It’s rough out there for a sex symbol. As much as fame has its advantages, I imagine the process of stripping off your clothes for a streamy scene or photoshoot has got to be awkward as hell even for the most uninhibited stars. How much more frustrating would it be to do a zillion pushups and eat nothing but rice cakes, only to have that big skin debut left on the cutting-room floor? Such was the fate that befell Star Trek Into Darkness’ Benedict Cumberbatch, who shot a brief, broody shower scene for the Trek sequel that didn’t make the final cut. But then, as if to add insult to injury, director J.J. Abrams instead premiered the shower scene on Conan O’Brien’s show this past May. This past week Cumberbatch himself visited Conan, and he took the chance for a bit of good-natured self-mockery and more razzing on J.J.
Of course, the worst part is that Cumberbatch’s shower scene got trotted out to help defuse the controversy the Into Darkness filmmakers got into over the gratuitous “And here’s Alice Eve in her underwear” scene. It’s hardly the first time a film has cashed in on one of its female stars looking good in the all-together, but many Trek fans thought it was a cheap way to treat what had traditionally been a very strong female character, Dr. Carol Marcus, a brilliant scientist and the mother of Kirk’s son. I think part of the problem is that it was so gratuitous — movies are forever finding excuses to get their stars scantily clad, but the scene just stuck out like a sore thumb. Or, well, like a gorgeous blonde in her underwear.
I stand corrected. That was clearly character-related. All that hullabaloo aside, it was pretty funny to see Cumberbatch’s obvious embarrassment at the subject, especially when they get around to mocking the specifics of the scene. Even aside from being a frivolous excuse to get the British actor’s shirt off, his performance during the brief clip is just…odd. I guess he was going for “intense,” what with the whole Khan thing, but Andy Richter nails it when he says, “Out of context, it looks like you’re confused by water.” Then again, maybe he’s just suffering from a totally understandable case of Khan Chest Envy.