You love him in TV’s Sherlock. You thought he was one of the best things in Star Trek Into Darkness even though he straight-up lied to the press about his character. You were annoyed by his ten-minute role in War Horse despite having no idea who he was at the time. You’re looking forward to his dual roles in Peter Jackson’s overextended Hobbit trilogy. You’re undecided about watching him play Alexander Godunov in The Fifth Estate. You noticed his name in the fine print for August: Osage County and are weighing your options.
Today is now the best day of your week because the internet has collectively decided to buy into the sketchy rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch, England’s second-biggest export of the decade after One Direction, has allegedly been cast to play an unnamed role in JJ Abrams’ still-untitled Trek sequel, Star Wars Episode VII. On a normal news day, your competent aggregator sites and discerning bloggers prefer to wait for official word from the likes of Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline Hollywood Daily, or from TV news a full two months later. Sometimes, though, some headlines are just too awesome for professional composure or baseline fact-checking. Thus, this gossip is popping up everywhere today.
Along those same lines, I’ve decided to announce the nonexistent, completely unfounded, nonetheless tantalizing rumor than Cumberbatch has also signed on to give life to the role of brave Sir Johan in Smurfs 3. Just because I can, and clearly because we geeks now demand that he star in everything ever hereafter.
Children raised by 1980s Saturday morning cartoons will recall tuning in to NBC for The Smurfs when nothing better was on the other two networks, and may have caught several episodes that costarred their friends Johan and Peewit. With his good looks, sharp sword, and advantageous height, Johan embodied the common archetype of the powerful white man who rescues non-white natives from evil. American kids wished weekly for an episode in which Johan would corner the nefarious Gargamel and hack him to pieces, but the show’s animators selfishly kept any such delightful footage to themselves.
Although American moviegoers did their best to avoid the thoroughly unrequested Smurfs 2, overseas audiences have been much more easily impressed, resulting in worldwide box office returns of a staggering $255 million to date. Combine that with the original’s total Earth haul of $563 million, and it’s not outlandish to expect Sony to prolong the madness into yet another cash-grabbing, soul-leaching run-through. Sooner or later Neil Patrick Harris might opt out for wholly sensible reasons, and the studio will have no choice but to lure another big-name talent onto the set and blackmail them into participating.
Some of the the voices in my head agree it may be too soon to begin brainstorming names to attach to the role of Johan’s dimwitted sidekick Peewit, but other voices assure me that the producers are in talks with Matt Damon, Bryan Cranston, Ryan Gosling, Nicolas Cage, Justin Timberlake, Idris Elba, and the late Marlon Brando. Producers are prepared to reinvent either or both roles as needed to accommodate the intergalactic star power that would be required to con anyone above age four into giving Smurfs 3 the time of day.
Sure, I invented this headline myself and have not a shred of evidence, no corroborating witnesses, no connections to any concerned parties, and no tangible press credentials as far as I’m aware. In my defense, please keep in mind that I typed it on the internet, which for many readers means it’s gospel on principle. Feel free to pass word along to your followers and loved ones, especially to those who are waiting with bated breath to watch Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor in Men of Steel: Bats vs. Supes.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep holding the sites you frequent to zero standards. Accept every headline at face value. Treat “sources” as a four-letter word. Pretend all online typists are above reproach. And if you run across a credible article six months from now that reports Nicolas Cage really is desperate enough to consider Smurfs 3, remind everyone you heard it here first. With your help I’ll become a real live journalist just like everyone else.