Opening in wide release this week, The Imitation Game is set to be one of the big awards contenders of 2014. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the father of computer science who helped the Allies crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma machine during World War II.
Winning a warm critical reception (including our own recommendation) and the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Imitation Game set itself apart with a lively and ensemble take on the biopic genre.
A couple of months back, we caught up with two of the film’s co-stars, Matthew Goode and Allen Leech, during the festival, and had an energetic discussion about the film, their secret to surviving press tours, Matthew’s least favorite nickname, and how to maintain composure when working opposite Keira Knightley.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
So how’s the festival been for you guys?
Allen Leech: It’s been great, yeah, it’s been lovely. I haven’t actually had the opportunity to see the movie yet.
Matthew Goode: You’ve been quite busy.
AL: But it’s lovely to see the amount of people coming in saying how wonderful it is. It’s very nice.
MG: Basically what he likes is a huge amount of people walking in going, “you’re great.”
AL: No, “it’s” great. You like people saying, “you’re great!”
MG: He’ll turn around, cause he’s churlish like this, and he’ll say, “it’s the people’s festival, Toronto.” Which it is.
AL: It’s been lovely. People have been very nice, very positive about the movie, so it’s great.
MG: It’s very nice not to be flogging a donkey.
Tell us a little bit about the characters you play.
MG: Allen Leech!
AL: I play John Cairncross, who was a cryptographer, and a linguist, and came from a working class background.
MG: You’ve been doing this for two days and that’s the first time you mentioned that.
AL: I’m giving you a new piece of information.
It’s an exclusive! That’ll be the headline.
MG: “Working Class Man.”
AL: And he worked in Bletchley Park, attempting to solve the unsolvable.
MG: By which he means Enigma. I play Hugh Alexander, who, I suppose if we go through his curriculum vitae, there would definitely be two British chess championships up there. And like a lot of people from Bletchley, he was not in the military. He came in, he had a mind, he was put in charge, along with Turing and a few other people, to try and solve Enigma. And he was replaced by Alan writing to Winston Churchill and saying, “I think I should be in charge instead of Hugh Alexander.” So he was a bit upset about that. And generally, I think most of the men were quite frustrated about being around Alan. They knew he had this incredible mind, and way of thinking about things in a completely different way, which was like, “we’re going to defeat a machine with a more intelligent machine.”
AL: Essentially building the first digital computer.
MG: Essentially building a very, very, very expensive box. So, the military thought, “what the hell is this thing?” And it took years.