Benedict Cumberbatch to play 'Beatles' manager Brian Epstein in biopic
The Tom Hanks-produced flick becomes the first of two competing biopics of the late musical figure
By Corwin Neuse Oct 31, 2012 9:33PM
Benedict Cumberbatch—the British thespian perhaps best known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on the eponymous BBC series, if not his prominent supporting role in last fall's dreadfully boring "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"—has reportedly agreed to star in a biopic of Brian Epstein, the man who discovered The Beatles and managed them from 1961 until his untimely, premature death, from an accidental drug overdose, in 1967.
Epstein was sometimes referred to as "the fifth Beatle," although that distinction has also been bestowed upon many other figures, including producer George Martin and session piano player Billy Preston. Epstein's death has often been cited as a turning point for the band, as the working relationship between founders John Lennon and Paul McCartney noticeably soured in his absence. That said, this new project—to be overseen by one of Cumberbatch's "Sherlock" directors, Paul McGuigan, and producer Tom Hanks (yes, that one)—will reportedly focus on Epstein's early years, with or without the band, and will not feature any of their iconic music. Because securing the rights to use Beatles songs is very expensive.
Of course, this wouldn't be Hollywood without a competing project about the very same subject. According to The Hollywood Reporter, author Vivek J. Tiwary is also preparing another biopic of Epstein, creatively titled "The Fifth Beatle," to be based upon his own graphic novel of the same name. Which of these projects will reach the silver screen first? We have no idea. Although Cumberbatch's villainous role in the upcoming "Star Trek Into Darkness" can only help his film's chances, as it will no doubt raise his public profile. Maybe. Just a bit.