Benedict Cumberbatch on Madonna
Unedited: GQ Issue Jan 2014
On auditioning for Madonna’s movie W.E.
“It was extraordinary. I was literally in the middle of previewing After the Dance, I think we’d done our second preview, so half of my mind was on that, and in the process of it went on a bit, and James [D’Arcy] was already there, as was the lovely Natalie Dormer, and when I went through into the room [at Madonna’s London house], there were cameras, and this is not a story to tell at her expense, because she is extraordinary, but it was such an odd situation.
My usual experience of auditions is that you do things in front of a camera and you send off a tape, or you get the opportunity to speak to someone in a room, to talk though, the process, it’s collaborative, and that’s always the preference. And that’s what this was, but she wanted to operate the camera too!
She was really stressed out because she was trying to figure out people’s availability at the same time, she brought her producers’ hat on. And brought all of that in a really guileless lovely way, but it was kind of extraordinary and a bit discombobulating to the usual Brit actor dong an audition, because she was learning her craft, she’s not a seasoned director.
She walked in and went, ‘Ahh, you actors are such a f***ng nightmare, the scheduling is just impossible!’Then she said, ‘Ooh, yeah, you’re the one with the strange name!’ And I think I said something along the lines of, ‘Yes, I am, Madonna.’ And she then smiled wryly. Which was quite amusing.
We did the audition, it was in a beautifully floored gym area in her house, and she was setting the cameras and lighting up, really setting it up into a proper scenario, quite full-on for an audition, and part of me was saying this is not good, and she was setting up this shot, and it involved moving a mirror. And she went, ‘F***, my floor! Uhm, you need to meet in the middle… and …’. And so I just said, “Look, you’re going to tell is where our frame is, we’re going to cross over – it was about him and the brother meeting in the hall way and having an argument – and so we did it, and she said, ‘You’ve done this before’, and I said, ‘Huh, yeah, maybe I have!”