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My Life in Movies: Benedict Cumberbatch

Famous Londoners share their favourite hometown film spots

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

What was the first film you saw in London?
‘It was “Octopussy” at the [now closed] Kensington Odeon. It’s quite a sophisticated first memory! I remember the fold-up plane coming out of the horse truck and thinking Roger Moore was the coolest thing in the world. The tuk-tuk car chase was brilliant. Talking about it now makes me want to see it again.’

What’s your favourite London cinema?
‘Our local is the Everyman [in Belsize Park]. I love the Ritzy too.’

What was the last film you saw?
‘“Captain Marvel” in Swiss Cottage. It’s a wonderful guilty pleasure watching a film in the middle of the day. I used to do that a lot as a student with my Cineworld card. That was a favourite cheap ploy of mine. I only recently gave it up. ’

What was your most memorable place to film at?
‘Freemasons’ Hall [in Covent Garden] is stunning. I’ve filmed there on “The Current War”, “Patrick Melrose” and “Parade’s End”. I jumped into the Men’s Pond on Hampstead Heath before Gary Oldman during the shoot for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. It was October and he turned to me and said, “Fucking hell, that water’s going to be cold, isn’t it?” I said, “Look, I’ll test it for you.” It was the coldest I’ve ever been. Gary turned white.’


What are Londoners like when you’re filming?
‘When we did “Sherlock”, Martin Freeman described it as like doing street theatre. We’d get crowds of about 500 people. Of course, there are people who think it’s original to hoot their horn when they see a camera, but Londoners are fantastic. It’s a fun city to film in.’

Which films capture London best for you?
‘“Withnail and I” is right up there. I probably know the dialogue better than any single part I’ve played. And Bond does London proud, too. We completely ripped off that shot from “Skyfall” of him standing on the [Ministry of Defence’s] Whitehall roof in “Sherlock”.’

‘The Current War’ is out Fri Jul 26.

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