Things Not Said

a heartfelt collection of insights.

The Time My Friend Punched Benedict Cumberbatch In The Face

Photographed by Jubei Raziel

Photographed by Jubei Raziel

The moments that followed were filled with silent intensity. Everyone held their breath as Benedict got up from the floor, clearly displeased. The assistant director quickly yelled, “That’s lunch everyone!” and all the stuntmen and production crew quietly made their way towards catering while the set nurse rushed in to tend to Benedict’s bleeding nose.

I was in London working on a riveting action film starring Nick Moran, Colin Salmon and Benedict Cumberbatch. The scene I just described involved a fight sequence between Benedict and a bunch of henchmen…which included the director and myself (He slipped the two of us in for fun). The film is called Little Favour, and how I ended up working on this film can be characterized as a series of fortunate events. The thrill of having worked on such a film is something I will always cherish.

The director and I have known one another since childhood. We grew up within the same community, but as our lives and careers unfolded, we lost touch. It wasn’t until—through a tragic death in the family—did we re-connect. And though it was a difficult time, I found it reinvigorating that after so many years, he and I would have uncanny similarities from our fitness styles and philosophy on life, to writing and photography.

Unlike my familiar “So close yet so far” scenario with Lin-Manuel Miranda, I stayed engaged with the director since the day of the funeral. And the relationship brillaintly transformed both my career and outlook on life in ways I would have never anticipated. The director began developing a script (the one that would eventually became Little Favour) and preproduction kicked in months later. He kept me in the loop throughout the process. One day he called me and introduced the idea of me being a part of his film. At the time I didn’t know in what capacity, but it didn’t matter, I was willing and excited.

However, just before production, the excitement of my participation was nearly derailed when I was informed there wasn’t enough in the film’s budget to fly me to London where the project was being filmed. Furthermore, I wasn’t in a financial position to pay my own way.

At the time, I was on a photography assignment in Martha’s Vineyard when the discouraging news was shared. I couldn’t help but express how upset and sad I was with my friend, Kimberly, for the next couple days. But something remarkable happened. She decided to help me get to London. Words fail to capture how elated I became. I quickly told the director I was coming, and we were able to work out the logistics of my arrival just in time; the way for me to be a part of his film was on!

I recognized something profound then: Life isn’t about how many people you know, but rather, knowing the right ones…those who help you evolve. It prompted me to consider how many relationships I had and how many of them were really worth sustaining. It sounds harsh, but realizing how distracting and draining our daily lives often leave us, perhaps it’s time for us to evaluate which people stimulate us and cultivate our growth against those who sap our energy and time without any reciprocity. Let me be clear:

Our relationships aren’t about how we can capitalize off them, they’re about how we can edify them. It’s predicated on the joy and fulfillment in helping those we love reach their dreams.

My experiences and involvement in Little Favour refined me professionally. But more so, helped me understand that positioning ourselves with those who nurture our souls, who challenge us to become more, is a powerful formula to progress in life. We ought to reciprocate this. Allowing ourselves to focus on the quality of relationships we choose to maintain will likely manifest a new sense of vigor bilaterally. For myself, having a relationship with the director, likewise with Kimberly, empowered me to explore more and reach new plateaus; I found my spirit rekindled and excited about the possibilities that surrounded me in a refreshing way.

Approaching challenges and meeting them as a team, and not as an individual, radically changes outcomes.

The director taught me that his successes are fueled by empowering others and the quality of relationships he keeps around. I mean, how else could someone punch Benedict Cumberbatch in the face and still be best friends afterwards?

[Little Favour is available to purchase online]