‘The Fifth Estate’ Trailer & Images: Cumberbatch & Condon Take On WikiLeaks

Published 2 years ago by

Bill Condon has spent the last few years wading around in Twilight territory, but now that he has both halves of Breaking Dawn under his belt, he’s ready to return to making the sort of high-profile, real-life dramas he’s known for.

If the first trailer for The Fifth Estate suggests anything, it’s that Condon feels very passionate about his story, which is that of WikiLeaks founder and controversial journalist/activist Julian Assange; there’s a possibility that he feels too strongly, as the clip hints at a film that will almost certainly receive polarized audience reactions.

The Fifth Estate looks to cover a great deal of ground in the life of Assange and WikiLeaks, rather than focusing on the events which brought the whistleblower and his website to international attention in 2010. What’s less clear is how the film will dramatize those incidents.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Following Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Brühl), an early supporter and eventual colleague of Julian Assange (Cumberbatch), “The Fifth Estate” traces the heady, early days of WikiLeaks, culminating in the release of a series of controversial and history changing information leaks. The website’s overnight success brought instant fame to its principal architects and transformed the flow of information to news media and the world at large.

Condon has assembled a phenomenal cast to his cause here, and wherever viewers fall on The Fifth Estate‘s politics, there’s a good chance everyone will be able to agree on acting. Most notable, of course, is Benedict Cumberbatch, whose 2013 began with Star Trek Into Darkness and will end with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (with The Fifth Estate and 12 Years a Slave serving as buffers between them), portraying Assange himself. This could be the film that gets him the most awards exposure this year, but time will tell on that score.

He’s joined by Daniel Bruhl, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, Stanely Tucci, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, and Carice van Houten, each playing roles both real (Bruhl plays Assange’s WikiLeaks cohort Daniel Domscheit-Berg, while Thewlis plays British investigative journalist Nick Davies) and imagined (Linney, Mackie, and Tucci appear to be playing either fictitious characters or composites). Even if The Fifth Estate ends up playing loose with facts or painting a biased portrait of Assange, the film should showcase some stand-out work by these outstanding performers, and it may be worth seeing on those grounds alone.

We’ll know for sure in a few months from now. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer as well as the above photo gallery.


The Fifth Estate releases in US theaters on October 11, 2013.

Follow Andy Crump on Twitter @agracru
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  1. What a trailer!

    Looking forward to this.

    Though the revelations of Manning/Assange & Snowden are far more significant than the personalities themselves.

    • This is true.

      Also, from the interviews and videos I’ve seen of Assange, he comes across as the most arrogant, smarmy little SOB I’ve ever seen. Almost like the world owes him something and he thinks he’s untouchable.

      • To be fair, the world does owe him and his organisation a huge amount. We now know just how dark the ‘leaders of the free world’ are. This is just a snippet: http://www.salon.com/2010/12/24/wikileaks_23/

        And again, the content of what he’s saying is a lot more important than how he comes across. He could be a complete arse as far as I’m concerned, as long as his organisation keep delivering I don’t really care.

        • But….I followed Wikileaks for a while years ago and other than the leaked Iraq video that Bradley Manning got known for, the site really didn’t reveal anything other than bitchy comments between embassy staff about each other.

          I think that’s the problem with a lot of kids and youngsters these days (saying this as a 29 year old male). They want so badly to be a part of a cause and a rebellion against the governments of the world that they hang on every word and decrypted Wikileaks file as if any of it has any worth to the wider world when actually, it doesn’t.

          Other than that one shocking video of Reuters photographers being shot by sadistic US troops and made fun of as they crawled to safety while dying, Wikileaks hasn’t released anything that’s changed the world or made me think any differently. I could find this stuff myself if I wanted to via other sources.

          The crux of what Assange usually says is vacuous at best and as empty as his website.

  2. Interesting, Assange talks about this film about half way through this video. Worth a watch.

  3. Wow! Cumberbatch does a fantastic impression of Julian Assange! That Australian accent…. that voice and the inflections too.

    • I thought he sounded a bit more South African at times

    • Agree Heustis, Cumberbatch is phenomenal.

  4. Don’t rule out Cumberbatch in August: Osage County!

    • Cumberbatch is one of my favorite actors but I’m wondering how much time he will actually get because the guy doesn’t even get his named mentioned in the trailer. Though I have not read or seen the original material.

  5. Cumberbatch is reaching for that Oscar gold. Hope he gets the nomination at least if he destroys this role…which lets be honest, the guy was blowing me away only with this trailer so far hahaha.

    • As a huge fan I sure hope so. Not many predictors are giving him a chance for this, maybe tide will turn after trailer. Most predictors like Mark mentioned above are giving him a better chance for August: Osage County, but based on trailer it don’t seem like he is given much time. Sooner or later he will at the very least pick up a nomination. Guy’s won a prestigious award or nomination since 2010. 2010 BAFTA nomination, 2011 BAFTA nomination, 2012 Critic’s Choice Win, 2013 Golden Globe nomination and Critic’s nomination.

  6. “The Fifth Estate” is based in part on Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s “Inside WikiLeaks.” It presents Domscheit-Berg as a hero for standing up to Assange.

    Here he is in his own words:

    Along with trying to found a global anticensorship movement, I had assigned myself another job, perhaps the toughest of my life. I had gotten t-shirts printed with the WL logo…because I wanted to save two cents per t-shirt, I’d ordered them in white…Who buys white t-shirts? Especially in a social clique where black t-shirts are something of a dress code. I myself had never worn a white t-shirt in my entire life!

    Now I was sitting on 250 shirts…I literally had to stop people in their tracks as they were passing our stand and beg them to trade €5 from their wallets for a t-shirt.

    Julian preferred to engage potential customers in deep conversations about the state of the world. He stood there talking and talking, occasionally getting into an argument, until no one was thinking about t-shirts anymore.

(I had) the idea to have the WL hourglass tattooed on my back…I needed two Tylenol with water and was constantly asking Fjölnir which country of the logo he was on. ‘Now doing Iceland.’ I sighed. ‘Morocco.’ OMG. By the time we got to Cape Hope, hope was something I no longer had. To this day I run around with half of a WL logo tattooed on my back.

    - Daniel Domscheit-Berg, “Inside WikiLeaks.”

    What do you think?