We like to think of the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy premiere at the 2011 Venice Film Festival as the event where Benedict made the transition from in-demand actor to international film star. The enormous attention focused on that illustrious cast, and on him in particular, was gratifying on so many levels — and to us, a tacit recognition that he had indeed arrived at the industry’s “big table” of talent.
Here’s one of our favourite moments from that exciting time — the group news conference before the premiere itself. From 2:38, he delves eloquently into the work he did to understand the underlying psychology of the world of the Circus, and the often all-too-high price that people — most especially his own character, the luckless Peter Guillam — pay to live and work in it:
“It’s quite loveless; the sacrifice means you’re on your own, you’re alienated — and all you’re left with is the trust of your colleagues and whatever morality is driving your work as a character, in that landscape. I think … uhm … there are parallels in life but I think specifically for this film, it’s beautifully drawn out by Peter’s script, an adaptation of a masterpiece of back story for an actor in the form of the novel. So I really draw on that, and obviously conversations with Tomas (Alfredson, the director) and try to carve out some kind of a back history as well from the book and beyond for my character as well — to try and understand why there was that loyalty in place to Smiley for my character Peter Guillam to make those sacrifices.
And I think what’s brought out beautifully in the film throughout, in every quarter, in every character’s arc in general through the story is that, is the sacrifice — the level of personal sacrifice. And I have it on very good authority that we touched nerves that are quite true to the lives of those involved in that world.”