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 displeased. The assistant director quickly yelled, “That’s lunch everyone!” and all the stuntmen and production crew quietly made their way towards catering as 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 being shot 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 described as a series of fortunate events. The thrill of working on such a production is something I will always cherish.

The director and I have known one another since childhood. We grew up within the same community and neighborhood, 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 fitness and philosophy 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 our relationship transformed both my career and outlook on life in ways I would have never known otherwise. The director began developing a script for a film which began production months later. He kept me in the loop throughout every step of 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 excited and willing.

However, just before production, the excitement of participating in the film 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. This crushed me because I wasn’t in a financial position to pay my own way.

I was on a photography assignment in Martha’s Vineyard when the discouraging news was disclosed. I couldn’t help but express how upset and sad I was with my friend, Kimberly, throughout the assignment. 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 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 back!

I recognized something powerful then because I find it profound that life isn’t about the amount of people you know but rather knowing the right people…the ones who help you evolve. It propelled me to consider how many relationships I had and how many of them were really worth sustaining. I realize it sounds harsh, but considering 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 of them, they’re about how we can edify them. It’s predicated on the joy and fulfillment of 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, may be a powerful formula to progress in life. Allowing ourselves to focus on the quality of relationships we choose to maintain will likely manifest a new sense of vigor within. 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 once again.

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 him. 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]