Benedict Cumberbatch addresses backlash over his Zoolander 2 character: It backfired a little bit

Benedict Cumberbatch addresses backlash over his Zoolander 2 character: It backfired a little bit


Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted that his contentious Zoolander 2 role was a mistake. Aside from his breakthrough role as the titular detective on the BBC series Sherlock, the English actor is best known for his portrayal of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s neurosurgeon-turned-sorcerer, Doctor Strange.

Soon before his debut as the Marvel superhero Doctor Strange in 2016’s Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch sparked controversy with his role in Zoolander 2 as All, a non-binary fashion model. The 2016 film was a delayed sequel to the 2001 smash comedy written and directed by Ben Stiller, who again played the eponymous dimwitted ex-supermodel. The sequel reintroduced several of the original cast members, including Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell, as well as Penélope Cruz and Kristen Wiig. Though Cumberbatch did not address the topic publicly at the time, he is now speaking out years later.

Benedict Cumberbatch stated that his role in Zoolander 2 was a mistake during an interview with his co-star Penélope Cruz for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. He said as per Screenrant, “There was a lot of contention around the role, understandably now. And I think in this era, my role would never be performed by anybody other than a trans actor. But I remember at the time not thinking of it necessarily in that regard, and it being more about two dinosaurs, two heteronormative clichés not understanding this new diverse world. But it backfired a little bit.”

Cumberbatch’s appearance in Zoolander 2 was initially disclosed during the film’s teaser, which contained an insensitive joke that created controversy before the film’s release. At the time, multiple petitions were circulated asking for a boycott of the film, stating that Cumberbatch’s portrayal was a parody of androgynous, trans, and non-binary people.

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