After Star Trek 2 is finally released on May 17, 2013, I have a feeling that Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be happy if he never hears the name “Khan” ever again. The rumors that Khan is the villain in Abrams’ second Trek outing have been floating around since before Cumberbatch landed the role, and despite repeated denials from people involved with the production, they just won’t die. Granted, if it is Khan, they probably wouldn’t tell us, so who knows. Either way, new Cumberbatch comments seem to add more fuel to the “It’s not Khan” argument, but they definitely raise some questions as well.
In an interview with Shortlist, Cumberbatch admits to being weary of fielding Khan questions, but naturally is keeping mum about who he’s actually playing. Well, mostly mum, anyway. Cumberbatch says, “I’ll tell you this, it’s iconic and it’s exciting. I’m bored of denying that it’s Khan now, because people keep saying it.”
So, he seems to yet again dismiss the undying Khan rumors, but his statement that the character he’s playing is “iconic” also raises some eyebrows. When you’re talking about the Original Series Trek characters, you can’t get any more iconic than Khan. But if it’s not Khan, who else would qualify as “iconic?” The nigh-omnipotent Gary Mitchell from “Where No Man Has Gone Before” seems the most likely candidate. His name was dropped by Trek actor Karl Urban last month, although the production quickly denied it. Still, given that he’s probably the second most iconic TOS Trek villain, and that Cumberbatch’s character seems to be wearing a variant of the Starfleet uniforms in some of the set photos, Mitchell still seems like a possible candidate.
If not Mitchell, then who? Somebody from the Mirror Universe? A more lethal Harry Mudd? A horta wearing a really convincing human costume? Cumberbatch isn’t talking, but he does have a few more general comments about playing the villainous role.
It’s a great part and it’s really well written. I enjoyed the fights and the stunts, there’s lots of that and it really is proper action movie territory. I went off and did The Hobbit [doing motion-capture and voice work as dragon Smaug and the Necromancer] at the beginning of the job, so I literally came on set, established the look, did a day of filming and then f*cked off to New Zealand for two weeks before coming back. But it’s the stuff of dreams. I know it’s such a well-trodden, clichéd path, ‘Brit actor plays baddie in Hollywood’, but I channeled all of that and just really enjoyed it.
Maybe he’s playing a less flamboyant Trelane?