– EN Showbiz – Benedict Cumberbatch was determined to make his portrayal of Quaalude abuse in Patrick Melrose distinct from Leonardo DiCaprio’s famous scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street.
The Doctor Strange star won the Best Actor prize at the 2019 British Academy Television Awards (BAFTAs) on Sunday (12May19) for his role as the title character in the drug-fuelled TV drama.
In the show, his character becomes incapacitated after taking Quaalude sedatives, a drug whose effects Leonardo memorably captured in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar nominated film.
Benedict told WENN at the post-awards press conference that he didn’t compare notes with the Academy Award-winning star, and instead based his portrayal on advice from real-life drug users like Edward St Aubyn, who wrote the semi-autobiographical novels on which Patrick Melrose is based.
“We (he and Leonardo) haven’t had a Quaalude down, no,” he said, before adding: “I asked people who had a lot of familiarity around every single drug that was involved in the programme making as to how to accurately portray the physicality or psychosis that is involved in taking and being affected by drugs.”
The clean-living star said the closest he has got to having real-life experience of substance abuse is getting “a little bit drunk”, and so he had to be coached and corrected by recovering addicts when he got his portrayal of drug use wrong.
“I sought out expert help from people who, very willingly, in order to educate people within institutions like the media, the entertainment industry and all walks of life, about the perils of drug abuse and addiction and what addiction really is,” he shared.
Revealing what he has learned from those in recovery he revealed: “Anyone can be an addict, it’s more the person than the material.”
As well as Benedict’s Best Actor gong, Patrick Melrose also won the BAFTA for Best Mini-Series.