Benedict Cumberbatch considered housing Syrian refugees

Naomi Gordon
Photo credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Rex Shutterstock

From Digital Spy

Benedict Cumberbatch was very vocal with his impassioned criticism of the government over its handling of the migrant crisis in 2015.

The 41-year-old actor used his Hamlet curtain calls at London's Barbican to denounce the British government's decision to accept only 20,000 refugees over five years, while imploring theatre-goers to donate money to help Syrians fleeing war.

But the Sherlock star doesn't regret using his high-profile status to draw attention to the refugee crisis, and admitted that he and his playwright wife Sophie Hunter even considered housing asylum seekers.

"I got very heated about [the refugee crisis] on occasions, and I do regret that," Cumberbatch told The Big Issue.

It was reported that during one anti-government speech, he told the London audience to "f**k the politicians".

He explained of the moment: "It was a knee-jerk reaction in terms of the refugee crisis – being a new father and seeing a 2-year-old child wash up on the beach not dissimilar to the ones I spent my childhood on, and will hopefully take my children to.

"I don't know if it is worth bringing this up, but being conscious of the magazine I'm talking to – people were saying, 'You've got a home, why don't you house refugees?' And we did look into it. But we had, then, a very new baby – maybe 4 or 5 months old."

Photo credit: Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

Cumberbatch added that while he understood critics suggesting he take action and house people instead of complaining about the government not doing enough, he also felt a responsibility to raise awareness for a "human crisis".

And he helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Save the Children's fund to help in Syria.

"Maybe people had a point," he continued. "I understand why some might think I should be housing people instead of complaining about a government not doing it.

"But I was trying to raise awareness that we can do more as a society. Because I do feel we are able to do more than just recovering bodies.

"I'm a human being and it was a human crisis and I got over-excited and said things in a rather grand manner some nights.

"You stick your head above the parapet and that happens. But we raised money for children in need. So I don't regret doing it for a second, and I will do it again, even if it does put me in the firing line."

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