Benedict Cumberbatch of 'Sherlock' marches into 'Parades End' on HBO

Monday, 25 February 2013 10:48 AM Written by 

paradesend04PASADENA, Calif. -- Fans of PBS's "Sherlock" who are in need of seeing star Benedict Cumberbatch (at right) prior to his starring role as the bad guy in this summer's "Star Trek" movie can tune in to see him in HBO's period miniseries "Parade's End" (9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), based on the novels by Ford Madox Ford and adapted for TV by Tom Stoppard ("Shakespeare in Love").

This five-hour miniseries is set on the cusp of World War One as aristocrat Christopher Tietjens is trapped in a marriage to an unfaithful wife (Rebecca Hall, "Iron Man 3," pictured at right) and drawn toward a young suffragette despite his own commitment to Toryism.

Viewers tuning in hoping for a genteel period piece like "Downton Abbey" may be surprised by the darker nature of "Parade's End."

Read more after the jump. ...

Stoppard is quick to point out that "Parade's End" is not a World War I drama.

"The war is certainly an important part of the latter part of it," he said. "'Parade's End' is actually about a society. It kicks off in 1912, prologue in 1908, and it goes prewar and through the war. Now, in the war, Christopher Tietjens ends up as a British army officer."

"Parade's End" is based on four Ford novels.

"And it's not a straightforward, linear novel," Stoppard said during an HBO press conference last month. "It's actually quite tricky to work out the structure of it. It's not a book which falls into five parts of equal length, by any means, so I could detain you well into the night to tell you what the problems and possible solutions were, but all I want to say about that was it was, indeed, quite difficult, but it was just the happiest job I've had for years. I just loved, just loved the job. I loved the book. I loved working on it."

Cumberbatch compared Tietjens to Sherlock.

"As you will see, Christopher is a man with a huge heart and empathy for those near to him, and of all position and status and importance in his life, whether it be a wet nurse's, his son who may or may not be his son, his wife, his love of this new woman and his men in war, he's a very generous, big‑hearted sentimental man who Ford describes in the books as being one to cry to a piece of music or art," Cumberbatch said. "He's very sensitive in comparison to the Sherlock, so there's an emotional depth or resonance that's very different in that regard. Far more sociopathic. He, like Sherlock, doesn't suffer fools gladly. He carves his way through mediocrity.  He's witty and acerbic, and it may not always be an angel, but he's definitely on the side of angels. He fights a very good fight, in my opinion. He's a heroic character." 

As for the impact of "Sherlock," "Star Trek" and now "Parade's End" on his career, Cumberbatch just smiles and laughs.

"It's been an amazing year, and it's been fantastic because of what I've been asked to do at the same time, that's work that's come out at the same time. It's a hard one to draw into sort of ‑‑ I don't know. It's a tricky thing to comment on," he said. "It's been a wonderful year, a wonderful couple of years.  It's been extraordinary.  Yeah.  Embarrassment of riches is the headline, I think, answer on that. A real embarrassment of riches."

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