These have a great couple of weeks for friends Matthew Goode and Allen Leech, who play Finn on The Good Wife and Tom Branson on Downton Abbey. Not only did their new movie, The Imitation Game, win the Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award—an award that’s been a harbinger for Oscar winners like The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire—but both of their hit television shows debut their new seasons tonight. (Downton doesn’t air on PBS in the U.S. for four months, but you know you’re going to find a way to start watching it before then.)
The two were cast as part of the “Hut 8” team of cryptographers and linguists working out of London’s Bletchley Park under the direction of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), who eventually built a machine to break the “unbreakable” code the Nazis used for communication in WWII. We caught a couple cups of coffee with the pair in Toronto as they were still loopy from The Imitation Game premiere the night before.
You guys seem like bros.
Allen Leech: Bros or pros?
Allen: Yeah, we are.
Matthew Goode: Definitely. But we’re not pros. Anyway. Good morning to you. Cheers. I have felt and sounded better.
Allen: You sound more like Danny Huston this morning.
Are you guys sure you’re not still drunk from last night?
Allen: Oh no, we didn’t say that…
Matthew: We’re just bringing the energy.
Allen: People say this about us all the time when we talk. “Morten[ [Tyldum, director of The Imitation Game] used to ask that question: “Are you guys drunk?” Joking! This is a terrible interview, you’re getting all the wrong quotes from me.
Were you guys friends before this movie?
Allen: We met on this, actually.
And then it was love at first sight?
Matthew: We had our own love story.
Allen: We’ve been lucky enough to hang out a bit since.
Can we just talk for a minute about Benedict and that woman’s question—
Allen: Delicious yumminess? I knew you were gonna say that.
Matthew: Oh my god.
Allen: Delicious yumminess. Can I feed, can I feast on your yumminess?
Matthew: Can I feast on your yumminess?
Allen: No! She said, can I taste your yumminess? That was literally all she asked to do, do the action of it.
Matthew: Do you think there’s a vocabulary problem there? Or do you think she was asking to nosh him off.
Allen: I think it was the latter.
Matthew: Do you think it was the latter?
Allen: I do, I think she was going for a full taste.
Matthew: I mean, ‘cause it can only be construed in one way.
Allen: Either way, it was gonna be a gastronomical feast.
[Waiter asks us what we want for breakfast]
What was the atmosphere on set like? You knew Benedict beforehand?
Matthew: I’ve known Ben for, like, 15 years.
Allen: Speaking of which, just for the crack, I’m gonna have an eggs Benedict.
Matthew: Change that to eggs Benedict, would you! Eggs Cumberbatch, please!
Allen: There is a very funny picture where someone superimposed Ugg boots on a picture of Benedict, and it says Uggs Benedict. [laughs]
Matthew: The atmosphere on set was—well, we had the luxury of having two and a half weeks of rehearsal, to get kind of what the relationships would have been like, hanging around each other for 2 years in real life. So that was a joy. And the research was quite tough because a lot of the information was—
Allen: Well, it was so limited. We were really limited to what we could actually find out about these characters. All of Bletchley Park, as you see it in the movie, is shrouded in secrecy.
Waiter: [continues to try to take our order. It’s a bit of a struggle] Any bacon or sausage?
No, at least not for me.
Matthew: No. She’s not feasting on that much yumminess. She wants the omelet. One eggs Benedict, one omelet, one American breakfast, eggs over medium.
Matthew: We have far less that we’re allowed to put on our room bills than you’d think.
Allen: Uh oh. Whip out the old credit card there. There goes Christmas.
Matthew: You should be working!
Allen: [laughs] I’m unemployed! Thanks for bringing that up.
So you’ve known Benedict for 15 years. Did women come to set to scream at him?
Matthew: Well, yesterday was the first time I realized that he’s like a Beatle. I mean…
Allen: That was insane.
Matthew: We got in the car behind him going in. The screaming, I was like, oh, my god! This is electric! Because I don’t get out much—I’ve got kids now, so I don’t really get out that much.
Allen: You make it sound like, if you did, you wouldn’t be able to walk down the street. [laughs] If you did, you’d be on the subway, Oh, no! Get away!
Matthew: What I mean is I haven’t seen him in a bit either, so this meteoric rise—
Allen: It’s incredible. I got there ahead of him, and I was like the warm-up act. When I got there, and people were like, [dull voice] “Allen. Woo.” FourDownton fans. And I was like, “Hey!” And then I went over, and they hadSherlock pictures. They did this: they had a picture of Ben, and they’d go, [pretends to turn over a picture] “Sign the back please.” [laughs] I loved it, it was hilarious.
Matthew: Yeah. Because everything should be taken with a little pinch of salt.
Allen: Of course. It’s brilliant.
Matthew: Otherwise we’d swallow ourselves up.
Allen: Listen, I’m just delighted to be in the movie.
Matthew: Yeah! I am!
Allen: I would have walked to the premiere. I’m delighted they gave me a car.
Matthew: We should let you ask us a question.
Allen: You’re never gonna use any of this, are you?