Even though he’s the villain of Star Trek into Darkness, fans may at times feel sympathetic towards John Harrison.
There are mild spoilers behind the cut, and speculation on the character that is spoilerish in the original article.
Harrison, according to Benedict Cumberbatch, is a “home-grown terrorist.” “He’s somebody who has the most extraordinary proficient ability as a warrior with close hand combat and weaponry,” said Cumberbatch. “But also with psychological warfare – like a master chessman he can…or I should say chess player, chessman could be a piece I guess! He’s a tactician with the most extraordinary kind of mind and ability to manipulate a situation and get people to trust him and do his bidding almost actually, a Hannibal Lecterish quality I guess.
“There’s no tricks involved, it is purely about knowing the person and the dynamic that they’re part of. And that means that within the range of acting I got to do I had the great boy/man thrill running around and doing a lot of live action stunts, with wire work and carefully choreographed and rehearsed fight scenes and chases. And that’s the great thing about the film – there’s lots of live action and stuff that is not CG. It’s very much real and gravitationally bound in some parts as well, and earthbound. And then on top of that, the icing of the cake and the real treat and meat of it as well was to have really juicy acting scenes as well.”
Harrison could be described as a “sympathetic bad guy.” “I don’t know what character in recent film history hasn’t been,” he said. “The more I say that the more I realize that doesn’t really distinguish him. But there will be a reveal in the…piece – I was about to say play! But it’s interesting that I was going to say play because there is an aspect of it where it is much more of a morality play, the kind of depth of story is much more in tune with the original series I think than had previously been the case in this type of genre film. But anyway that’s detracting from what I was saying which was…what I said about being a terrorist. I think I definitely touched on this in front of you guys this morning [at a press conference].
“Well basically I believe like modern terrorism, and there sadly a lot of parallels that make this very relevant. It’s not that the means may be disgusting, the level of violence and death and destruction and distress caused. But often the intentions are noble – and I mean that in the broadest sense. It’s an underdog fighting a superpower. It’s a minority. And elements of that superpower can get corrupted; in this case it’s Starfleet. And he believes in what he is doing and hopefully at the point where that’s explained it might garner some sympathy.”
But Harrison is “still a bad arse,” said Cumberbatch.