The whole story of Morten Tyldum’s “The Imitation Game,” the Oscar buzzed feature about British mathematician Alan Turing, gets the cover of Time magazine this week. This movie also premiered last night to rapturous applause. Benedict Cumberbatch leads a knock out cast into the Oscar race in a film that so far everyone who’s seen it loves. I mean, loves. I will have more in the AM about the film’s premiere Monday night as well as a lunch earlier in the day at the Four Seasons. Suffice to say, Keira Knightley could run for office and win if she wanted to. “The Imitation Game” has the Best Ensemble of any cast this season. At lunch, Walter Isaacson asked her about being the only woman in a big cast of men. Keira replied: “I’m always the only woman, so it was no different than usual.” Lucky guys.
MORE TUESDAY MORNING: Benedict Cumberbatch gets a HUGE Oscar push when he appears later this week on the cover of TIME Magazine with a rare Enigma Machine. The machine had be to be brought down to Los Angeles last week from the Computer History Museum in Mountainview, California. It has has never left the museum, but former TIME editor in chief Walter Isaacson, whose book “The Innovators” includes Turing, made it happen.
The TIME cover was the talk of last night’s star studded premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater and later at Tavern on the Green, where Cumberbatch introduced his fiancee Sophie Hunter. He told me earlier at the Four Seasons lunch: “I’ve found my own Cumber-bitch and I’m going to marry her!” Ben’s legions of female fans are known as Cumber-bitches, or Cumber-babes, as it were. Erudite and soft spoken, Cumberbatch really is the modern Olivier. He’s a perfect pitch man for “The Imitation Game,” too. He can sell the movie and talk about Turing effortlessly. The Academy loves him, too. He’s definitely a front runner for Best Actor.
The lunch also featured Keira, Matthew Goode– who will be joining “Downton Abbey” as Lady Mary’s latest suitor, Charles Dance, Matthew Beard, director Tyldum, Mark Strong, and Allen Leech– the latter of course is Branson on “Downtown Abbey.” Leech has dropped quite a few pounds since I saw him in Toronto in September. He looks about ten years younger. “I had to do it!” he told me. “You should see what they feed us!” We talked about “Downton Abbey” going on to its 6th season. I said it will probably go to a 7th or 8th. “How will we do it?” Leech wondered. “I’d have to age. Maggie Smith keeps joking her character must be 179 years old by now!” He imitated Dame Maggie perfectly.
I ran into another soap opera star at Tavern on the Green– Susan Lucci, with husband Helmut Huber. Susan is a doll, always fun. She climbed out of the Prospect Park debacle of “All My Children” and has two TV shows– “Devious Maids” and her show on the ID channel about criminal re-enactments. She’s a survivor! Also at the party: Bette Midler’s Yale trained actress daughter Sophie von Hasselburg, who’s just finishing a run off Broadway. What a great young lady— really poised, full of personality, very attractive, and head on straight about fame. She’s a star in the making!