Actor Benedict Cumberbatch severs business ties with Mahathir's son Mokhzani

Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch severed business ties with the second son of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad because of Dr Mahathir's anti-Semitic remarks.
Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch severed business ties with the second son of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad because of Dr Mahathir's anti-Semitic remarks.PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The second son of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed that Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch has severed business ties with him because of his father's anti-Semitic remarks.

Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir said that it was Cumberbatch's prerogative to do so.

"Ben has decided that being associated with me is the same as being associated with my father indirectly, so that's his prerogative.

"If he feels very strongly about whatever my father says and has concerns there could be repercussions because of that, that's his prerogative," Mr Mokhzani told The Star Online on Wednesday (March 20).

Mr Mokhzani was said to have invested £1 million (S$1.8 million) in SunnyMarch productions, a company involved in movies and TV programmes, in partnership with Cumberbatch and two others.

Mr Mokhzani said he met Cumberbatch when he visited Malaysia in 2014, as part of the Laureas Awards, before the English actor was his guest at the Formula One race here.

"After that, we kept in touch and he invited me to invest in his movie start-up company," he said.

Cumberbatch is best known for starring as Sherlock Holmes in a TV mini-series and for portraying the character of Dr Stephen Strange in the movies Dr Strange (2016), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

Mr Mokhzani said a Daily Mail columnist had called Cumberbatch a few days ago to get his views on Tun Dr Mahathir's comments in an interview on BBC Hardtalk in October last year.

In the interview, Dr Mahathir had described Jews as "hook-nosed" and blamed them for the troubles in the Middle East, comments which were seen as anti-Semitic.

Dr Mahathir had also called Israelis "special" and challenged historical accounts that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, arguing that the figure was four million.

Mr Mokhzani said Cumberbatch did not want to be associated with anyone who had been labelled anti-Semitic as he was worried that there could be repercussions on SunnyMarch productions.

Mr Mokhzani also said that Cumberbatch had asked him to make a statement, which he declined.

"I said the best thing to do is to resign," he said, adding that they were working towards severing their business ties.

He said that he will work towards trying to recoup his investment in the company.

In the column by Sebastian Shakespeare, the Daily Mail's diary editor, Cumberbatch was quoted as saying: "I was shocked and disappointed to learn today of statements made by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, articulating views that I find abhorrent and unacceptable.

"Our company has never had dealings with Dr Mohamad (sic) - rather, our relationship has always been with his son Mokhzani Mahathir.

"As a company, we have already begun the process of fully severing our relationship with Mr Mahathir so that he will no longer be involved with SunnyMarch," Cumberbatch said.