Photo: ? Hubert Boesl/dpa/Corbis
The cast of The Imitation Game likely wasn’t expecting anything too out of the ordinary in the Q&A following the rapturous standing ovation at their Toronto Film Festival premiere tonight. But then again, it’s not ordinary to put Benedict Cumberbatch in a room with an open microphone and a lot of women. (Though given what happened at Comic-Con, they might have expected some trouble.)
The question that would soon have everyone in the room cringing came near the end of the quite lengthy talk, in which every questioner seemed to be female and every question directed to Cumberbatch. He made a valiant effort to wade through the fawning, giving long, thoughtful answers every time. Then a woman got up to the mic and declared, “Benedict, I actually think you’re quite yummy.” Everyone laughed. So she repeated herself. “You really are quite yummy.”
“When is the question coming?” Toronto Film Festival director Cameron Bailey interjected. The woman said she had two really important questions, both for Cumberbatch, of course. One was what part of the role of WWII hero codebreaker Alan Turing did he identify with most. And the second very important question, keeping with the theme of the film, which “is that it’s okay to be a little bit different… Would I be able to feast on your yumminess?”
Keira Knightley slapped Cumberbatch’s leg she was laughing so hard, then turned toward him, exaggeratedly anticipating his answer.
Cumberbatch, beet red, composed himself. “I’ll answer the first part of your question, which is… Christ. Sorry, I’m taken. I did not go into this Q&A about a gay icon who killed himself at 41 thinking I’d have to answer questions from someone who wants to taste my deliciousness.”
To Cumberbatch’s credit, he managed to bring the discussion straight back to Turing, and the movie’s true story of how the math genius led a team of cryptographers and linguists who cracked Enigma, the machine the Nazis used to send encrypted messages. It was an achievement that may have shortened the war by two years and saved countless lives, and the machine Turing invented to combat Enigma was essentially the first computer. Cumberbatch explained that “not being a math genius, or a hero, or a gay icon,” he found his way into the character because Turing was an incredibly sensitive human being.
The “yummy” woman finally sat down and another female fan stood up to ask Cumberbatch how this role was going to affect his future choices. He hung his head and tried to pass the mic to any and all of his castmates. “No, I really really want to hear you first,” he told them. They all waved him off laughing. He sighed and looked up at whichever female was now standing at the mic, and the long line of other women behind her, and sighed. “What was the question?”
Right after the Q&A, the actor boarded a plane to London to begin filming Richard III for the BBC. Women of Toronto, Benedict Cumberbatch has left the continent.