HBO Faces Backlash for Upcoming 'Brexit' Movie Starring Benedict Cumberbatch

HBO is putting out a movie about the 2016 "Brexit" referendum starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and many politically-minded people are not pleased by the portrayal.

Cumberbatch plays Dominic Cummings in the movie, titled simply Brexit. Cummings was the strategist that led the Vote Leave campaign. The Electoral Commission is still investigating Vote Leave for its use of money and data, however, and some feel that it is too soon for HBO to turn the historic referendum into a film.

Carole Cadwalladr, a reporter for The Guardian, wrote a few tweets about the show that took off. She compared the investigations into Vote Leave to the investigations into President Donald Trump, asserting that HBO is "literally interfering in our criminal justice system."

"You're heroicising a man in contempt of Parliament," she went on. "We don't know the facts still. Because he refuses to tell Parliament. But this character with the 'software' is bulls—). The 'physicists' are still unknown. The work was not declared. Electoral commission refused to investigate."

The trailer seems to focus mostly on how Cummings used social media to "hack" the electoral system. It shows him embracing ugly ideologies such as racism and anti-immigration sentiments, but it makes no mention of the criminal allegations against him or Vote Leave. It is still unclear whether the film itself will portray Cummings' alleged crimes.

Even if it did, this would still be "grossly irresponsible," as Cadwalladr put it. The investigation into the Brexit referendum is ongoing as we speak, and therefore there is no reliable consensus on what happened behind closed doors.

In addition to comparing the movie to a film about President Trump while he is still in office, many also thought that it was a parody. More than one person tweeted their surprise when they realized that Brexit is a real trailer and not just a skit from Saturday Night Live.

Of course, more people pointed out that this is not the first time Cumberbatch has played a controversial and potentially criminal character. Back in 2013, he played WikiLeaks edior Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. At the time, Assange was billed as a hero, though his actions since then have been called into question many times.


"If Cumberbatch keeps this up, we might be able to make a Brexit/Russia supercut with him playing everyone," one Twitter user joked.

Brexit premieres on HBO on Jan 19 at 9 p.m. ET.