Entertainment & Arts

Benedict Cumberbatch hits back over refugee row

Benedict Cumberbatch Image copyright PA
Image caption Cumberbatch said he has been portrayed as a hypocrite because he is 'paid tonnes of money'

Benedict Cumberbatch has hit back after being criticised for making speeches on stage attacking the UK government over the refugee crisis.

The Sherlock star condemned the "slow response" to the Syrian crisis during the curtain calls of Hamlet last year.

In a GQ interview, Cumberbatch said he has "very strong opinions" about "things that matter".

But he said he normally has to "wrench myself back" because, as a well-paid actor, he is portrayed as a hypocrite.

He told the magazine: "One of the arguments was, when are you going to put a refugee in your house or your flat?

"And, you know, I do have a house, but it's empty, it's gutted, there's no electricity or water, so that wouldn't work, and I have a baby in my flat, there are no spare rooms...

"I wasn't saying, 'Yes, open the doors to everyone, yes, give them our jobs and our wives', and that whole kind of stereotype fear that nationalism has leapt on."

Cumberbatch, who has a one-year-old son with his theatre director wife Sophie Hunter, is believed to have bought a Victorian house in north London.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Alan Kurdi was found drowned after the boat he was in capsized during a voyage from Turkey to Greece

'Not about privilege'

He said he was prompted to make his speeches after seeing the photograph of dead toddler Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach that drew attention to the refugee crisis earlier this year.

Cumberbatch added: "It's not about privilege, it's about a child dead on a beach because he's tried to escape a war."

He continued: "I find it frustrating because I do have very strong opinions about things, and I do want to say things that matter, and that are important, and I have to wrench myself back.

"Because it's so easily framed by the right as 'Booo, who's he? He's a hypocrite, he's an actor, he's paid tonnes of money, who is he to tell us how to live our lives?'" he said.

Cumberbatch also hinted that we might have seen the last of hit BBC TV series Sherlock.

"It might be the end of an era. It feels like the end of an era, to be honest. It goes to a place where it will be pretty hard to follow on immediately.

"We never say never on the show. I'd love to revisit it, I'd love to keep revisiting it, I stand by that, but in the immediate future we all have things that we want to crack on with and we've made something very complete as it is, so I think we'll just wait and see. The idea of never playing him again is really galling."

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