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Benedict Cumberbatch hopes to be part of UK effort to house Ukrainian refugees

Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter attending the 75th British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Picture date: Sunday March 13, 2022.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter attending the 75th British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Picture date: Sunday March 13, 2022.

Benedict Cumberbatch says he hopes “to be part” of the UK effort to provide homes for victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Oscar-nominated actor acknowledged that “we have brothers and sisters who are suffering” as a result of the conflict and that people should do what they could to help.

He currently stars in Jane Campion’s dark western The Power Of The Dog, which was awarded best picture at the 2022 Baftas, though Cumberbatch lost out to Will Smith for best actor.

Speaking on the Bafta red carpet, he told Sky News: “We need to donate, we need to pressure our politicians to create some kind of refugee safety and a haven here for people who are suffering.

“Everyone needs to do as much as they can, and I think already today the news has broken that there’s been a record number of people volunteering to take people into their homes.

“I hope to be part of that myself.

“And also obviously donating to charities who can help people in a very real way on the ground in Poland or just over the border if it’s safe to do so.”

Andy Serkis attending the special screening of The Batman at BFI IMAX
The Batman star Andy Serkis said the arts ‘hold humanity together’ (Ian West/PA)

Andy Serkis used his presentation of the best director award to criticise Home Secretary Priti Patel over the Government’s “hostile” treatment of Ukrainian refugees.

The English actor said world-class directors were charged with “bringing together and leading a huge family of supremely talented strangers on a difficult and chaotic journey whilst hopefully creating an atmosphere that inspires inclusivity and values every single member of that family equally”.

“So it is no surprise that Priti Patel on her debut feature Hostile Environment found enormous problems.

“And that her follow up movie All Refugees are Welcome, Some Are More Welcome Than Others is a complete nightmare,” Serkis, who starred alongside Cumberbatch in 2018’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, added.

The 57-year-old actor best known for playing Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings then announced the nominees, with Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) among those to lose out to New Zealand’s Campion.

Reflecting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine while on the red carpet, Serkis said it is “important” to celebrate the arts as they “hold humanity together”.

“It’s a difficult situation having a celebration like this when such horrendous, horrific things are happening not too far away from here,” he told the PA news agency.

“But I think it’s also important that arts are celebrated because arts do hold humanity together, and actually freedom of speech and the power of storytelling is something that I think Ukrainians would totally applaud.

“So if we hold them up tonight and reflect the enjoyment and the passion back to them, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

Host Rebel Wilson was another to raise the invasion at the ceremony, with the Australian taking a swipe at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As she introduced the performance by Coda star Emilia Jones to Joni Mitchell’s ballad Both Sides Now, Wilson explained that the actress would be accompanied by two sign language interpreters who signed the song in both British Sign Language and American Sign Language.

She added that “luckily though in all sign languages, this is the gesture for Putin” as she gave the middle finger to the Russian leader.

The actress also paid tribute to the people of Ukraine after the In Memory Of segment of the award ceremony.

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