Imitation Game: Director Tydlum Addresses Criticism of Gay Issues

Mortem Tyldum directed “The Imitation Game,” which is nominated for 8 Oscars, for $15 million.

After he read the script, he was taken by how much he didn’t know about World War II code breaker Alan Turing’s life, and he immediately thought of Benedict Cumberbatch for the role.

“The Imitation Game” was criticized for not dealing more deeply with  Turing’s gay character and his gay relationships.

Morning of Oscar nominations?

I was actually on a plane to Heathrow. I was the last one to find out. As soon as we landed, I turned on my cell and the phone exploded.

How did you celebrate?

It was kind of weird. I had a two-hour layover, and the press was calling constantly. This is the first time a Scandinavian was nominated for best picture.

Getting involved with “The Imitation Game”?

I had done “Headhunters,” and because of the movie’s success, everybody said I should come to Hollywood. I had been sent a lot of scripts.  My agent called and said, “You should read this.” I had always been a history lover, and I was shocked there was so much here that I didn’t know.

“The Imitation Game” as box office success?

It’s a movie that’s really relatable, it’s about loneliness, about trying to fit in.

Turing’s Male Lover?

The time period we’re all focusing on, he didn’t have one.  He described it in his own words as a “sexual desert” in a letter. The whole thing is his relationship with Christopher (Turing’s male crush seen in flashbacks in grade school) about unfulfilled love.

Relationships with men.

He had sex with men, especially after the war, when he’s living in Manchester. The break-in that happens in the film is a male lover, which is discussed.  It was actually someone he paid to have sex with–a hustler.

No relationship with adult man?

The whole movie, the way it’s structured, we don’t know anything about this man. The investigation starts because he’s hiding something, but he’s not hiding what we think. It can’t start off with him having sex. It was not because we were afraid it would offend anybody. If I did the structure and had this thing about a straight character, I would never have a sex scene to prove that he’s heterosexual. If I have a gay character in a movie, I need to have a sex scene in it — just to prove that he’s gay? I’m not shying away from it.

His whole relationship, how he falls in love and the importance of him being a gay man, was all about secrecy.

During his time, the relationship that was important was the relationship with Joan Clarke (played by Keira Knightley). They were engaged for six months. It’s all about a lost love. He didn’t have a male companion.  He had random people for sex. He also went to Norway to have sex in a gay sauna, a secret club.  He had some sexual partners, but it was few and far between. The only reason to have a sex scene in the film would be to satisfy critics who feels that every gay character needs to have a gay sex scene.

Cumberbitches?

Benedict has a pretty intense fanbase. I find most of them being really cool. You find some that are a little intense. We had the opening at the Toronto Film Festival, where there was a Q&A, and some of the female fans made it impossible. One asked, “Can I have your yumminess? Do you want to eat my yumminess?” The whole thing became stupid.

Interrupting the shoot?

The biggest problem is the paparazzi. Benedict is really distracted by it. I don’t think hyper-fame comes easy to him. He’s an artist. He doesn’t want to be a star.

Attending the Oscars before?

This is my first time. My wife hasn’t found a dress yet. She’s panicking more.

“Passengers” will star Jennifer Lawrence?

She wants to. We had a long dinner together. Both Chris Pratt and Jen are phenomenal. They really want to do this together. It will be starting in mid-to-late August or early September. The schedule is just Jen’s schedule.  She has some promo commitments for “The Hunger Games.”

What’s the story about?

“Passengers” is about a spaceship on its way to one of the colonies. About 5,000 people are onboard, all asleep — it takes one of the pods 110 years to get there. After only 30 years, one of the pods malfunctions, and Chris’ character wakes up. He’s all alone on a spaceship, 90 years away from arriving. He will die of old age all alone, so he malfunctions another pod, so the second pod opens up. He awakes another passenger without telling her [Lawrence’s character] that he did it. It’s this very unique love story about two people trapped on a spaceship and they will both die there.