Is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a traitor or a visionary? That’s the question posed by the new film The Fifth Estate, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, with Daniel Bruhl as Assange’s former partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg… [W]e also rang up Fifth Estate director Bill Condon to explain why he cast Cumberbatch, what he makes of the Edward Snowden case, and how he feels about Assange’s claim that the film is a “propaganda attack.”
Let’s talk about that title and tagline first. How did you arrive at The Fifth Estate? And what are we to make of a tagline that implicates the audience, saying, “You are the fifth estate”?
We’re trying very hard to make a movie that raises all the questions without providing all the answers. Even recently, when you saw what happened with the Snowden case, I think it’s hard to come down cleanly on one side because this is all just unbelievably complicated; only by getting involved and understanding the issues can people come to an informed decision of their own. I don’t want to make it sound like a history lesson, but I think the movie does show, in an exciting way, just how complicated these issues are. And the tagline, it has to do with the idea of citizen journalism, the great wild west of the internet. It’s a true revolution that we’re just coming to terms with…