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Meet the New 'Trek' Villain: Benedict Cumberbatch

By DAVID WEINER

December 12, 2012

Internet speculation has gone into overdrive about just which Star Trek villain Benedict Cumberbatch is actually playing in J.J. Abrams' upcoming sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. While Paramount officially revealed that the Sherlock Holmes star's character is named John Harrison, the specter of Khan still looms over that arguable smokescreen -- and the Brit actor dared ET to probe further.

"Maybe you can break me," said Benedict with a sly smile at the film's preview junket. "I enjoy [the speculation], because I appreciate the reasons for it. I really, really do."

Video: First Look! 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Teaser

In theaters and IMAX 3D on May 17, 2013, Star Trek Into Darkness finds the Enterprise crew called back to Earth to battle an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction, and our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death.

Benedict described Harrison as a "terrorist," explaining, "Someone who's a fearsome warrior and he's an expert in hand-to-hand combat and weaponry, as well as being a psychological terrorist -- he's a great manipulator of minds to perform his intentions and do his bidding. But he has a cause; however violent and destructive the effects of his actions are, the reasons and intentions behind them are pretty noble, so hopefully at some stage in the story you'll have a sympathy for him, which should be unexpected but should be genuine. He's fighting for something he believes in, as strong as those who are defending Starfleet and the Enterprise itself."

"He's remarkably rational and wildly, insidiously brilliant," says J.J. Abrams of the Harrison character. "Part of the fun of this bad guy is he's not just a raving lunatic. He's somebody you can talk to and get seduced by."

Pics: 'Star Trek' Movies: The Best and Worst Moments

Benedict said working on the sequel with the returning talent involved is "very, very, very exciting -- I was a huge fan of the first film. I thought it just blew away any expectations I had of a Star Trek film. … It did ignite the Trekkie in me."

Watch ET for more coverage of Star Trek Into Darkness.

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