Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has revealed some supernatural happenings that occurred filming for his current BBC drama Parade’s End.
The actor had to visit the battlefields of the First World War as part of his role of Christopher Tietjens in Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of the Ford Madox Ford novels, and reported that he was convinced he was visited by an other-worldly spectre when he was later asleep in a hotel.
Benedict Cumberbatch relates some inexplicable events during the filming of Parade's End
"I was asleep and my then girlfriend woke up," remembers Cumberbatch. "I woke up to her saying ‘Are you all right’ and she screamed. She told me, ‘You were sitting on the end of the bed, and then I turned to where your voice was and you were lying down. You turned round where you were sitting and half your face was missing, you seemed to be in some sort of uniform, and just sort of vanished… and I looked back to you, and it looked like the image had vanished into you.'
"At the time I said, 'you need to sleep.'"
"The next day, we were filming a battle scene and this German with half a face missing was catapulted on top of me, half-alive. This becomes an obsession for one of the officers near me, the idea of losing one’s beauty, will one’s love be able to live with that?"
Cumberbatch plays Christopher Tietjens, a man determined to serve his country
It gets weirder.
"The next day I was doing a dream sequence where I'm turning in slow motion to (Tietjen's lover) Valentine, she’s having this dream that turns to a nightmare. I turn to her, this explosion goes off and I’m flung back with smoke and fire, with half my face missing, spooled out on the barbed wire," Cumberbatch continues.
"The first two explosions weren’t that great, but the third one went off in my face. I was engulfed in flame, my tin helmet was blown off twenty feet behind me, the main unit were terrified, thinking I was a goner. I was extremely lucky, I just got singed eyebrows and hair.
"That all happened post this moment she’d had in the night, seeing this person at the end of the bed but somehow weirdly attached to me, so it really got under my skin. It was a profound experience."
Benedict Cumberbatch admits the experience of filming historical battle scenes was extremely disturbing
Cumberbatch has had his share of filming these tragic, historical scenes with his work in War Horse preceding his lead role in Parade's End. Although he had done what research he could, nothing had prepared him for the stark reality of the battle field...
"You’re standing up in somewhere that feels like a grave. When I first went to Belgium I was shocked at the expanse of sky, so flat, and you think that it must have been a torture to have that much freedom, and then you actually get into a trench, and you have the tin hat, and your horizon shrinks to a letterbox.
"Even when you go over the top, there's this cumbersome tin hat… it’s absurd.
Actually being there was really moving, seeing craters created by mines, mock ups of trenches and then our own set, it was very disturbing."