Benedict Cumberbatch wants Guantanamo Bay shut down after working on The Mauritanian
"Hoping? I'm going to plead with the guy," the Academy Award-nominated actor said in an interview with The Independent about his intention to speak to Biden.
Guantanamo Bay is a U.S. military prison off the coast of Cuba established nearly two decades ago after the 9/11 attacks to detain and torture terrorist suspects without trial. A report from the N.Y. Times released in 2019 estimates running the controversial facility costs $13 million per prisoner which currently stands at 40.
"It is a huge spend. It's the most expensive prison on earth. And what are the results? Where are the prosecutions? That's just being really brutally economic about it, it just doesn't work," he continued. "And then you have the human rights issue. It's an atrocious own goal, I think for the free world to be incarcerating people through extraordinary rendition, torturing them, and extracting confessions they think are then usable in prosecution… it is a really dangerous, unnecessary, and ineffectual place, I think, and enough people have suffered there."
Biden announced in February his plans to close down Guantanamo Bay.
The Mauritanian tells the real-life story of former detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi (portrayed by Tahar Rahim), whose memoir Guantanamo Diary caught Cumberbatch's attention. Slahi, who was suspected of organizing the 9/11 attacks, spent 14 years at the detention center without charge before his 2016 release.
Cumberbatch produced the drama and portrayed Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, an attorney on Slahi's prosecution team, who later refused to prosecute the Mauritanian man after witnessing the inhumane conditions under which detainees were kept and questioned.
While shooting the film in the South African capital of Cape Town (a stand-in for Cuba) in late 2019, Cumberbatch fell terribly ill with what he believes now was COVID-19. He trudged ahead with his acting duties while "throwing up between takes."
"I was incredibly ill, to the point that when all this COVID stuff suddenly broke in the new year, I was thinking, 'Oh my god, was I actually patient zero?' I was so ill — it was borderline pneumonia."
The Mauritanian is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.