Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl in 'The Fifth Estate' (Photo: DreamWorks)
Well, you didn't expect the WikiLeaks founder to like anything about the WikiLeaks movie, did you?
The only thing surprising about Australian activist Julian Assange expressing outrage against "The Fifth Estate," the upcoming biography film about the rise and fall of the WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief, is that he's doing so this early ... the film, after all, just started shooting this week and won't be released to theaters until much later this year.
Assange apparently got a hold of a copy of the screenplay by Josh Singer, which is based on "Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website" by Assange's former right-hand man Daniel Domscheit-Berg and "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's Waron Secrecy" by The Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding. And he's not happy with what he's (allegedly) read.
"The Fifth Estate" is "a massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff," said Assange in a video addressing an Oxford Union debate on Wednesday night. He told students the film was "fanning the flames" of war since, he claims, it starts inside a military complex in Iran with the suggestion a nuclear bomb is being built.
"How does this have anything to do with us?" he asks. "It is a lie upon lie."
WikiLeaks, which was initiated in 2006, is an online non-profit organization that publishes secret information and classified media from anonymous sources. In September 2011, it became public that an encrypted version of the site's expansive archive of unredacted U.S. State Department cables had been available via BitTorrent for months, with the decryption key easily accessible if one knew where to look. Assange, who's been living in London's Ecuadorian embassy since it offered him asylum last August, blamed the breach on WikiLeaks' former publication partner, The Guardian, and Guardian journalist David Leigh, who revealed the decryption key in a book published in February 2011.
Whether or not Assange has actually read the screenplay for "The Fifth Estate" (he never showed it to the camera during his video address), it's probably inevitable that the film isn't going to paint him or his associates in the most flattering light. The film is currently in production under the direction of Bill Condon (looking to go back to "Gods and Monsters" kind of territory after surviving his "Twilight" two-parter), with Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as Domscheit-Berg. It will hit U.S. theaters on November 15.