Actor insists he really is playing a mysterious character called John Harrison

Benedict Cumberbatch has denied that he is playing classic Star Trek villain Khan in the new movie.

The Sherlock actor is definitely playing a baddie in JJ AbramsStar Trek Into Darkness, due next year (2013), but little else is known about his character. Some fan forums are speculating that Cumberbatch could be reviving the character of Khan Noonien Singh, a superhuman tyrant who first appeared in the TV series in 1967 and later fuelled the 1982 movie Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.

Earlier this week (December 11), a new image from Star Trek Into Darkness surfaced, showing Cumberbatch alongside Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock. The accompanying caption from Paramount Pictures lists the Cumberbatch figure as John Harrison – the first time his character has been given a name. However, rumours are circulating that the name could be a decoy.

In a new interview with Access Hollywood, Cumberbatch batted away these suggestions. When asked whether he is actually playing Khan, he replied: “A few have asked that which is strange [but] I play a character called John and not that other name. It’s interesting. Speculation is speculation and that’s all fun.”

Discussing his role in the film, Cumberbatch continued: “I play John Harrison who’s a terrorist and an extraordinary character in his own right. He’s somebody who is not your two-dimensional cookie cutter villain. He’s got an extraordinary purpose, and I hope that at one point or other in the film you might even sympathise with the reasons he’s doing what he’s doing — not necessarily the means and the destruction he causes. But it was a great ride, not just because he’s the bad guy and the antagonist but also because he has a purpose and it’s hard not to see his point of view at certain points.”

For a glimpse of Cumberbatch’s villain, scroll down and click ‘play’ to watch the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer. The film – JJ Abrams’ sequel to 2009’s Star Trek – is scheduled for release next May (2013).