“I’m getting my hair dyed at the moment, at work,” British actor Benedict Cumberbatch tells Zap2it, calling in from the set of “Star Trek 2,” the second installment in director J.J. Abrams‘ big-screen reboot of the science-fiction franchise.
Cumberbatch, who returns to PBS’ “Masterpiece Mystery!” on Sunday, May 6, in the second season of “Sherlock,” playing the title role in the BBC’s 21st century reboot of that venerable franchise, plays the mysterious villain in “Trek,” the plot of which has been shrouded in secrecy.
“The movie goes very well,” Cumberbatch says. “It’s very, very long hours, but it’s an incredible job. It’s phenomenal. J.J. brings it. It’s a very exciting set to be on. He’s very imaginative. He’s involved in the details, the acting and all the wonderful ideas he has for capturing stories in a fresh and imaginative way.
“Just the range of stuff I get to do in one day, it’s great. Also, what he’s asking me, it’s just wonderful. I can’t say much nicer than that. I’m basically raving about it, and I don’t have a gun pointed to my head.
“He’s a genuinely good human being, as well as being absurdly talented and popular. He’s just fantastically talented, just in payoffs and thrills and chills along the way.”
Cumberbatch shot “Sherlock” in Wales, but for “Star Trek,” he’s in Los Angeles, sometimes on a proper movie lot, with all the amenities that go with it — such as catered lunches.
Asked if he’s enjoying it all, Cumberbatch says, “Yeah, you betcha. It’s great. I’ve gone up two suit sizes. The character I’m playing, he’s strong, I can say that much. I’ve changed my physique a bit, so that requires eating like a foie gras goose, well beyond your appetite, And, providing I don’t feel too ill, I then work out two hours a day with a phenomenal trainer. It’s the L.A. way.”
Cumberbatch has also gotten a chance to film in the Budweiser Brewery in the San Fernando Valley, which was used in Abrams’ first “Star Trek” movie as the engine room of the Starship Enterprise.
“It’s noisy,” he says. “it’s very, very, very mind-numbingly noisy. It’s slightly like what you’d imagine they’d be playing in your earphones if you were being tortured by some foreign operative. It’s not particularly pleasant.
“And yet, it’s stunning, and it films beautifully. It’s incredible. It’s a working, functioning factory, and production doesn’t shut down for us being there. It’s fantastic, really beautiful.”
But, he didn’t get to bring home a case of cold Bud.
“No, I didn’t,” says Cumberbatch. “I’d like to. No, I didn’t. There was a nice little tap on one of the big, old vats, and I thought, ‘I wonder if I should take a taste.'”