First picture of Benedict Cumberbatch filming Wikileaks movie 'The Fifth Estate'

As Julian Assange addresses Oxford students via a small screen, we get a sneak peak of the Sherlock star playing him on the big screen

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The Independent Culture

Production has begun on the hugely anticipated Wikileaks dramatisation The Fifth Estate.

The film about the controversial website stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange and Daniel Bruhl as Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The first picture from on set was released this morning, above.

The image has surfaced on the same day that the real-life Assange is due to address the Oxford Union via video-link from the Ecuadorian embassy as part of an awards ceremony celebrating prominent whistleblowers.

The Big C actress Laura Linney and former Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens are also among the cast.

Following Domscheit-Berg (Bruhl), an early supporter and eventual colleague of Assange, The Fifth Estate traces the heady, early days of WikiLeaks, culminating in the release of a series of controversial and history changing information leaks.

Director Bill Condon said: "It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it's revolutionized the spread of information."

"So this film won't claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked."

The screenplay is by Josh Singer (The West Wing), based on Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding.

Domscheit-Berg, formerly known under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, worked with Assange from 2007 to 2010 when he resigned telling Der Spiegel: "WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project."

Although the cast has a strong British contingent Scottish actor James McAvoy had originally been in the running to play Domscheit-Berg but his schedule made it impossible according to reports.

Bruhl is well known in his native Germany and appeared as a Nazi alongside Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds.

The Fifth Estate is a DreamWorks Studios film.