys. You know how much Brad loves Michael Fassbender, right? Imagine if Brad’s love extends to Cumberbatch now… God, this awards season is going to be amazing.

Also: Cumby has a new interview with The Express which you can read here. The quotes seem new but he’s talking about the same old stuff.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Fame/Flynet.

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80 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch signs on for the lead in ‘The Lost City of Z’: great casting?”

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  1. T.fanty says:

    Eve! Cumby is coming to Brazil!! Time to dress up like a tiger and wait in the jungle until he wanders by.

    Also, I had no idea this book existed, but now I want to read it. It sounds like a really fun, old-fashioned adventure.

  2. LadyMTL says:

    Oooh, I loved the book and I think that Cumby will be a great fit (and I’m not a fan of his). I can already see him trekking through the jungle and being all explorer-y, lol.

  3. Anna says:

    So….an adventure flick? Hm, somehow I dont buy Cumby as a wilderness conqueror. But he IS a good actor, so we will have to see.

    PS-LOVE that WHERE cover. He looks so charming and boyish!

  4. Amelia says:

    T.Fanty, didn’t Eve divorce him, or have I lost the plot again?
    I can definitely see Cumby in this role. A more adventurous 20′s version of Christopher Tietjens.

    • T.fanty says:

      Oh my god. You had to invoke Tiejens. Now *I’m* going to dress up and hide in the jungle.

      Technically, I think she did. But she’ll be back. She can’t quit him. Or us.

    • Amelia says:

      Have fun getting Tietjens in the jungle out of your head!
      For some reason I’ve got an image of him dressed up like Livingston plastered in my brain. Complete with beige waistcoat and straw pith hat.

      • T.fanty says:

        Oh the hat and waistcoat are a must. Although I worry that it’s going to be more evocative of the man in the yellow hat from Curious George.

      • curlsunited says:

        This reminds me of the final scene in “A Handful of Dust”, based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh, where a young, sunburnt James Wilby, with a glorious mop of golden curls, participates in an expedition into the Brazilian jungle (and ends up reading Dickens to Alec Guinness forever). I imagine Cumby as a dark-haired version of this, in white linen shirt and trousers, every now and then mopping his brow with a handkerchief …

      • T.Fanty says:

        Substitute the hankerchief with my knickers and I’m 100% on board.

        Wow. He’s going to be very sweaty in this. I like the thought of that.

      • curlsunited says:

        So you wouldn’t mind the Sherlock-goes-jungle-curls on which I would insist? Great news. Then I wouldn’t mind those bits of your underwear (which I expect – just for historical correctness – to be in 1920s fashion, right?).

      • T.Fanty says:

        Sherlock curls are only allowed when the “twist and diffuse” lady is guaranteed to be on hand. I don’t want sweaty, limp strands of hair stuck to his alien forehead, like a bijou poodle who has just jumped in a lake.

        Plus, I’m smitten with Christopher Tiejens and that uptight Edwardian look, so short hair is fine by me. I also wouldn’t mind if he wore his blue suit into the jungle.

      • EscapedConvent says:

        It’s going to be hot in the Amazon. Won’t he have to take off his shirt?

      • EscapedConvent says:


        Jorts, Fanty. Jorts.

      • EscapedConvent says:

        There is probably something very wrong with me for wanting to see Cumby in a pith helmet. I just hope he has a pocket watch.

      • curlsunited says:

        @TFanty: Chrissie Tietjens curls are fine with me. They were wonderfully impeccable in the trenches or after a foggy night with Miss Wannop, therefore a wise choice for the rainforest.
        @EscCon: Wouldn’t he have to take off all his clothes to take a shower in the torrential rain à la “To the End of the Earth”? And there’s daily rainfall in the tropics!

      • T.Fanty says:

        I’m starting to just kind of want someone to send Cumby into a jungle for a week with a backpack, pair of jorts, a lot of cigarettes, and a video camera. I think it would be hilarious.

      • Amelia says:

        I think there’s a short story in there somewhere.
        His cigarettes get stolen by a monkey and he has to barter them back by doing errands/chores for their monkey master (T.Fanty, dressed up like the members of the Lubby-Dubby tribe from Carry On Up the Jungle.)

      • T.Fanty says:

        That’s better than my gay remake of the Indiana Jones movies. I’d make a great Barbara Windsor, and you know Cumby has his Sid James cackle down pat. My only question is who could play Kenneth Williams?

        *side eye to a certain cookie-munching dragonfly king*

      • EscapedConvent says:


        Oh! Thank you for reminding me of his rainfall shower in “To The Ends Of The Earth”! He was so, so cute. Plus, I believe it was the first time the Cumberbum was shown on film, & a girl never forgets her first Cumberbum, does she?

        (I really loved To The Ends Of The Earth, especially after he got bonked on the head & acted like a goose over Miss Chumley.)

