Benedict Cumberbatch Apologizes for Referring to Non-White Actors as 'Colored'

by Zach Seemayer 9:59 PM PST, January 26, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Benedict Cumberbatch apologized on Monday for his use of the term "colored" when referring to non-white actors during an interview last week.

"I offer my sincere apologies," Cumberbatch said in a statement issued to People. "I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done."

Cumberbatch might be one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood today, but that doesn't mean he's immune to occasionally sticking his foot in his mouth.

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The Imitation Game star found himself in hot water on Wednesday after sitting down for an interview with PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley, where the actor talked about the perceived lack of diversity in the entertainment industry.

According to Cumberbatch, it's even more difficult for non-white actors in the United Kingdom to get work than it is for those in America.

"I think, as far as colored actors go, it's really difficult in the UK," Cumberbatch said. "I think a lot of my friends had more opportunities here than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change."

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While Cumberbatch's statements were made in support of diversity, many felt that his terminology was still offensive.

British anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card spoke with The Independent, saying, "Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society… "In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term 'coloured' is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage."

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In Cumberbatch's apology, the 38-year-old actor said he hoped that his mistake can lead to a conversation about sensitivity and correct terminology.

"I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive," Cumberbatch said. "I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply."

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Cumberbatch is nominated for an Oscar for his role as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. The Academy Awards itself was the target of criticism when the major acting and directing categories failed to include nominees who aren't white.

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