It was a month ago today when we found out that Benicio Del Toro had turned down a role as the primary villain of Star Trek 2. The news broke alongside multiple reports that the character Del Toro was in the running to play was the long-rumored Khan, the most iconic of Star Trek villains.
With the holidays approaching and principal photography beginning this month, J.J. Abrams and co. were in a hurry to find a replacement and names including Édgar Ramírez and Jordi Mollà quickly surfaced as potential replacements, but it is among the unlikeliest of actors where they may have found the film’s antagonist: Benedict Cumberbatch.
Cumberbatch may not be a recognizable name (yet) among American audiences but his unique face and memorable roles as of late should have struck a chord with savvy moviegoers and television aficianados. Quite simply, the man’s career has exploded this year and we can thank his masterful portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in BBC’s Sherlock series for propelling his career forward.
In addition to his roles in the critically acclaimed War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy this year, Cumberbatch has previously appeared in films including Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl, and will voice the key characters of Smaug the dragon and the Necromancer in The Hobbit.
While it is likely that Cumberbatch has been cast as the film’s primary villain, this news will undoubtedly confuse fans expecting a character reminiscent of Ricardo Montalban’s performance in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and that’s a good thing as no one wants an imitation. Regardless of whether or not the film will offer an alternate take on the character of Khan, Cumberbatch is an inspired choice as a villainous character opposite Captain Kirk and one that fans can easily get behind if they’ve seen his work.
Also making headlines today is another casting addition from the UK in the form of Noel Clarke (Doctor Who). Variety reports that Clarke will be playing a “family man with a wife and young daughter” in a smaller role, so take from that what you will.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Noel Clarke are joined by Alice Eve and Peter Weller as newcomers to the sequel which will of course bring back the entire crew of the USS Enterprise, including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin.
Star Trek 2 hits theaters on May 17, 2013.
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Sources: The Wrap, Variety