        Cumby had many wonderful scenes in this series, & my very favorite was the scene in which he’s drinking with some of the ship’s Officers. The ship is pitching so violently that he gets thrown around the room, but is careful to keep catching the bottle of Scotch as it slides up & down the table. The men are sick, but the bottle stays in perfect condition.

        Cumby is quite good at physical comedy.

  5. Lindy79 says:

    He SO has the look for this kind of project. I really hope that it happens, it sounds pretty great!

  6. Allons-y Alonso says:

    I haven’t read the book but I’ve heard very good things. I shall sit and wait patiently for the film. God knows, waiting for a 3rd series of Sherlock is an endurance trial for patience. I’m a pro at it now.

  7. taxi says:

    Is his forehead growing? As in receding hairline?

  8. Beth says:

    Tell you what. Conversion to Cumberbitch Status takes about 1.5 seconds of Sherlock. I’m obsessed.

  9. MissMary says:

    This could go very well for BC or very very badly… I have visions of Tarzan remakes (even though this is NOTHING like Tarzan) dancing in my head.

  10. Spooks says:

    I like him, I do. But, could he please go away for a while because he will become to annoying. He’s always in the media these days.

  11. Chrissy says:

    Not gonna lie, I’m kinda meh about this news. I was disappointed that he dropped out of Crimson Peak and I was hoping that it was because he had signed up for a BIG movie that was going to get him a lot of attention and advance his career. This just feels like a lateral move at best or even maybe a step down. He’s signed on to play Some British Dude. Awesome. We’ve never seen him do that before…

  12. Bodhi says:

    Yes!! The book is great & I think Cumby will do a fine job.

  13. Vesta says:

    Well, anything involving Mr. Pitt makes me skeptical at first, but then I saw James Gray is adapting the script and directing. His “The Yards” and “We Own The Night” had some intensity that I kind of liked. So this sounds promising in a way; might become something interesting and has box-office potential I guess.

    As for casting – anything situated in the 1920s and Cumby should fit like glove. After all it was his old fashioned awkwardness that melted my bitchy heart in the first place…

    • lisa2 says:

      Brad makes great film choices. And his production company has had great success. If you think this would have been made with Brad being involved.. think again. BC has not carried a film before. And trust without a big name behind it; this would not have gotten financed. That is exactly what Steve M. said about TYAS.. without Brad no film. YOU can make a film but it takes distribution to get it out there.

      People need to step off. Brad has power in Hollywood to get the films he wants made.

  14. Abby says:

    You guys I am extremely happy to share this news

    @BAFTA: BREAKING NEWS: @BAFTALA to honour Benedict Cumberbatch with the British Artist of the Year award: #Britannias

    FINALLY he gets the Bafta….well deserved

  15. Stef Leppard says:

    Brad loves the letter Z apparently.

    • Tasha says:

      I know right WWZ, Lost City of Z, their another movie he in talk to do that has Z in the tittle and then there is the most important Z of them all Zahara.

      On the other hand Zahara could just be picking all of these movies for dad to do because they all have Z in it.

  16. Lindy79 says:

    Sherlock curls are gone ladies. Theres a pic on instagram when I was looking at pictures from #tiff

    It’s blurry and profile but he looks delicious

  17. mended says:

    i was watching some of the live feeds from the carpet and damn our boy look GOOD! but he did seem overwhelmed by the media. still he did make an effort to talk to everyone (they were running late because of this). he had to answer the same questions over and over. his flight had just got in 4 hours ago.

    early buzz for the movie is good but we won’t really know until tomorrow.

    i think he may be realizing now what an international phenomenon he’s become. this may be part of why he looked overwhelmed.

    • MissMary says:

      Some people were kvetching that he didn’t spend “enough” time with the fans, was hurried, etc, but I didn’t see anything showing he was being rude or cold to ‘em. I think he really was overwhelmed by the media (he’s seemed so in the past, too-as much as he wants to be known, I think it’s still a bit wtf when you have cameras in your face and people shouting at you).

  18. Abby says:

    Guys I met him at TIFF. Holy fk he is even more beautiful in person like no lies. He gave me an autograph and sai thanks for coming. I asked him how are you? (I know stupid thing to ask but my brain wasnt functioning) he replied saying he is a bit jet lagged but he slept on the plane.

    Then he said thanks and left…I had eye contact with him like 4 times. I am just done with life like 100%

    • Sammie says:

      Funny everyone says that when they meet him that he is more beautiful in person. My friend met him a few months ago on the Sherlock set in person and she was one of those girls who was like “meh” about him and always called him an alien hybrid. Lol. But after she met him she has developed a HUGE crush on him and watched all his interviews and movies, radio plays etc. haha. Lucky you. I can’t wait til I meet him one day. Congrats.

  19. Lindy79 says:

    He looked gorgeous, his hair was just perfect, that style suited him so well.I know this is odd but I just love the way he holds his hands when standing.
    Ive noticed it for ages.