Graham Moore describes his childhood as being quite “techie.” You can’t attend a computer camp without being associated with a certain degree of nerdiness. Over time, Moore found himself so intrigued with the life of pioneering computer scientist, Alan Turing, that he wrote the screenplay “The Imitation Game.”
“Both Turing’s work and his personal life intrigued me deeply,” Moore says. “I grew up knowing about Turing and was surprised more people didn’t know his story. I could not figure out how come no one had told his story.”
That oversight has been corrected. In “The Imitation Game,” Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing, a British mathematical wiz who was in charge of a small group who cracked the Enigma, the German World War II code machine thought to be unbreakable.
The film also stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong and Allen Leech. It opened Wednesday, Dec. 24 in Fresno.
Moore blends the efforts to crack the code with Turing’s personal battles. Being gay at a time in Great Britain when that was a serious crime, forced Turing to live a secretive existence. He became a man who was both heralded for his accomplishments, which shortened World War II by two years, and persecuted for his sexuality.
Moore calls Turing’s life “amazing.”
“It’s one of those which, if you’d made it up, wouldn’t have been believable: that one person lived through so many dramatic things, that one person is a genius, a war hero, invented the computer, was prosecuted by the Government for homosexuality and committed suicide — it’s all these movies in one. It’s shocking that it’s true.”
Moore understands making up stories having penned the New York Times bestseller “The Sherlockian,” a mystery novel about the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which has been published in 16 countries and translated into 13 languages.
His “The Imitation Game” script topped the 2012 Black List of the best unproduced screenplays of the year.
Moore says he never dreamed that such a strong cast would be put together to bring his script to life. And, at the center of all that talent is Cumberbatch.
“Watching Benedict work, you see the level of detail he brings. He’s someone who doesn’t have to pretend to be a smart person,” Moore says. “We talked a lot about exactly how to do Turing’s stutter because he wanted to do it perfectly. There were no audio recordings so he had to pieces it together.”
A lot of that preparation was done during the 2 1/2 weeks of rehearsal the cast had before the cameras started rolling.
Leech found that rehearsal time allowed for some scenes to grow longer and others to get shorter. He considers it a blessing to have all of that extra time before filming started.
“It became such an amazing foundation before we went to work. By that point, I had such an understanding of the character,” Leech says.
Leech — best known for playing Tom Branson in “Downton Abbey” — describes his character, John Cairncross, as the one person who is almost a confidant for Turing from working on the machine to break the code to knowing Turing is gay.
In many ways, Leech’s character is as complicated as Turing.
“Every character in this film deserves their own movie. That’s why I wanted to do this film. I gravitate toward stories and good characters. It seems like a lot of those projects are period pieces where I wear a lot of tweed or togas. But, I always look at the story and this is a great story,” Leech says.
His other timeless roles have included Marcus Agrippa in the cable series “Rome” and Francis Dereham in “The Tudors.”
Nothing has earned him as much attention as his work on “Downton Abbey.”
“I will be forever grateful to the show because it made people aware of me,” Leech says. “I went to Los Angeles in 2004 and I couldn’t get arrested. Now, I can get in to see people. I am very, very lucky to be a part of a show that is so enjoyed.”