Benedict Cumberbatch on 'The Grinch' and Socially Anxious Characters

05 Nov 2018

4 mins
The Grinch Star Benedict Cumberbatch and reporter Eve G
The Grinch Star Benedict Cumberbatch and reporter Eve G

Our reporter Eve G sat down with Oscar®-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch to talk about his latest role voicing the title character in The Grinchthe latest adaption of Dr. Seuss' beloved Christmas story.

With the new version of the story looking to explore exactly why The Grinch is such a grumpy Christmas grouch, Eve spoke to Cumberbatch about why he so often finds himself drawn to characters that struggle in social environments, and about his own social anxiety. Cumberbatch explains how he finds his own reserves of personal confidence, and suggests how others can work towards overcoming their anxiety, while also revealing his idea of what makes a good friend.

Watch Eve's fantastic interview below, and if you want to further explore The Grinch this festive period, download our new Grinchmas Spirit resource, which helps to engage students aged 7-14 with English literacy, PSHE, and design & technology learning, all through creative writing and design tasks that explore the holiday spirit, the importance of generosity and why we all can feel particularly Grinchy from time to time…

The Grinch was the opening film of the 2018 Into Film Festival, with 5 simultaneous preview screenings taking place across the UK, and with children encouraged to give 'the gift of kindness' and bring along items to donate to a local food bank. Visit the link below to check out videos and pictures from the events.

Eve G reviews The Grinch

The Grinch, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, is a brand new animated version of the much-loved Dr Seuss classic. The film opens in the colourful, cheerful and rather wacky town of Whoville, where all the local residents are coming together to prepare for the town's annual Christmas celebrations. Whoville during the festive season is like my idea of Christmas on steroids. The town is crammed with excessive amounts of decorations, whilst the town people are so jolly it seems unnatural. Don't I sound a bit of a Grinch?

Whoville's bright atmosphere heavily contrasts with the secluded and lifeless cliff which overlooks Whoville, where the audience first meet our protagonist. Dark, dingy and isolated, it's like a place from childhood nightmares. This is the home of Grinch; a sour and obnoxious, green and potbellied creature. Grinch enjoys nothing more than causing regular mischief in the town, whilst trying to upset anyone who seems happy. The Grinch's ‘grinchiness' is brought to life through the brilliant voice talents of Benedict Cumberbatch. His wonderfully sarcastic tone really enhances the physicality of Grinch on the screen, adding a whole other level of unpleasantness to his character.

Grinch's first trip into Whoville is particularly interesting as it sets up the bad behaviour to come. Similarly, to Gru from Despicable Me, Grinch takes the time to think about how he can exploit an everyday situation, like teasing an innocent woman struggling to reach a jar on the top shelf in the supermarket for example. Grinch then awkwardly lingers over moments like these because he clearly gets satisfaction from closely watching how his cruel actions affect others.

Having never seen a version of the Grinch story, I knew very little about the character of Grinch himself, most importantly, why he hates Christmas so much. I did not realise that his frustration for Christmas comes from such a personal place. He remembers being a child and watching everyone else having a great time celebrating with their friends and families, whilst he was all alone.

The Grinch is actually quite an adult story, about isolation and fear of the unknown, but it's fast paced narrative and lighthearted comedy highlight its core intention, to hold the attention span of younger audiences. To its great shame, I didn't find the film particularly funny. I think this is down to the fact that I am not its target audience, and therefore the humour, basically lots of falling over, does not really appeal to my tastes.

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