“When J.J. described the role to me… he described someone who was, in movie terms, a mixture of Hannibal Lecter, Jack in ‘The Shining,’ and the Joker in ‘Batman,'” Cumberbatch said. “…He’s someone who has enormous physical strength. He’s someone who is incredibly dangerous, both as a physical entity and through the use of various technologies and weapons and who performs acts of what I would describe as terrorism. He’s also a psychological master. He manipulates the minds of those around him to do his bidding in a very, very subtle way.”
“His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an… average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet,” Abrams added, “and he turns against the group because he has got this backstory and this kind of amazing secret agenda. After two very violent attacks, one in London and one in the US, our characters have to go after this guy and apprehend him. And it is a far more complicated and difficult thing then they ever anticipated. ‘Into Darkness’ is very much about how intense it gets and really what they are up against.”
Fans can catch a brief tease of Cumberbatch’s character on the big screen now as part of a nine-minute IMAX preview during digital screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (find the full list of participating theaters here). The full film hits theaters May 17, 2013.